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Category: Amy Kaufman

Sundance kicks off. Will 74-year-old Robert Redford follow Regis and Larry King?

Getprev Sundance organizers had plenty to gloat about on Thursday, when festival founder Robert Redford appeared at a news conference in Park City, Utah, to kick off the annual independent film gathering.

Festival director John Cooper seemed especially proud of the success of two films that came out of Sundance last year, "Winter's Bone" and "The Kids Are All Right," which was just named the best comedy or musical of the year at the Golden Globes.

But he also acknowledged some anxiety related to the 10-day event this year: the loss of a 600-seat venue, the continued onslaught of swag and protests over films with gay themes.

“I think we’re going to feel that with the seats we lost here in Park City … it may be a little crowded on the streets,” he said, referring to the loss of the Racquet Club screening venue. “I fear that this kind of constant ongoing situation of ambush marketers are back — I like to call them riffraff. ...  I honestly wish they could find some way to contribute to independent film or art in general.”

He also brushed off concerns that those who are planning to protest Kevin Smith's "Red State," which he described as being about "young homosexual men who get murdered in a church setting," will cause any major disruption.

Redford, too, tried to keep the tone light. When asked by an audience member who said she had interviewed a number of actors who said they would not return to Sundance because they felt it had become too commercial, the filmmaker bristled.

“I wouldn’t agree that it’s become more commercial. Maybe they were looking at it from a different point of view — the outliers that have gathered around the festival,” he said.

Another in the crowd asked Redford, who is 74, if he had plans to retire any time soon, mentioning  recent decisions by septuagenarians Regis Philbin and Larry King to hang up their hats.

He smiled, nodding his head: "I am gonna die!"

— Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Robert Redford speaks on the opening day of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Credit: George Fray/EPA.


Matt Damon: I knew the HFPA 'didn't like' Golden Globe-snubbed 'True Grit'

Getprev When "True Grit" was shut out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on Tuesday, many in town were left scratching their heads. Even in advance of its Dec. 22 release, the Coen-brothers-directed western has been buzzed about by award pundits, with many predicting the film will earn Oscar nominations for best picture, best actor (Jeff Bridges) and best supporting actress (14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld).

But Matt Damon, who stars in the film as the hijinks-prone lawman La Boeuf, says he knew long before this week that "True Grit" wasn't going to get any love at the Golden Globes.

"I actually heard beforehand that [the HFPA] didn't like it. They'll tell you beforehand, like, 'I don't get it!'" Damon said, putting on a vaguely European accent to imitate a member of the HFPA, many of whose members hail from abroad.

As my colleague Steven Zeitchik noted earlier this week, the HFPA has never truly embraced westerns. They also just didn't find the film funny, according to one person who was in the room at a recent group screening.

But when asked what specific issues the HFPA had with "True Grit," Damon said he wasn't entirely sure.

"I actually didnt do the junket and the press conference with [the HFPA], because I was shooting, but even then, my publicist called and said, 'Yeah, the word from the junket was they didn't like it," he recalled. "And there's nothing you can really do in that situation."

Still, Damon is hopeful that Oscar voters will recognize "True Grit" when nominations are announced in January. He also has his own thoughts on how the awards process should be recalibrated.

"Those things really do matter for the bottom line of the movie," he said. "But the way I feel about awards is that the real barometer by which you measure a movie is that you should look at it 10 years later. That way, you could get the machinery out of the way, and all of the stuff bending the opinion based on the day. If a movie survives for 10 years, it all becomes a lot clearer."

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Matt Damon in "True Grit." Credit: Wilson Webb / Paramount Pictures

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How 'The Tourist' got three Golden Globes nominations and 'True Grit' got nada


SAG nominations: Hailee Steinfeld on 'True Grit'

True grit 
For 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, being cast in her first film was exciting. To know she would be working with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon in "True Grit" was beyond exciting. To learn that she'd received a SAG nomination, well, you get the idea. Here, Hailee shares her thoughts:

How long have you been awake?

"Probably like 30 minutes. Yes, actually when I woke up, my mom heard me upstairs, and she was like, People are calling, they want to congratulate you! So Ive been talking to all my friends and family. Its great."

You were saying it feels like yesterday you were cast in the film.

"Its funny, because it wasnt too long ago. Obviously, it was a few months ago, but it does feel longer than that. I came in at the very end of the whole audition process and I went in, I was put on tape the first week of January, and read with the casting director, and they told us it would be a month. And five weeks later, I went in to read for the Coen brothers."

What have the last few months been like promoting the film?

"Its definitely fun, mostly because of the people Im doing it with. Jeff is so much fun to be around and the Coen brothers are so easygoing. Theres never a minute I spend with them that I dont want to be there."

Did you ever imagine your first role would be nominated for awards?

"Honestly, no. I immediately think back to the day I was sitting in my room waiting for the call for True Grit, and I thought, whoever gets this job its like winning the lottery, because its such an incredible cast and film."

Did it bother you that the Golden Globes overlooked "True Grit"?

"Honestly, I didnt even know it was going on. I was in New York with all my family and my best friend. I had a countdown since 200 days ago for the premiere, so when the premiere came around, I was just looking forward to that."

How was the premiere?

"It was so much fun, oh, my goodness. Everyone was telling me, Its gonna be a lot of fun, and its going to be crowded,  but it was 10 times more fun than I thought it was going to be."

Had you been to a premiere before?

"One or two. Id done a couple red carpets so I would get used to it so I would know what the drill is. I was doing an interview, and someone asked me, How does it feel? and it hit me that I was on the red carpet."

Lots of people think you're going to get an Oscar nomination. Is that exciting to think about?

"Sure. Again, I dont think about it too much. I have so many things going on. Its so crazy, because Im so stuck in the moment. My birthday was last week. Christmas is in nine days. Thats kind of the last thing Im thinking about."

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit." Credit: Paramount Pictures


SAG nominations: Patrick Stewart on 'Macbeth'

Patrick stewart 
Patrick Stewart isn't a well man. But he's a happy man. On the down side, he woke up Thursday morning with a "screaming cold"; on the upside, he awoke to the news that he'd received a SAG nomination for his lead role in "Macbeth" for "Great Performances." Through the sniffles and the planned travel later in the day to London, Stewart took some time out to talk about the awards and his performance.

How was it this morning?

"I wasnt aware they were announced this morning. Thats always the best way of hearing, rather than sitting by the phone or the television and not hearing anything."

Have you done that before?

Oh, my, yes. Havent we all?

What will you do to celebrate?

I have my girlfriend with me, and weve both got a busy day, but we are going to meet up for lunch and I think we shall probably find an excuse to raise a glass of something sparkling.

Before this production of "Macbeth" made it to TV, you'd performed it in London and on Broadway?

"Yes. We filmed it for 18 days. That is camera time. Given that this film is two hours, 25 minutes long, its very fast work. But we had played this on the stage for exactly a year. Its a very challenging play, and we had all felt from quite early on that this was a production that could be transposed onto a film quite excitingly. Its not a film of a stage production, which we have seen, and some of them have been fine. This is a movie filmed on location, and with all of those challenges. None of it was in the studio, but we could work quickly because all the actors after 18 months were all familiar with their characters."

Did your approach to the character change from stage to film?

It changed, yes. I had 18 months to think about it and I found that I better knew this character and all the different directions he was going in. I think that all of us -- with the benefit of some different and very dramatic locations -- I think we were all able to push the boundaries of the production and the characterizations somewhat further. There are many things in the film version that never happened on stage.

Do you look forward to the SAG Awards?

"I do, yeah. I do look forward to it. Luckily, I think I think Im going to be able to attend because I think I shall be free at the end of January. The SAG awards are very special, and you will have heard this countless times by other nominees and thats because its given by our peers and that means everything to all actors. So going to the awards is like a big reunion party."

Are you looking forward to seeing anyone in particular?

"Particularly Mr. [Al] Pacino because I saw his performance on Broadway a few days ago in The Merchant of Venice, and he is an actor who has put Shakespeare on film before, so maybe we can exchange notes."

So it's a chance for you to network.

"Actors dont do that as much as other creative professions do -- writers, composers, musicians. I think we tend to be a little bit modest about discussing and analyzing the work we do, but there are people who I know who do enjoy that. And I have been an admirer of Al Pacino for decades and hope to have the opportunity to talk to him about putting Shakespeare on film."

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Patrick Stewart. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times


SAG nominations: Edgar Ramirez on 'Carlos'

Edgar ramirez Edgar Ramirez is amazed to be on such a streak with his film "Carlos," which played as a miniseries on television and, in an edited format, as a theatrical release. First came a Golden Globe nomination and, on Thursday, a SAG nomination.

"I was very surprised and just one day after finding out the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations; its surreal," Ramirez said Thursday morning. "Its been a great week. And actually, yeah, the most beautiful thing is that its recognition that comes from your peers. That is beautiful. They appreciate it and internally understand what it means to be an actor and invest yourself in portraying a character."

And although creating the film itself is reward enough, it doesn't hurt to be recognized for the achievement. "Absolutely. This is the glaze over the cake? How do you say? This is the icing on the cake," said the Venezuelan actor. "Because you dont do movies or make movies expecting for these kind of things to happen. It is not real, it is not healthy, it is not the reason why you want to make movies and why you choose projects. You do it because they speak to you, because they confront you and inspire you."

As a newcomer to the awards scene, Ramirez thinks he'll be as much a fan as he is an actor. "Im a total newbie. I dont really know what to expect. Im gonna try to experience it moment by moment,  but there are gonna be -- just in my category -- there are some of the actors that I respect the most and Im gonna talk to them. Dennis Quaid, we worked together, and Im very happy to be there with him."

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Edgar Ramirez. Credit: Associated Press


SAG nominations: Ty Burrell on 'Modern Family'

Ty Burrell 
Ty Burrell was happy to hear of his SAG nomination for male actor in a comedy series, even if he wasn't really expecting it. "My phone started ringing early, and I didnt know why, because Im an idiot. I finally just woke up and answered it and was like, Oh right, this is the moment theyre announced. "

But the news got even better as he realized that his comedy series, "Modern Family" also got the Screen Actors Guild comedy ensemble nod. "I was even more excited about the ensemble nomination because its the coolest one of the year. Its just really fun. It seems like sort of a purist, rewarding thing. As people go through this, we go through this process together, and everybody is so thrilled when were nominated for best show, so to be nominated for best cast, it brings the kids more into the fold. They have whole storylines written for them more and more. The longer the show is on, the more theyre really getting."

But with such a group of stellar actors, does it create any tension on set when some receive nominations and others don't?

"It hasnt at all. Its been a situation where everybody is -- we on set really understand how equally this show is shared among us, and I think its a really unusual show that way, in that every week the storylines are completely equal. Theres sort of an arbitrary quality to people being singled out. I feel like, in the end, everybody will be. Because if you look at the show, its just spread out so consistently and so evenly, and I think thats why I feel like the ensemble award is so special for our show."

Speaking of special, are the awards shows themselves stressful or fun?

"I wasnt sure if I was going to enjoy them. But my wife and I its fun. For whatever reason, it hasnt been that stressful. I think its more stressful for my wife. I think that women have a more complicated time. I basically just comb my hair and go. Weve had a really good time its one of the few actual date nights we get, now that I have a 10-month-old daughter."

Is that her in the background?

"It is. She promptly pooped about 30 seconds after I heard about the award, and I went and changed her diaper. It was a true moment of celebration."

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ty Burrell. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times


SAG nominations: Hilary Swank on 'Conviction'

Hilary Swank 
An unexpected Screen Actors Guild nomination for her lead role as Betty Anne Waters in "Conviction" has Hilary Swank feeling as excited as she did years ago as a young actress.

"It never ceases to be surprising. Look, I feel as I did from Boys Dont Cry, its just such an honor. And I think that by your peers, that this is SAG sorry, Im still waking up the body of actors, and that theyre my peers actors know what goes into creating a character and all thats behind it. Everyone else can have an idea, but they really dont know. And that makes it so huge, that they will watch a performance and say, Wow, I know what went into that.

"It feels just the same. It feels like its the first time."

And though peer recognition is always nice, Swank says in the end it's the work that counts. "I have to say, the real payoff in a movie like this is that Betty Anne Waters looks at you and says, You did justice to my story.' When you go to the premiere and she looks over at you and has a sparkle in her eye and wells up and says, Thank you, thats the real honor. Thats the experience and the reason why Im an actor. Its to tell the stories. And look, this is a great honor and it feels so good because its your peers and they know what goes into it, but its the experience of the whole. I immediately said, what about Sam [Rockwell] and Juliette [Lewis]? Its bittersweet when its such a collaboration and youre only as good as your weakest link. And I think everyone is stellar in this."

So by now, the multiple award-winner must have an award show routine? "I do have that down. When Im just getting ready, I usually take about an hour, but for something like this, you make a day out of it. I like to go for a hike and just start  the morning by clearing my mind and being really grateful. Then I have a nice breakfast, usually with my team of people who are so supportive of me no matter what. But to hang out at home, no matter what, and take a bath and get a nice long manicure and pedicure. I make it kind of a process. Its a great time to celebrate and I hope Betty Anne can be there, because all of a sudden, its over."

"Conviction" hasn't been breaking box office records, though. Might an award nomination get more people to see it? "I think movies can always hit a wider audience. It can always be bigger, no matter what. The award is a very big and important factor. When people say, What would a nomination mean to you? Obviously, a SAG nomination, its a little different that my peers see my work in a way that they appreciate. But the nomination just gets the movie out there."

So, how will she celebrate Thursday? "I wasnt really planning on doing anything. What do you think I should do?"

It seems like you like hiking.

"Maybe I will go for a hike. I like being out in the rain because I grew up in Washington state."

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Hilary Swank; credit: Reuters


SAG nominations: Chris Colfer on 'Glee'

Chris colfer Sometimes, repeating yourself is a good thing, even if it means being awakened at an unforgivable hour. For "Glee's" Chris Colfer, coming off a Golden Globe nomination on Tuesday to an early-morning phone call on Thursday wasn't such a bad thing when he learned of his Screen Actors Guild nomination for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series.

"Its been a pretty good week. It was hard sleeping last night and the night before, because I was on such an adrenaline high. But waking up early for this is never a bad thing. I figured the show might get nominated, but this was a complete shock. At 5 oclock, my publicist called, and I thought maybe it was a phone call waking me up from the Golden Globes dream. Everyone was just shocked to hear it."

But enough reveling, he has to go to work today. "Were filming a sleepover scene. Everyone is really supportive," Colfer said. "It doesnt matter if we were performing at a country fair wed be there for one another. The music is what brings everyone together. Im excited. Im so shocked that I was nominated for an Emmy this year. I have no words. I guess its changed everything. Its definitely changed my life from day to night. Ive just gone from being a no one from ... Clovis, Calif., and now Im nominated for all these things."

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Chris Colfer. Credit: Associated Press


Golden Globe nominations: Mila Kunis on 'Black Swan'

Mila Kunis 
A still drowsy Mila Kunis, celebrated her Golden Globes 2011 nomination for supporting actress in "Black Swan" and those of director Darren Aronofsky and costar Natalie Portman with phone calls to her family and fellow nominees. 

"I was half asleep. I was just excited the film was being recognized and Darren. I think I havent had time to fully process it," she said, noting that she was drawing the most pleasure from her family's excitement and how proud they are.

Until now, Kunis has been known primarily for her roles in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and TV's "That '70s Show," much lighter fare than the dark thriller "Black Swan." Perhaps audiences will see her now as a more dramatic actress.

"Oh, I dont know. I have no idea what side people are seeing me on," Kunis said as she pondered the thought. "And I probably wont know. As long as they dont hate me and they like the work. It doesnt matter if they see me as comedy or drama, as long as they like the movie."

Amy Kaufman

Photo: Mila Kunis. Photo credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

 


Golden Globes nominations: Emma Stone

Emma Stone 

Emma Stone received her first Golden Globe nomination Tuesday morning, for her lead performance in the comedy "Easy A," a kind of modern-day "Scarlet Letter" for the teen set. The actress, now filming "Spider-Man" with Andrew Garfield, couldn't go too crazy upon learning of her nomination; she has to work today.

"I guess Im gonna go to work today and then I will have a glass of champagne tonight. I know, wild," she said. But she truly is excited, she added. "Its kind of a shocking thing when you think that -- for comedy, especially -- some of these other movies have buzz around them and youre not expecting a phone call. It was pretty thrilling. I mean, yeah, its 'Easy A,' its not like its been an awards process and Ive been to all these shows.

"The best part was when my mom called because she moved out here with me when I wanted to become an actress. The Golden Globes are the same week seven years ago that I moved here, so thats kind of a celebratory anniversary."

Young actresses, it should be noted, made a strong showing in this year's nominations -- Mila Kunis, Jennifer Lawrence....

"Its really kind of crazy. I think that theyre both amazing," Stone said. "This one time, I get to be in that world. Its really exciting.

"Hands down, 2010 has been the best year of my life so far. And this is like the giant, giant cherry on top of it. Since I have a big disaster mentality, it makes me a little nervous. But to have this top off the year is the most amazing gift."

So that's it, back to work? "It should be a good day on set, since [Garfield] was also nominated."

-- Amy Kaufman

 Photo: Emma Stone. Credit: Genaro Molino / Los Angeles Times



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