Category: Amy Kaufman

Scarlett Johansson: I was 'burdened' as my 'Avengers' character

Scarlett Johansson at "The Avengers" premiere

Scarlett Johansson has made it clear that the physical preparation for "The Avengers" was no easy feat. In the superhero film, she dons a skin-tight body suit as undercover agent Black Widow -- something she put on after months of grueling workouts and stunt training. 

But getting into the mind-set of the dark character was no easy job either, Johansson said on the red carpet at the film's Hollywood premiere Wednesday night.

"The character is awesome because she's a mercenary -- there's no funny business," the 27-year-old explained. "So just being a mercenary -- how do you get to that place? You have to be so burdened."

Johansson is only one of a handful of A-list stars featured in "The Avengers," which brings together Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner. Despite the big-name cast, director Joss Whedon said, there were no divas on set.

"These guys, they like each other, and they protect each other on a story level," the filmmaker said. "When they all get together, my biggest problem is getting them to stop giggling. I had to yell. I was like a schoolmarm."

"The Avengers" hits U.S. theaters May 4.


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-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Scarlett Johansson at "The Avengers" premiere. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

'Hunger Games' actors talk race, weight at Kids' Choice Awards

Amandla Stenberg signs "The Hunger Games" autographs

"The Hunger Games" has dominated the box office for two consecutive weekends now -- but with that success has come some vitriol from critics of Suzanne Collins' beloved young adult series.

Last week, stars Lenny Kravitz and Amandla Stenberg found themselves the subjects of some vicious attacks from fans questioning why the filmmakers cast black actors in those roles. The character Stenberg plays, the wide-eyed Rue, has "dark brown skin and eyes" in Collins' book.

Despite the critiques, the 13-year-old actress was all smiles at the Kids' Choice Awards on Saturday, and said she's appreciated all the support she's received from fans during the last week. She even got a message from an unexpected supporter: M.C. Hammer.

"He said, 'Respect for the people!'" Amandla said with a smile.

Oh, but that's not all some "Hunger Games" viewers are in a tizzy about. A slew of reviewers have criticized Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast for not looking "hungry" enough in the film.

"A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission," said Manohla Dargis of the New York Times.

Dayo Okeniyi, who plays the character Thresh, called that sentiment "beyond ridiculous."

"Suzanne Collins said in an interview, if Josh [Hutcherson] was blue and came from Mars, she would still cast him in this movie because his soul is the soul of Peeta," the actor said on the orange carpet. "I wish all movies were cast like that."


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-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Amandla Stenberg signs autographs at the Grove. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

'American Reunion' premiere: The gang's all here, one more time

American Reunion premiered in Hollywood on Monday

The cast of "American Pie" knows what a lot of people think when they hear that the gang from the 1999 teen classic is reuniting for yet another spin-off of the franchise: "Really? 'American Pie' again?"

At least that was actor Eddie Kaye Thomas' reaction to the news that Universal wanted to bring back the gang for "American Reunion," which hits theaters Friday and premiered Monday night at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

"That's probably not a good idea. Let's leave well enough alone," the actor recalled of his initial response.

After all, there have already been a handful of "American Pie" installments in recent years -- the second of which was the most successful. Two sequels hit theaters with the same cast, but then there were the four direct-to-DVD titles that followed featuring lesser-known actors.

Alyson Hannigan, the "How I Met Your Mother" star who in the movie plays the wife of Jason Biggs' character, said she liked the idea of a reunion but "worried that it wasn't going to be as good" as the first film.

"My favorite was always the original one, so I was just concerned," said the actress, who showed off her growing baby bump on the red carpet.

She and the rest of the cast said they were swayed into jumping back on board because of the quality of the "American Reunion" script, which tells the story of -- shocker -- the gang returning to its hometown to attend a high school reunion. The franchise also held a lot of sentimental value for its stars, since "American Pie" launched many of their careers in Hollywood.

Chris Klein, for one, said that when he landed the role of Oz more than a decade ago, he had "just enough money to last in this town for two more weeks."

"I was auditioning for acting roles, and I got cast in the very first 'American Pie,' which means I got to stay here," he said with a grin.


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'American Reunion': How Universal revived its oldest teen franchise

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Thomas Ian Nicholas, from left, Seann William Scott, Jason Biggs, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Chris Klein at the premiere of "American Reunion." Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

'21 Jump Street': With Tatum and Hill, 'All the hotness is here'

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill at the premiere of 21 Jump Street

Last year, Jonah Hill established that he had dramatic acting chops in "Moneyball," as his supporting role in the baseball film earned him an Oscar nomination. This year, the actor's "21 Jump Street" costar Channing Tatum is out to prove the opposite: That he can crack a joke.

Hill, who co-wrote the story that plays off of the '80s television series that launched Johnny Depp's career, said he intentionally sought out Tatum for the movie because the actor didn't have a comedic background.

"I wanted someone in the part who didn't come from doing a lot of comedies so it would feel fresh to people to see someone do something they've never done before," he explained on the red carpet at the film's Tuesday night premiere in Hollywood.

"I got that opportunity last year with 'Moneyball,' and I was so happy with the way it turned out that I wanted to do that for somebody else."

Tatum, who grew up watching the TV show every Friday night with his sister, said the project intrigued him because it was a "complete departure" from the program he knew and loved.

"The show is like a very serious drama, and ours is 'Bad Boys' meets a John Hughes movie," Hill added.

In the movie, the actors are Jenko and Schmidt, two inept cops who are sent by a harsh police captain, played by Ice Cube, on an undercover mission to bust a high school drug ring.

Asked why he believed this is the right time to bring back "21 Jump Street," Ice Cube had this to say: "Jonah's ready to do it, you know what I mean? He's hot. Channing's hot. I'm hot. All the hotness is here."

"21 Jump Street" opens Friday.


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-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Channing Tatum, left, and Jonah Hill at the premiere of "21 Jump Street." Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Jessica Chastain: Grandma calmed her down at the Oscars

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain — who appeared in a whopping six releases last year, "The Help" and "The Tree of Life" among them — still felt like the new girl in town Sunday as she made her way down the Oscars red carpet.

"It's incredible.... It's something that I always dreamed about. It kind of actually means that I'm doing it," Chastain said, taking in her surroundings.

"I've wanted to be an actor and now it's like, 'Wow, I'm at the Oscars. This is great,'" said the supporting actress nominee, whose "Help" costar Octavia Spencer wound up taking home the trophy.

"I'm with my grandma and so that calms me down a bit because it reminds me to see it all through her eyes."



Oscars 2012: Where in the world is Ryan Gosling?

Oscars 2012: For nominee Viola Davis, it's 'the final celebration'

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes | Cheat Sheet | Winners

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Jessica Chastain on the Oscars red carpet Sunday. Credit: Joel Ryan / Associated Press


Oscars 2012: For nominee Viola Davis, it's 'the final celebration'

Viola Davis

After months of exhaustive press tours to promote her role in "The Help," Viola Davis on Sunday said Oscar night brought a sense of relief.

"It's the final celebration. The final blow-out," the best actress nominee said with a smile.

By her side, as usual, was her husband Julius Tennon, who has supported her on every red carpet this award season.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

"From the moment I met him, I said, 'I gotta have him,' because he's the best man in the world," she gushed. "His integrity and his capacity to love and his loyalty -- you can't compare."

Davis, an academy member, didn't have words as kind for the organization. Asked to respond to the argument that the academy is only as diverse as the industry, the actress said: "I don't think that that's what Hollywood is.

"I think that that's probably who's just accepted into the academy."



Oscars 2012: Where in the world is Ryan Gosling?

Oscars 2012: Nick Nolte doesn't really hang out with this crowd

Oscars red carpet: Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Dictator' targets Ryan Seacrest

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Viola Davis on the Oscars red carpet Sunday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Oscars 2012: Michelle Williams, now a better-dressed misfit

Busy Phillips and Michelle Williams

At the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, Michelle Williams endeared herself to the audience when she accepted an award and said she'd long felt like a Hollywood misfit.

Decked out in a Louis Vuitton gown at the Oscars on Sunday, the actress said she felt like "a better-dressed misfit."

As usual, Williams brought former "Dawson's Creek" costar Busy Philipps as her awards-show plus-one, and the two held hands as they walked down the carpet.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

"It's always fun to be with Busy," she said. "It's fun to be stuck in the desert with no gas with Busy."



Oscars 2012: Where in the world is Ryan Gosling?

OSCARS: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

Oscars red carpet: The stars, the dresses -- and two more inches

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Busy Philipps, left, and Michelle Williams on the Oscars red carpet Sunday in Hollywood. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.

Oscars 2012: George Clooney would dig a more diverse academy

George Clooney and Stacy Keibler

George Clooney was as calm as ever walking down the Academy Awards red carpet Sunday, that same charming smile on his face as per usual.

"This is fun because usually it's people who want to have a good time," he said. "This is sort of the Super Bowl of all of the events."

Clooney, up for the two biggest awards of the night -- actor in a leading role for "The Descendants" and adapted screenplay for "The Ides of March," plus "The Descendants" is up for best picture -- said he had the sense it was "going to be a pretty big French night," referring to "The Artist."

PHOTOS: Oscars 2012 red carpet arrivals

"And I'm all right with it, because I really like the film."

Meanwhile, the actor, who has been an academy member since 2006, said he was hopeful the organization would become more diverse.

"That'd be a good idea, don't ya think?" he joked. "I think it represents almost every -- directors in Hollywood, as well. It represents not just Hollywood. You can look at the Senate and it's roughly the same thing. I don't think to diversify is ever a bad idea."

But how does the group actually make change happen?

"It's a tricky thing. I think you'd have to open it up to more, as opposed to trying to kick people out," he said. "Instead of taking their cards away."



Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

Oscars: Red Carpet | Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes Ballot

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: George Clooney and Stacy Keibler on the Oscars red carpet Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times


Oscars 2012: Nick Nolte doesn't really hang out with this crowd

Nick Nolte with his son, Brawley Nolte

Nick Nolte wasn't very excited to be at the Oscars on Sunday.

"I'm not really excited deep down inside," the supporting actor nominee admitted. Why so glum, we wondered?

"Because I don't know anyone here. There's nobody that I really hang out with," Nolte said. "I'm not going to have any real deep conversations."

PHOTOS: Oscars 2012 red carpet arrivals

Nolte was happy to be sitting next to his son, Brawley Nolte. As for his chances against shoo-in Christopher Plummer, he said he wasn't frustrated that he wasn't considered the category's front-runner.

"I've had times here where the Vegas odds are in my favor," he said. "I'm not anxious to win because it's a terrible responsibility, what you have to do when you win.

"You've gotta talk to people all over the world. You've gotta pose for a picture with all the winners. It's a lot of work."


Oscars 2012: Where in the world is Ryan Gosling?

OSCARS: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

Oscars red carpet: The stars, the dresses -- and two more inches

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Nick Nolte, right, with son Brawley Nolte on the Academy Awards red carpet Sunday. Credit: Joe Klamar / AFP / Getty Images


Oscars 2012: Where in the world is Ryan Gosling?

Ryan Gosling

To the dismay of many fans, Ryan Gosling was missing from the Oscars red carpet Sunday.

It was rumored the actor was working on a film in Asia, and "Ides of March" screenwriter Beau Willimon — up for adapted screenplay with Grant Heslov and George Clooney — said he wouldn't find that surprising, describing Gosling as a guy who "never stops."

"That's what I think is fantastic about him: his work ethic and his determination and his love for making movies. Sometimes he comes to these things, and sometimes he's busy," Willimon said. 

PHOTOS: Oscars 2012 red carpet arrivals

"But as long as he keeps making movies, that's the important thing."

And if Willimon wins tonight, he's not expecting to hear any words of congratulations from Gosling.

"It would be great to hear from him, but I know how busy he gets on set."


OSCARS: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

Oscars red carpet: The stars, the dresses -- and two more inches

Oscars 2012: All eyes on Billy Crystal, Sacha Baron Cohen and, yes, nominees

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ryan Gosling, right, with George Clooney at the "Ides of March" premiere in September. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times.


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