Michelle Williams' "My Week with Marilyn" has already screened at a number of prominent film festivals, but there was a special aura at the film's Hollywood premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Sunday.
Williams, who stars as Marilyn Monroe in the upcoming release, seemed somewhat in awe of her surroundings as she walked the red carpet at the AFI Fest event.
"I've never gone to where her hands and feet are and tried to put mine in there," Williams said, standing within feet of where Monroe put her prints in concrete in 1952. "But after tonight, I think I'd like to do that."
Williams' performance as the tragic blond icon is already generating award-season buzz, but the 31-year-old said she she's still anxious about how the film will be received by moviegoers and critics.
"Oh gosh, of course," the actress said of being nervous about the film's reception. "At this point, there's nothing I can do. There's nothing I can add, there's nothing I can subtract. It's all over. But don't you always want people to like what you do?"
Williams has said that she had to put herself in an especially vulnerable, fragile place to play Monroe -- something director Simon Curtis observed on set.
"She is a brilliantly intuitive actress who just works so hard to understand the complexity of her characters. And part of her quality is a fragility that chimed with Marilyn," the filmmaker said, adding that he hopes audiences will view Monroe in a different light after watching his movie.
"I hope they'll really value her, as we all did working on the film. She wasn't this sort of airhead, helpless woman. She actually was a very smart woman doing her best in a difficult time."
It seems every actor dreams of working with director Clint Eastwood. So when that opportunity presents itself, most wouldn't dare pass it up.
At the premiere of "J. Edgar" in Hollywood on Thursday, many of the stars of Eastwood's latest movie revealed numerous sacrifices, big and small, that were made to be a part of the biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Naomi Watts told the Ministry she rearranged her schedule to take a part in the film about the infamous FBI director. Newcomer Armie Hammer overcame an intense case of nerves. And Josh Lucas even groveled -- writing Eastwood a fan letter.
"Years ago, I sent him a fan letter and said I am a massive, massive fan of your movies, and if I could come be an extra, I would do anything," admitted Lucas, who plays Charles Lindbergh. "I think a lot of people [imagine] that these sort of legends are untouchable, and the world forgets that they love the feedback, in particular, from fellow actors and people they maybe admire as well."
Watts, meanwhile, was looking to take a break from work when she was approached about playing Hoover's loyal secretary. She'd just completed six months on another project shooting in Thailand and Spain, and was eager to get back to her "normal place with the kids back in nursery school," she said.
"In fact, when my agent said 'You’re gonna get an offer,' I was like, 'Oh no!'" she recalled with a smile. "And then it was like, 'Clint Eastwood wants to talk to you about this role,' and, of course, immediate interest."
Hammer, who got his big break last year playing the Winkelvoss twins in "The Social Network," was even more eager to jump on board -- so much that he hired a professional researcher to help him learn more about Clyde Tolson, Hoover's confidant and rumored lover. Still, he was racked with anxiety about showing up to set the first day.
"Especially as a newbie to this game –- as the newcomer in it -– I was like, terrified. Because I knew, 'Oh, Leo is going to come in and have great choices. He's gonna do awesome. And Naomi? What am I gonna do?' I really had to make sure that I brought my A-game as much as possible," he said.
"You don’t really have much of a choice. You just gotta sarge on."
"I like to see what the actors bring to the table before I start making comments," Eastwood explained. "In other words, I feel that directors who start making comments before they've even seen what goes down are usually just trying to convince themselves about what the next shot is going to be."
Eastwood allowed DiCaprio, for one, the creative freedom to make his own choice about Hoover's true sexuality. Even so, the actor says he's still unsure if Hoover and Tolson were more than just close friends.
"To tell you the truth, I don’t have the answer to that and I don't think anyone alive really does," DiCaprio told E’s Marc Malkin. "If you talk to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they're staunch believers of the fact that these two men carried out a very professional relationship and they were inseparable pals.
"And then you talk to a whole other community of people and they say, 'Are you ridiculous? These men went on every vacation together. They ate breakfast, lunch and dinner to dinner. They went to work together. They were together for 50 years. They lived together. They were buried together. They never had a family and never had a girlfriend.' Put it together in your mind."
Shailene Woodley is already a TV star, but the 19-year-old has yet to make a name on the big screen. That will likely change this fall when she stars opposite George Clooney in "The Descendants."
In the much-buzzed-about movie, the star of ABC Family's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" plays the angsty daughter of Clooney's character, and the two spend the film trying to repair their troubled relationship. In real life, the 19-year-old and the 50-year-old get along far better, Woodley said Monday at the Hollywood Film Awards, where she was the recipient of a Spotlight prize.
"I don't think [we connected] really in a father-daughter way, because he's not my dad. But we did connect in a human-to-human way," she said with a smile on the red carpet. "He's a really amazing human. I would say he's a superhuman. And I just kind of stood there and like a sponge and soaked up all of his greatness because he has so much to offer."
Woodley, who has long wanted to transition from TV to film, explained that she found the slower pace of a movie set conducive to the creative process.
"When you do a TV show, you do maybe eight scenes a day -- and on a movie, you do one. So it was great to have the freedom to be creative," she said. "I do think it's a very different role for me than I've done before. So I'm excited to show that side of me."
While she has yet to line up any additional film projects, Woodley said she is trying to embrace the chaos of her first run on the award circuit.
"It's the kind of thing that you can't really conceptualize. You just go with it," she said of the endless promotion. "You're so endlessly grateful for every day and at the end of the day you're like, 'Did that really just happen?' "
"The Help" became a surprise hit at the box office over the summer, grossing more than $175 million worldwide -- and months later, star Viola Davis still seems bowled over by the movie's success.
"It's not only been a box-office success. It's been a heart success for people," Davis said at the Hollywood Awards on Monday night, where she and a number of "The Help" cast members were on hand to accept the prize for best ensemble.
"People feel again. They're coming out of this movie feeling something and not just saying, 'Oh, it was a great escape for two hours.' Their hearts have been convicted. That's big."
Before the film hit theaters, cast member Allison Janney admitted she was nervous that the movie’s ticket sales might not compare to the sales of the popular book upon which "The Help" is based.
"I knew there was a lot of pressure on us because of the success of the book. Like, 'Oh my God, is this gonna possibly do as well?' " Janney said. "I don't know how you can equate the two, but I think the movie has far surpassed what anyone thought it would do at the box office, certainly."
The film's popularity has even opened doors for some of its stars in Hollywood. Octavia Spencer, known prior to "The Help" largely as a character actress, said the film has led to a wealth of new career opportunities –- she's about to start work on Diablo Cody's directorial debut.
"I'm so thrilled. I never, ever would have had that opportunity before now," Spencer said. "I've never really gotten to play roles, I've only gotten to play parts ... a part usually is like something to facilitate the plot. To do a role where a character experiences some type of change from beginning to end is something I've never had the opportunity to do. So it's wonderful."
Photo: Emma Stone, left, Allison Janney, Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Ahna O'Reilly, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Mary Steenburgen at the Hollywood Awards on Monday. Credit: Kristian Dowling / Associated Press
Shia LaBeouf made headlines last summer when he said he wouldn't be back for any more "Transformers" movies -- but Rosie Huntington-Whiteley says her costar just might be up for more alien-robot action.
"We'll see about that," Huntington-Whiteley told us Monday at the Hollywood Awards, seemingly doubtful about LaBeouf's statement. Asked if the actor could be persuaded to return for another "Transformers," she replied: "I think so. He'll kill me for saying that."
Huntington-Whiteley's role in Michael Bay's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" was the Victoria's Secret model's first turn on the big screen -- and she said it was more than she ever expected to do as an actress.
"['Transformers'] has opened so many doors for me, and I feel so excited for my future and future ventures and career," said the woman who topped Maxim's Hot 100 list this year.
"I think everybody is always watching, and you're under a microscope. I definitely think I have a lot more hopefully to get the opportunity to show. ... I'm brand new, so I've got a lot to learn."
Johnny Depp has already channeled the spirit of his late friend, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, a number of times on the big screen.
Over a decade ago, Depp brought the writer's wild alter-ego to life in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Earlier this year, he said the personality of the animated lizard he played in "Rango" was inspired by Thompson, who committed suicide in 2005. And in just a few weeks, Depp will continue his effort to keep the icon's image alive with "The Rum Diary," based on one of Thompson's novels and costarring Aaron Eckhart and Amber Heard.
The movie, shot back in 2009, was a passion project for Depp, who said he still has visions of Thompson and feels the writer's spirit is with him "24 hours a day."
"There's this great friend that I knew and loved who left this world in 2005, and still stays with me somehow," he mused on the red carpet at the premiere of "The Rum Diary" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Thursday evening. "I mean, literally, my head hits the pillow, I think of him. I wake up in the morning, I think of him."
Depp plays a journalist who moves to Puerto Rico and begins working at a troubled newspaper where he and his co-workers become booze hounds. The story draws heavily from Thompson's experiences in the tropical paradise, where he worked in his 20s in a similar environment.
That Depp was so familiar with Thompson's story proved to be an asset for the actor's costars.
"Johnny just knows Hunter so well and knows the words and is so involved in the project that it's just effortless," said Eckhart, who plays a rival of Depp's character.
"It's a passion project for him, and it made me trust all the more in the material," added actress Heard, "The Rum Diary's" love interest. "It was a wild ride."
Nearly from the instant Paramount announced plans to remake the classic '80s dance flick "Footloose," the project has been plagued by problems.
Ren McCormack, the rebellious protagonist made famous by Kevin Bacon, was initially slated to be played by Zac Efron in the modern version. But Efron wanted to distance himself from his "High School Musical" days and accordingly dropped off the movie. He was replaced by "Gossip Girl" star Chace Crawford, who eventually quit as well because of a scheduling conflict between the movie and the CW teen soap.
Ultimately, the studio settled upon Kenny Wormald, a native of Stoughton, Mass., with little acting experience who had been a backup dancer for the likes of Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey.
At the "Footloose" premiere in Westwood on Monday night, Wormald said he was less nervous about being a replacement but more anxious because of his respect for the original movie.
"When those guys were attached, I was jealous. I was like, 'Oh, I could do Ren justice. Give me a chance,' " he said in a thick Boston accent. "And then when I heard that they opened casting to an 'unknown,' I was so pumped and I just beelined it toward the prize."
Meanwhile, some fans of the original are still angry that a new version is hitting theaters Oct. 14 -- regardless of who its star is.
"People are getting really hateful, saying, 'You should not remake this movie. You should burn in hell.' I've heard some crazy stuff," said Miles Teller, who plays Ren's best friend, Willard. "I would just say, 'Calm down with that.' We're celebrating the original .... We're all very excited to do it, and it's good for new actors to get a chance."
Andie MacDowell -- one of the only cast members who remembers what it was like when the original "Footloose" was released -- believes audiences could do with some fun.
"I think we need a movie that makes us feel good," she said. "I think everything is so depressing and everybody is exhausted from worrying about the economy that everybody just needs to go out and have a good time."
With two high-profile films coming out this fall, George Clooney has been seemingly everywhere the last few weeks. (Not that we're complaining, of course.) His new film, "The Ides of March" -- a political thriller that he produced, directed and stars in -- opens Oct. 7, followed by a turn in "The Descendants," Alexander Payne's buzz-worthy family drama out a month later.
"I always feel like I'm competing against myself. Every morning I feel like I'm competing against myself," Clooney said at the "Ides" premiere in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, joking about his potential overexposure.
"No, I'm having fun," he said with a smile. "I'm having a fun year, because I get to work with Alexander Payne, who's a wonderful director on a really wonderful film, and I get to work with all these terrific actors ..."
In "Ides of March," Clooney takes on the role of Gov. Mike Morris, a democrat seeking the presidency whose campaign manager -- played by Ryan Gosling -- threatens to derail his political ambitions. Gosling, whose performance is already earning critical accolades, said Clooney had a different style of working on set than he was used to.
"He works so fast," the 30-year-old said of the 50-year-old. "I think he feels a lot of pressures as a guy, because he's the producer, director and the star and he tries very hard to keep a light environment on the set. He's always doing impersonations and singing for the crew and telling jokes. He does a lot of work to make sure it's fun for everybody."
But it was acting with Gosling that was pleasant for Evan Rachel Wood, who shares a number of steamy scenes with him in the film.
The actress said that in recent weeks she's been approached by "a lot of jealous girls" who are Gosling fans. "And I totally get it," she said. "All I have to say is, basically, he's everything you would hope and expect. He's awesome and cool and fun. He's a good guy."
"I always did drama growing up. I was always a serious kid and sort of fell into comedy. It wasn't intentional. So it's never really felt like completely at home."
In her new movie, out Sept. 30, Faris stars as a young woman perpetually unlucky in love and beginning to fret that she's sleeping around too much for a woman her age. Accordingly, she enlists the help of her neighbor, played by Chris Evans, to help her track down her ex-boyfriends in the hope that years later they may have become husband material.
Faris, known to many for her role as a ditzy sorority house leader in "The House Bunny," served as an executive producer on the new film.
"It's tricky, because there just aren't that many scripts out there for women in comedy. If there are, they're sort of the bounce card character — they're the character that's the straight women to the funny guy," she explained. "So I think that it sort of forced me to be a little proactive and try to find those scripts and develop them."
Evans said he signed on to the project largely because of Faris' hand in its development.
"She's not afraid to make a fool of herself — on camera and in life," he said at the Westwood event. "She's so modest. She has no ego. The first joke she'll make will be about herself. And it's pretty endearing in life, and it comes across on screen."
Taylor Lautner is no stranger to red-carpet fanfare. As a veteran of the "Twilight" franchise, he's become accustomed to girls lunging toward him, desperate for autographs or photographs.
But at the premiere of each "Twilight" film, all of the attention isn't centered on the 19-year-old — fans also go wild for his costars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. That wasn't the case Thursday night, when Lautner's new film, "Abduction," premiered in Hollywood.
The John Singleton-directed film is the actor's bid to become an action star and leave his identity as a young heartthrob behind. But if the reception Lautner got outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre was any indication, it'll be a while before he can entirely abandon his teen pinup reputation.
Hundreds of girls lined Hollywood Boulevard, chanting "Taylor!" repeatedly in unison as Lautner made his way down the street, stopping to greet fans for nearly 40 minutes. Though "Abduction" is Lautner's first major role on the big screen, he came across as a veteran movie star, looking polished in a tailored suit and waving to those he didn't have the time to meet.
It's no coincidence that Lautner exudes the presence of a Tom Cruise or a Matt Damon, said Singleton: The director asked the actor to watch the films of such stars to prepare for "Abduction."
"We studied Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon — I mean, we even studied James Dean — because I wanted him to see people that were kind of in his position when they were young and how they evolved and changed as artists, just so he could get a sense of what his own path would be," the filmmaker said.
Lautner, who said he was dazed by the "surreal" scene unveiling around him, said Singleton's suggestion helped him to "get the tone" for "Abduction."
"For Harrison Ford, we chose 'The Fugitive,' for Tom Cruise, 'Minority Report' — like, leading man on the run," he said. "And we got that tone right before we went to film."
In the film, Lautner is Nathan, a high schooler who discovers his face on a missing-persons website and begins questioning his identity. Nathan's psychiatrist is played by Sigourney Weaver, who said she believes Lautner will have a long career in Hollywood.
"He wants it, and I think that's the most important thing," Weaver said on the red carpet. "I always thought he was very good as the Indian-slash-werewolf or whatever he is [in the 'Twilight' films]. I actually think that's a harder role. Because this is in a way — he's playing a normal kid who's thrust into this incredible adventure. So I think actually you get to see more of who Taylor is in this."
For more on Lautner's transition from teen hunk to leading man, check out the profile of him that will be published in Sunday's Los Angeles Times print edition. Yes, ladies, with pictures.