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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Stephen Daldry

Actor John Goodman does both silent and 'Extremely Loud'

January 30, 2012 |  6:00 am

John Goodman
John Goodman has stolen plenty of scenes with midsize and supporting roles, including memorable turns as the unhinged bowler and Vietnam veteran Walter in “The Big Lebowski,” the everyman father Dan on the TV series “Roseanne” and the lovable blue beast Sulley in the animated film “Monsters Inc.” This year, Goodman pops up in two high-profile Oscar contenders, playing a movie studio boss in the old Hollywood-inspired silent film “The Artist” and a doorman in the 9/11 drama “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

Goodman spoke to 24 Frames from London, where he is working on the BBC miniseries “Dancing on the Edge,” about his work in two very different films.

You’re in two movies up for best picture at the Academy Awards. That must be gratifying.
Right now it’s cool. It would be cooler if one of them wins. But it’s just nice to be in successful things.

Let’s start with “The Artist.” How different was it acting in a silent film?
It goes back to the old days where you’d put up a scenario and then improvise your dialogue. The only challenge really was improvising with Jean Dujardin, who doesn’t speak any English — or, he didn’t at the time. He’s learning very rapidly. And I done flunked high school French. But we knew what we were talking about, and we listened very closely to each other, which led to a great ensemble feeling. Everybody knew they were doing something that was a little off, a little different, a little special. It created a great camaraderie in the cast. [But] the acting wasn’t really any different. You just look at each other and pay attention and listen.

Are you a big fan of silent movies?
Yeah. The older I get, the more I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into what we do. Watching those guys creating, especially like Buster Keaton, [Charlie] Chaplin, I can’t believe that they did the stuff they do. Incredible skills went into it. What I’m learning to appreciate now is like my character [in “The Artist”] — these were really tough. They wanted to entertain people and wanted to put butts in the seats. To do that, they had to wrestle all kinds of stuff but ultimately have a gut feeling about what looked good up there and what people wanted to see.

What was it like working with director Michel Hazanavicius?
He presented me with a scenario for the movie since they couldn’t show me a screenplay, which was a beautiful printed scenario — it had pictures of old Hollywood movies. The way he presented it to me, I said, “Well this guy really knows his onions and he knows what he wants and he obviously has a passion for it.” So he kind of sold me there. And then we met on Wilshire Boulevard and talked about what he wanted to do, and I was ready to go.

You’re also in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” a very different film in terms of tone, story and setting. Do you see any similarities between the two films?
Well, “The Artist” is a story of loss and redemption, and I guess in a way, “Extremely Loud” is as well.

What was it like working with director Stephen Daldry?
Oh, he was great. He’s story-first. He seemed to me like a theater guy, because he set up a  rehearsal space in Brooklyn and we went over the scenes over and over and over again. I just love that. I really like to rehearse, figure out what I’m doing. I actually only wound up working one day on [the film], and they kept asking me if I still wanted to do it, and I said, “Yeah, I’m in.” The screenplay was very moving when I read it, and I wanted to be a part of it. I’ll follow Stephen Daldry off a roof.

It sounds as though there was a lot of improvisation on “The Artist” and more rehearsal on “Extremely Loud.” Do you have a preferred way of working?
I do whatever they tell me to pretty much, but I do like to rehearse to get it down. To me it pays off because I’m a slow learner. I don’t trust myself to improvise. Thank god the microphones were not on [for “The Artist”]. But the more you do it, you get better and better at it.

They say comedy is one of the hardest things to do in show business. As someone who’s done his fair share, do you find that to be true?
It’s difficult, but I don’t think it’s as hard as people say it is. It’s something you feel. You either got it or you ain’t.

You’ve been to the Academy Awards before. Is there anything you’d add to, subtract from or change about the show?
No [laughs]. The show is what it is. I don’t think they should worry about pleasing people. I think that’s been a fault in the past. They worry about trying to get a new audience or whatever — just relax and be the Oscars.

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: 'The Artist,' 'Extremely Loud' up for best picture

John Goodman on what the actors say in a silent movie [video]

Directors Roundtable: Daldry, Hazanavicius and others talk shop

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: John Goodman as studio boss Al Zimmer in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.


Martin Scorsese on being reviewed: 'You can't be bothered'

January 25, 2012 |  1:03 pm

There are certain external indicators filmmakers can look to when trying to evaluate the quality of their work — positive reviews, triumph at the box office, awards gold — but even these are imperfect measures. So how and when do filmmakers know if they've made a good movie?

At the recent Envelope Directors Roundtable, Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), George Clooney ("The Ides of March") and Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close") addressed that question.

"I have a problem: I always think it's good," Hazanavicius said of his work. "So I think I'm not a good judge, really." But, he added, "What's true one day in October on a set, it's not the same truth four months later in an editing room. So I try to trust what I wrote, to trust what I storyboarded and to let things happen on set."

Payne said he has confident days and not-so-confident days: "Some days I am Orson Welles," he said. "Other days I am the worst loser, impostor, know-nothing, wannabe filmmaker in the world. I believe both with equal conviction."

Scorsese added that it's important to focus on the work and have confidence, without paying too much attention to concerns like movie reviews. "If you read the good ones, you might believe those, and if you read the bad ones, you certainly believe those," Scorsese said. "At a certain point, you've got to work."

Check out their full conversation in the video above.

RELATED:

Directors Roundtable: All seven videos

Directors Roundtable: An anxious, joyful art

Oscars 2012: Scorsese, Hazanavicius, Payne vie for best director

— Oliver Gettell


George Clooney on directing: 'Forward momentum' is important

January 23, 2012 |  6:40 pm

Whether a director is trying to coax a nuanced emotional performance or a death-defying stunt from an actor, earning their trust is an important part of the job.

Filmmakers George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist") recently visited the Envelope Directors Roundtable and discussed how crucial trust is on a set and how they establish it.

Clooney, who has worked on both sides of the camera, offered a different perspective. As an actor, he said, he inherently has faith in directors whose work he admires. "If I've seen movies of yours that I like and think are good," he said, "then I automatically have a trust."

One of the challenges Clooney has faced in his transition to directing has been earning that same measure of trust with his own casts. "That's a tricky thing to do," he said, but he attempts to do so by keeping things moving, having a point of view and being confident in his choices. "If actors smell blood in the water, the first thing they do is sort of take over," he said.

Hear more of what Clooney and his peers had to say in the video above, and check back tomorrow for a new video from the roundtable.

RELATED:

Alexander Payne on directing: casting is 'first among equals'

Stephen Daldry: Young Thomas Horn is 'a proper leading man'

Martin Scorsese: Doing just one shot makes a fine 'first half-day'

— Oliver Gettell


Alexander Payne on directing: casting is 'first among equals'

January 21, 2012 | 11:49 am

Filmmaking is by nature a collaborative process, but when people think of a movie, it's usually the cast — more so than the editor, writer, cinematographer or even director — that pops into their head first.

Filmmakers George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") sat down with The Times' John Horn at the recent Envelope Directors Roundtable and talked about the importance and challenges of assembling a good cast.

For Payne, the actors are at the core of any film. He said, "No matter how well lit and shot and everything, [people will ask] 'Who's in it? Are they good? Do you believe them?' They are the primary conveyors of the tone of the film, from the director to the audience through the actors."

The cast is "indispensible," Scorsese chimed in.  "You can have different cinematographers … you can have a different director, literally, but you need the actor up there. You need them."

See more of what Payne, Scorsese and the others had to say in the video above, and check back next week for two more clips from the round table.

RELATED:

Stephen Daldry: Young Thomas Horn is 'a proper leading man'

Martin Scorsese: Doing just one shot makes a fine 'first half-day'

Alexander Payne: Machinery of filmmaking mars 'intimacy of a shoot'

— Oliver Gettell


Stephen Daldry: Young Thomas Horn is 'a proper leading man'

January 19, 2012 | 12:02 pm

Alexander Payne Michel Hazanavicius Stephen Daldry Martin Scorse and George Clooney

Never work with children or animals, says the old show-business adage — advice largely ignored by five of this year's top directors.

In a visit to the recent Envelope Directors Roundtable, filmmakers Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist") and George Clooney ("The Ides of March") spoke to The Times' John Horn about some of the unique challenges of working with kids and dogs.

In the case of Daldry and Thomas Horn (no relation to John), the 14-year-old star of "Extremely Loud," the director had to work around regulated hours, schooling sessions and meal breaks. "You don't have them for long," Daldry said of child actors.

Luckily, Thomas' talent made up for the extra work. "In terms of his professionalism and dedication and his preparation and his charm on set and his clarity and intelligence — no issues at all," Daldry said of the young actor, a first-timer. "He was fantastic."

Scorsese rattled off a list of challenges he faced shooting "Hugo": two child actors (Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz), a 3-D camera rig, dogs — "and then Sacha Baron Cohen," he deadpanned.

See more of what the directors had to say in the video below, and check back for more clips from the Directors Roundtable on Friday and next week.

RELATED:

George Clooney, director: I look for films 'in my wheelhouse'

Martin Scorsese: Doing just one shot makes a fine 'first half-day'

Alexander Payne: Machinery of filmmaking mars 'intimacy of a shoot'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Directors Alexander Payne, from left, Michel Hazanavicius, Stephen Daldry, Martin Scorsese and George Clooney gather to discuss their craft. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Alexander Payne: Machinery of filmmaking mars 'intimacy of a shoot'

January 18, 2012 |  2:20 pm

George Clooney, Martin Scorsese, Stephen Daldry, Michel Hazanavicius, and Alexander Payne (from left) joined The Times' John Horn (in blue shirt) to talk about the art of moviemaking at the Envelope's Directors Roundtable

Given all the moving parts involved in making a motion picture, it's inevitable that things will go wrong and bad days will be had. When that happens, it's up to the director to get things back on track.

At this year's third annual Envelope Directors Roundtable, filmmakers Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), George Clooney ("The Ides of March") and Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist") shared some of their setbacks and off days with Times film reporter John Horn.

Payne groused about the logistical nightmare of shooting on the water: "For a nice little scene of a couple people spreading ashes," he said, "it's like we call out the damn National Guard."

Daldry recounted a time when David Kross, a young actor in his previous film "The Reader," broke his arm shooting a stunt that didn't even make the final cut of the movie. Fortunately, though Kross was initially expected to be out three months, "He was back the next day," Daldry said.

Some days, Scorsese said, "you don't have the spark. Something is lost." And, he added, "you know it."

To hear more about the directors' mishaps, and how they dealt with them, watch the video below. And check back for more clips from the Directors Roundtable throughout the week.

RELATED:

9/11 drama puts director Stephen Daldry to the test

George Clooney on directing: I look for films 'in my wheelhouse'

Martin Scorsese: Doing just one shot makes a fine 'first half-day'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: George Clooney, left, Martin Scorsese, Stephen Daldry, Michel Hazanavicius, and Alexander Payne joined The Times' John Horn, third from left, to talk about the art of moviemaking. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Martin Scorsese: Doing just one shot makes a fine 'first half-day'

January 17, 2012 |  5:24 pm

Martin Scorsese, Stephen Daldry and George Clooney before the Envelope's Directors Roundtable
Even big-time filmmakers aren't immune to a bit of anxiety when it comes to the first day on set. One prominent director admits that all the apparatus of a Hollywood production puts him on edge: "I'm always fearing it's going to mar the intimacy of what I'm hoping to shoot."

Another finds himself grappling with self-doubt: "It's really scary for me. I think to myself, 'Why did I want that? Why did I ask all these people to make something?' "

At The Times' recent Directors Roundtable, filmmakers Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") talked about how nerve-racking it can be to start a new film, and how they deal with it.

Daldry and Scorsese said they often ease into a shoot with tests, rehearsals or single shots. On the other hand, Payne acknowledged that sometimes one has to dive right into a big scene, as logistical issues forced him to do on "The Descendants." And Clooney shared a crafty directing trick he borrowed from Sidney Lumet.

Hear more of what they had to say in the video below. Check back for more clips throughout the week.

RELATED:

The return of Alexander Payne

Michel Hazanavicius takes a gamble on silent film

George Clooney on directing: I look for films 'in my wheelhouse'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Martin Scorsese, Stephen Daldry and George Clooney before the Envelope's Directors Roundtable. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


George Clooney on directing: I look for films 'in my wheelhouse'

January 16, 2012 |  4:30 pm

George Clooney and Martin Scorsese at The Envelope's directors roundtable
Every film begins with a decision — not whom to cast, where to shoot or how much to spend, but simply what to make. At The Times' third annual Directors Roundtable, five of the year's top filmmakers came together to discuss their current Oscar-contending films and their creative processes, which start with that first choice of what story to tell.

In this first excerpt from the roundtable, directors George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") talk to The Times' John Horn about how they decide which movies to bring to life.

"I've been lucky enough to experience different reasons for making pictures," Scorsese says. "Primarily the ones that I've always been very passionate about are the ones I've simply had to get made at one point or another, and I was pretty lucky to get them made over the years."

Hazanavicius adds, "There's a hunch, something that tells you there's a good movie to make, and there's a movie I can be comfortable with for two years or three years [while making it] and actually the rest of your life, because you have to live with it."

See all of what the directors had to say in the video below, and check back every day this week for a new clip from the roundtable.

RELATED:

Golden Globes: Martin Scorsese wins best director

9/11 drama puts director Stephen Daldry to the test

George Clooney on Alexander Payne: 'He doesn't work enough'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: George Clooney and Martin Scorsese at the Envelope Directors Roundtable. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.


'The Reader' director Stephen Daldry a candidate to direct 'Breaking Dawn'

March 25, 2010 | 12:15 pm

Read

EXCLUSIVE: Add this name to the list of high-end auteurs who are being considered for the director's chair on "Breaking Dawn": Stephen Daldry.

Yep, that Stephen Daldry, the man who directed such Oscar fare as "Billy Elliot," "The Reader" and "The Hours."

Daldry joins a list that includes Sofia Coppola, Bill Condon and Gus Van Sant, all of whom have been approached about taking on the fourth film in the "Twilight" franchise. Like those three, there are not yet indications Daldry would actually take the gig, but the fact that Summit Entertainment, the studio behind the films, has reached out to him suggests where its intentions lie for the fourth film.

By this point nothing should surprise us about the names Summit is considering. (Well, James Cameron would surprise us. But he's pretty much the only one.) The fourth book contains more complicated material as the story opens up (warning: spoiler alert), with part of the novel written from werewolf Jacob's perspective and Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan carrying a child.

Having already gone indie with Catherine Hardwicke, polished/commercial with Chris Weitz and genre auteur with David Slade for the franchise's first three movies, Summit clearly wants a high-end prestige filmmaker to handle the fourth picture.

DaldryStill, even by those standards, Daldry stands out. He's been nominated for three Oscars, more than any of the other directors on the short list. In fact, Daldry is the rare filmmaker who's been nominated for a best directing Oscar for every feature he's made.

Those credentials make taking on a global teen phenomenon seem unlikely, though there are reasons to think it could work. The director is well-versed in depicting forbidden love (a "Twilight" staple) with "The Reader" and "The Hours." And he's adept at themes of family alienation, also a franchise fixture, which ran under "Billy Elliot." Also, like most of the others, Daldry doesn't yet have a new film.

The fourth "Twilight" movie -- which will likely take only a piece of "Breaking Dawn" as the film is split into two -- will in all likelihood be shot in the fall. That gives Summit a little more time to comb through high-end directors. Academy Award winners, take note: Vampires and werewolves are coming for you.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photoa: David Cross and Kate Winslet in "The Reader:" Credit: The Weinstein Company. Stephen Daldry on the set of "Billy Elliot." Credit: Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures

RECENT AND RELATED:

Who's the best choice to direct Breaking Dawn?


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