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Category: Woody Allen

LAFF 2012: Woody Allen gives Rome (if not himself) some love

June 15, 2012 |  6:30 am

Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love," starring Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Allen, opened the Los Angeles Film FestivalWoody Allen stood up in front of a Los Angeles Film Festival audience and offered a  glimpse into his self-flagellating mindset. Then he left the podium, and his movie pretty much did the same thing.

Unveiling his new Italy-set ensemble romantic comedy, "To Rome With Love," on the festival's opening night at Regal Cinemas in downtown L.A., Allen told the audience -- perhaps only half-jokingly -- that he was very sensitive to criticism. "If you hate it and think it was a waste of time, don't let me know. I get depressed easily," the 76-year-old Oscar winner told the crowd.

Allen's English- and Italian-language film, which features countless shots of Rome  bathed in a golden light, shows a set of parallel characters teetering on the brink of their own uncertainties.

INTERACTIVE: Films playing at the L.A. Film Festival

Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) uneasily contemplates an affair with his girlfriend's best friend (Ellen Page). Young newlywed Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) wrings his hands as he tries to avoid being caught in a series of lies with a brassy prostitute (Penelope Cruz). His wife Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) self-consciously flirts with an unctuous movie star (Antonio Albanese) as she considers her own affair.

Allen himself even turns up, as a malcontented father of a young American woman marrying into an Italian family. He then questions himself and needles everyone around him -- particularly wife Phyllis (Judy Davis) -- in the manner of countless Allen characters before.

But perhaps no character betrays what Allen the director is thinking more than Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni), in a vignette that's both a criticism of reality-TV fame and an exhumation of Allen's own complicated relationship with celebrity. Perhaps the most boring man in all of Rome, Leopoldo leaves his house one morning to find himself besieged by paparazzi and talk-show hosts obsessing over details as mundane as his breakfast and shaving rituals.

 

Some of this satire seems clearly aimed at a Kim Kardashian famous-for-being-famous brand of celebrity. But Allen's ambivalence about his own public profile is never far from the surface.

INTERACTIVE: Films playing at the L.A. Film Festival

Though it is as serious as a sprinkling of Parmesan -- the new user-friendly title, which replaced the more cryptic "Nero Fiddled" and even more esoteric "Bop DeCameron," seems fitting -- the movie also distills seemingly every Allen preoccupation of the last three decades. Fidelity! Mortality! Sex! Celebrity! (On that last score, Allen does give the final word to a character who says that being a celebrity is "better" than the alternative. And Allen did show up to LAFF, something he didn't do for the Oscars in February.)

"Rome" hits theaters on June 22 courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. Allen and the distributor of course last brought out the time-jumping 'Midnight in Paris," the French stop on Allen's global tour (he next shoots in San Francisco) and an Oscar-anointed blockbuster.

After that warm reception for "Paris," the early reviews of "Rome" have, perhaps inevitably, been mixed, with some holding it up unfavorably to his 2011 best picture nominee.

Allen told the LAFF crowd, "I had a wonderful time making this picture in Rome. That does not mean you will enjoy it," perhaps alluding to those early reviews.

No matter the reaction, Allen shows little sign of letting up. At several points in the new film, Davis' Phyllis tells Allen's Jerry that he "equate[s] retirement with death. As Allen prepares to shoot his eighth (!) movie since turning 70, one gets the sense those words are close to the filmmaker's heart.

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Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love" to open Los Angeles Film Festival

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Fabio Armiliato, Judy Davis and Woody Allen in "To Rome With Love." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics


Woody Allen’s 'To Rome with Love' to open L.A. Film Festival

April 12, 2012 | 11:05 am

To rome with love

After whisking audiences to France last year with “Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen is bringing another Europe-set comedy to the big screen with this year’s “To Rome With Love.” Film Independent announced Thursday that the new movie will open the Los Angeles Film Festival on Thursday, June 14.

Written and directed by Allen, “To Rome With Love” marks the filmmaker’s first on-screen role since 2006’s “Scoop.” Also starring Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz and Greta Gerwig, the film depicts the romances and adventures of people in Rome. The cast plays a collection of Americans and Italians.

“I can’t think of a better way to kick off this year’s festival than with the original independent filmmaker himself, Woody Allen. It’s a true honor for Los Angeles to host the North American premiere of 'To Rome With Love,'” Festival Director Stephanie Allain said in a statement.

The festival's screening at L.A. Live's Regal Cinemas will be the film's North American premiere.

“To Rome With Love” opens in Italy on April 20, and Sony Pictures Classics will distribute the film in the U.S. for a limited release on June 22.

The Los Angeles Film Festival, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, runs June 14-24 and will screen over 200 feature films, shorts and music videos. Passes are currently on sale to past festival attendees and Film Independent members, and will be available to the general public on April 22.

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— Emily Rome

Photo: Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg in "To Rome with Love." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics


Oscars 2012: When Woody Allen got funny at Academy Awards

February 26, 2012 |  8:05 pm

Woody allen
Woody Allen didn't show up on Sunday night to collect his Oscar for original screenplay for "Midnight in Paris" — his fourth Academy Award. It was hardly a surprise — Allen has skipped the ceremony in the past, and he even has passed up the chance to join the academy.

So was Allen actually watching when he won the original screenplay Oscar? The executive who distributed Allen's "Midnight in Paris" said he wasn't sure.

"He wouldn't tell me," Sony Pictures Classics co-chief Tom Bernard told The Times at the lobby bar shortly after the win. "I think he probably has some people who keep him updated."

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

As for whether there was any chance the writer-director would have turned up to the Hollywood ceremony to accept a potential award in person, Bernard said he never held out a lot of hope.

"I tried for a little bit to get him to come, but he thinks it's all..." Bernard said. "He thinks the best movie of the year is 'A Separation" and all this awards stuff is..."

So we can only guess what the 76-year-old Allen might have said had he turned up to deliver an acceptance speech. But he did attend in 2002, and delivered a funny segment that has us wishing he had shown up this year. Have a look ....

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— Steven Zeitchik and Julie Makinen

Photo: Woody Allen on the red carpet before the opening ceremony and the screening of "Midnight in Paris"  at the 64th Cannes Film Festival in May 2011. Credit: Francois Guillot / AFP/Getty Images


Oscars 2012: Woody Allen wins for original screenplay

February 26, 2012 |  7:30 pm

Woody Allen

"Midnight in Paris" writer-director Woody Allen won the Oscar for original screenplay at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday night.

The Paris-set film stars Owen Wilson as a successful Hollywood screenwriter who roams the streets of the French city encountering literary and artistic megaliths of the past in his present. Allen directed the love letter to Paris, which also stars Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Tom Hiddleston and Kathy Bates.

Allen's original screenplay won the Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America award and earned a nod at the BAFTA Film Awards. At the Oscars, Allen was nominated for director and the film was nominated  for best picture and art direction.

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

The director previously won Oscars for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Annie Hall."

"Midnight in Paris" bested "The Artist" writer-director Michel Hazanavicius, "Bridesmaids" writers Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, "Margin Call" writer-director J.C. Chandor and "A Separation" writer-director Asghar Farhadi.

The Academy Awards are taking place in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.

For more Oscars breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.

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— Nardine Saad
twitter.com/NardineSaad

Photo: Woody Allen in November 2011. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times


Oscars 2012: Is this Meryl Streep's best year ever?

February 22, 2012 |  4:57 pm

Meryl Streep in "Iron Lady"

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

Several of Hollywood's biggest names — including Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Glenn Close and Woody Allen -- have had a strong year on the 2011-12 awards circuit: But how does this season compare to some of their career high points?

With the Oscars on Sunday poised to add to their already heaping totals, we put the Heat Meter in a time machine and took a look at how this year stacks up to some of these titans' past triumphs.

Meryl Streep
The most-nominated actress in Academy Awards history has had a strong year — stronger, in fact, than 2002, when she gained heat from two films, “Adaptation” and “The Hours," and stronger than 2006, when she played an ice-queen fashion editor in "The Devil Wears Prada." And it's been a better run than her “Bridges of Madison County” year of 1995.

Streep has 127 Heat Meter points so far this season for her turn as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” If she notches a best actress win Sunday, she'll top her previous hottest year -- 1982, when she won an Oscar for “Sophie's Choice.”

1982 “Sophie's Choice”: 195
1979  "The Deer Hunter": 150
2011* “The Iron Lady”: 127
2002 “Adaptation,” “The Hours": 88
2006 "The Devil Wears Prada": 80
1995 “The Bridges of Madison County”: 44

Glenn Close
With turns in movies such as “Fatal Attraction” and “Dangerous Liaisons,” Close had some very strong years in the 1980s. But her gender-bending role as “Albert Nobbs” in 2011, for which she's racked up 44 points, bests them all. Even if she walks out of the awards venue with her arms empty, Close will still have topped her bunny-boiling year of 1987, when she of course played a vengeful mistress in “Fatal Attraction.”

2011* "Albert Nobbs”: 44
1987 “Fatal Attraction”: 32
1988 “Dangerous Liaisons”: 20
1984 “The Natural”: 12

Woody Allen
Woody had one of the best years in awards history in 1977, when he was nominated for a rare Oscar trifecta of best writer, director and actor for “Annie Hall” (he won for director and writer). The whopping 375 points he gathered throughout that season are one of the all-time best for any filmmaker. Can he get close this year? Not quite. But the 138 points the Woodster has garnered so far as a writer-director on “Midnight in Paris” is still pretty strong. He can add to that with wins on Sunday.

1977 “Annie Hall”: 375
1986 “Hannah and her Sisters”: 177
2011* “Midnight in Paris”: 138
1994 "Bullets Over Broadway": 34

Martin Scorsese
If you're the much-acclaimed, often Oscar-deprived Martin Scorsese, perhaps no year will compare to 2006, when “The Departed” won you your first golden statuette. The crime auteur scored a killer 275 Heat Meter points that year. Only a Marty party — that is, best picture and best director wins -- on Sunday will allow him to top that.

But the filmmaker has still had a year to remember — according to Heat Meter, 2011 is already better for Scorsese than 1990, when “Goodfellas” came out, and his landmark year of 1976, when “Taxi Driver” was released.

2006 “The Departed”: 275
2011* “Hugo”: 146
1976 “Taxi Driver”: 136
1990 “Goodfellas”: 130

*Not counting this year's Oscars

[For the Record, 8:29 a.m., Feb. 23: An earlier version of this post stated that Woody Allen won an Oscar in 1978 for best actor. He was nominated for the award but did not win.]

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--Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." Credit: The Weinstein Company


DGA to Fincher: Sorry about last year, can we make it up to you?

January 9, 2012 |  3:47 pm

Rooney Mara stars in David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Now let us just say from the outset that it is possible that Directors Guild of America voters simply liked David Fincher's mesmerizing way with bleakness in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" more than Steven Spielberg's shout-outs to John Ford in "War Horse." Certainly, members didn't share Fincher's sentiments that "Dragon Tattoo" might be just a tad too dark for awards consideration.

But there has to be something more to today's DGA Awards nominations that put Fincher in alongside Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), doesn't there? DGA voters clearly dig Fincher, handing him his third nomination in four years. Of course, they haven't liked him enough to actually give him the award in this category, even last year when most had Fincher winning for "The Social Network." Could this year's nomination be viewed as an attempt to put that whole giving it to Tom Hooper thing behind them? Or could it merely be another signal of a changing of the guard? (Spielberg hasn't been nominated since 2005's "Munich" -- not that he has given voters much reason or occasion to look his way.)

Fincher won't win this year, either. But, taken with the Producers Guild nomination for "Tattoo," it is possible that both he and the movie will now show up among the Oscar anointed. More often than not, four of the five DGA nominees go on to receive Oscar nods. Figuring that Scorsese, Hazanavicius and Payne are locks and that Allen seems increasingly likely to receive his first director's nomination since "Bullets Over Broadway," the question now is: Will the DGA slate sweep in clean with the motion picture academy, as has happened twice in the past decade? Or can Spielberg slip in, aided by the academy's older sentimentalists?

A third option and, admittedly, one that with today's news and previous snubs from the PGA, Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild seems something of a pipe dream, is that academy voters will go the auteur route and nominate Terrence Malick. "The Tree of Life" has its hard-core disciples, but they are vastly outnumbered by those who hit the eject button once the dinosaurs showed up. Oscar prognosticators have long assumed that "Tree" had enough bedrock support to win nominations for picture (provided devotees slotted it No. 1 or No. 2 on their ballots), director and cinematography. Now only director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki seems a safe bet.

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 -- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Rooney Mara stars in David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Merrick Morton / Columbia TrStar


2011: Seven film stories we never saw coming

December 31, 2011 |  1:00 pm

Vontrier

This post has been corrected. See note below for details.

The film world had its share of predictable turns this last year. "Harry Potter" went out with a bang. "Twilight" and "Transformers" earned a gazillion dollars (more). And 3-D continued to have us seeing double, the novelty now officially worn off.

But the last 12 months were also full of unexpected twists -- from a movie that had women saying things we hadn’t heard on-screen before, to a filmmaker who again was saying things he shouldn’t have been saying (but sort of had before). Here are seven of the year’s most notable surprises. (Click on the related links below for a full spin down memory lane.)

Always a Bridesmaid. Sure,  there was a sense before the year started that, when it came to potty-mouthed humor, it just might be the girls' turn. But few could have predicted that  an R-rated film featuring a lack of A-listers and a heavy marital theme would become a cultural phenomenon. Yet with “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig, an actress known mainly for character parts, and Paul Feig, an actor and director known mainly for television, teamed up and, with an assist from Judd Apatow, created a monster smash. The film was the highest grossing original comedy of the year ($169 million) and launched the career of the previously little-known Melissa McCarthy. Maybe more important, It touched off a Hollywood gold rush and stirred a feminist debate. It even...put Wilson Phillips back on the map.

Ratner revival. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences made some unusual choices in 2011 -- a lifetime achievement award for Oprah, a rule-change allowing a variable number of best-picture nominees. But even the most adventurous pundit couldn’t have predicted this summer surprise: Brett Ratner, known for popcorn movies like "Rush Hour," would be producing this year's Oscars telecast. And he'd be bringing along Eddie Murphy, who rarely made public appearances -- let alone at one of the most watched television broadcasts of the year -- to host.

Ratner retreats. Oops. After all the hype about the kind of sensibility Ratner would bring to the Oscars, it turns out we wouldn't have to worry about it much. This fall, Ratner made lewd and offensive comments on Howard Stern’s radio show, causing embarrassment for the Academy and a quick resignation from the foot-in-mouth producer. Murphy, who had been persuaded by Ratner to take the gig,  quickly followed suit. But the host’s replacement was even more of a stunner: Billy Crystal, who had hosted his first Oscars more than two decades before, would be returning, making the 63-year-old the oldest solo host since the mid-'70's.

Daybreak for Woody. For a number of years past, Woody Allen was like baseball, or Ron Paul. Every season, through thick and thin, he was there, doing his thing, with few believing he could be much of a factor. Yet that all changed this spring when Allen released his (depending on how you count) 46th directorial feature, a whimsical piece called "Midnight in Paris.” First the movie found an art-house audience. Then it became a crossover hit. Then it became a phenomenon. The story of a curmudgeonly writer transported to period Paris became the prolific director's most successful film ever. It even got people to see Owen Wilson as a star again.

Craig cratering. When he was cast in the summer of 2010 as the hero of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," Daniel Craig could do no wrong. He had come off several films in which he enchanted audiences as James Bond and had even thrown in a well-reviewed Broadway turn. And 2011 was looking even brighter: Craig had a role not only in "Dragon" but would be bringing out the eagerly awaited Jon Favreau-directed action-adventure "Cowboys and Aliens." But Mr. 007 soon found that the villains were getting the better of him. First, James Bond was caught in movie limbo. It eventually got out, but the disappointments were only starting. "Cowboys and Aliens" was a summer wet blanket. ”Dragon Tattoo" has struggled in its first weeks of release. And Craig launched a bomb with the horror title "Dream House," which was such a mess that  its director tried to have his name taken off it. It was all enough to make an actor feel like someone had thrown a martini in his face.

Kings crowned. Studios have pulled out old movies and dressed them up in new clothes before. But few could have predicted what would happen with a new 3-D edition of “The Lion King." When Disney decided to re-release the animated classic, it seemed like a nice but quaint idea. After the movie came out atop the box office one September weekend, though, it seemed like the company might have something more on its hands. Soon it won another weekend, beating new movies from Brad Pitt and Taylor Lautner. As the weeks piled up, the audiences kept coming.  The film wound up grossing nearly $100 million -- not bad for any movie, let alone one that was 17 years old.

That melancholy feeling. Lars von Trier had made plenty of ill-advised comments before. But no one in or outside a Cannes news conference room could have foreseen what would happen on the morning of May 18. After answering some innocuous questions about his new movie, "Melancholia," Von Trier took out a shovel and began digging. "I understand Hitler. I sympathize with him a bit. ... I'm a Nazi," he said as his star Kirsten Dunst looked on in horror. Things were  compounded when Von Trier showed only occasional remorse after the fact. A round of interviews with Dunst co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg were canceled as she hurried out of town, and the festival took the unusual step of declaring Von Trier persona non grata. In perhaps an even bigger surprise, the famously gabby Von Trier announced several months later that he was swearing off news conferences.

[For the record, 1:15 p.m., Jan. 3: An earlier version of this post identified the star of "Melancholia" as Reese Witherspoon. Kirsten Dunst stars in the film.]

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24 Frames: Full 'Midnight in Paris' coverage

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Lars von Trier at the Cannes Film Festival. Credit: Getty Images


Golden Globes: Woody Allen's producer sister on 'Midnight in Paris'

December 15, 2011 | 12:05 pm

Midnight in Paris
 
If she sounded a little more neurotic and a lot less feminine over the phone, Letty Aronson might be able to pass in a pinch for her more famous sibling, Woody Allen. She's just as sharp, funny and, well, New Yawker-ish as her brother, who picked up two Golden Globe nominations Thursday, for best director and best screenwriter of a motion picture, for his comic drama, "Midnight in Paris." The movie also was nominated in the category of best motion picture comedy or musical, and its star Owen Wilson received a nomination for best actor in a comedy or musical. Here's what Aronson, whom Allen has called "a first-rate producer" of his movies, told 24 Frames' Reed Johnson on Allen's, and her own, behalf.

PHOTOS: Golden Globe top nominees

"Midnight In Paris," in which a writer time-travels to 1930s Paris, has been running since this summer. Why do you think it caught on?

I think people identify with the fantasy of some other time and some other place being so much better than their own lives. And I think it doesn't hurt that it's so beautiful in Paris.

Your brother's career seems to have been re-energized in recent years by getting out of Manhattan now and then and shooting in London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome.

I guess when you're in a foreign place you're forced to look at things a little differently. And he loves all these places.

Which does he generally like more, writing or directing?

I would guess he enjoys the writing more than the directing, but he would never not direct his films. I would guess the writing is more pleasurable so he can stay home and write in his bed.

Seriously, he writes in bed?

Continue reading »

SAG Awards: 'Midnight in Paris' nom 'validates Woody Allen'

December 14, 2011 |  8:08 am

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” has been a film of “many great mornings,” says Sony Pictures Classics Co-president Michael Barker.  And today is no exception: Allen’s highest grossing film to date received a SAG Award nomination for performance by a cast in a motion picture.

“We’re very happy this morning. We were hoping this would happen,” Barker said, while on a train into New York City from his home in Connecticut. “Woody Allen, over the years, has been known for the incredible ensembles he’s directed, from picture to picture. And in this one, there were so many characters fully realized. We’re just really happy for him and the cast.”

"Midnight in Paris" stars Owen Wilson as a successful Hollywood screenwriter who visits Paris with his fiancée and finds himself transported through time to the ‘20s, where he encounters various cultural luminaries of the period. Barker said that today’s acknowledgment for the film is, in a way, validation for the director, who’s known for working with ensemble casts.

Photos: SAG Awards top nominees

“It just validates Woody Allen –- here he is, he’s at the peak of his form after all this time,” Barker said. “It also validates how actors adore working with him and always want to work with him.”

Barker hadn’t yet connected with Allen on this “very happy morning,” but he’s sure that the director is particularly pleased with the SAG nom, as it’s a peer-to-peer award.  “It always pleases him and he’s really gratified. But the fact that other actors are acknowledging this cast and Woody Allen’s continued ability over a long period of time -- not only to show respect to his actors, but to pull off these movies –- it just means a lot that it comes from the actors’ peers.”

"Midnight In Paris" opened on May 20 and it’s playing still in theaters, said Barker –- which signals that the film “has real staying power with the public,” he said. “And acknowledgments like this one [the SAG nomination] continue to give the movie a [great] profile.”

--Deborah Vankin

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Photo: Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in the Woody Allen film "Midnight in Paris." Credit: Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics


Young Hollywood: Armie Hammer on working with Clint Eastwood

November 10, 2011 |  1:25 pm

Evan Rachel Wood talks about working with Woody Allen at the LA Times Young Hollywood roundtable

When Evan Rachel Wood showed up to her first day on the set of "Whatever Works," she wasn't sure if she'd be out of a job in a few hours.

After all, she had yet to meet director Woody Allen -- he cast her simply because he felt she was right for the part in his 2009 film. And she'd heard stories about the legendary filmmaker quickly firing actors when he realized they weren't right for certain parts.

"People will show up and do the scene and he'll be like, 'You know what, this isn't right.' And he'll just recast. So the first day I was, like, so, so scared," the actress admitted on Friday at the Los Angeles Times' Young Hollywood roundtable, which also included Armie Hammer, Kirsten Dunst and Anton Yelchin.

Hammer also admitted being terrified before working with a different iconic director -- Clint Eastwood. The actor began work on Eastwood's "J. Edgar" immediately after wrapping "The Social Network" with David Fincher and said the two filmmakers employ completely different styles of directing.

"With Fincher, he would spend 20 minutes making sure that the angle of your head was right when you shot a scene," Hammer said. "But with Clint, you walk into a room and he goes, 'OK, so put it on its feet.' ...' And you're like, 'Oh, so it's up to me? Uh, OK.' "

For more on how the young stars approached working with A-list directors, watch the clip below. Check back with 24 Frames this week as we continue to post short videos with additional highlights from the conversation.

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-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Evan Rachel Wood and Henry Cavill are directed by Woody Allen, right, in "Whatever Works." Credit: Jessica Miglio / Sony Pictures Classics


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