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PRESENTS

NOVEMBER 14, 2018 OSCAR PREVIEW

BL AC K PA N T H E R

DEADLINE.COM/AWARDSLINE

How the power behind Marvel’s woke superhero hit reverberated far beyond the screen

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MI C HEL L E YEOH Ringing in industry change with Crazy Rich Asians

THOMA SIN MC K EN Z IE On her star-making turn in Leave No Trace

DIA L OGUE: AC TORS Rami Malek John C. Reilly Hugh Jackman Richard E. Grant Lucas Hedges

11/9/18 10:01 AM


F O R

Y O U R

G O L D E N

G L O B E® C O N S I D E R A T I O N

“PAUL

GIAMATTI IS ONE OF THE MOST DEPENDABLE ACTORS WORKING TODAY. Making it look so easy at every turn, we almost take him for granted when watching any of his performances.” Awards Circuit

“PAUL

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GIAMATTI CAN DO NO WRONG.” The Playlist

11/7/18 9:03 PM


4-19

FIRST TAKE Michelle Yeoh rings in the change with Crazy Rich Asians Art of Craft: A look behind Suspiria’s rotating mirrors Fresh Face: Thomasin McKenzie makes her impressive debut

20

COVER STORY Black Panther is more than a movie, it’s a cultural moment. Mike Fleming meets its director and cast

30

THE DIALOGUE: ACTORS Rami Malek John C. Reilly Hugh Jackman Richard E. Grant Lucas Hedges

40

FLASH MOB Deadline presents: The Contenders LA; AwardsLine Screening Series; The Contenders London

ON THE COVER Lupita Nyong’o, Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan photographed for Deadline by Shayan Asgharnia ON THIS PAGE Rami Malek photographed for Deadline by Michael Buckner

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11/9/18 9:26 AM


YOU LOVED A LOT OF FILMS THIS YEAR, BUT ONLY ONE FILM LOVED YOU BACK. “

++++

++++

“A balm for our current climate of intolerance and hatred. This radiant documentary ensures that the seedlings of love Fred Rogers planted live on.”

Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

Stephanie Zacharek, TIME

Walter Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

“Morgan Neville’s masterpiece. If ever the time was right for Mister Rogers, it has to be now.” Pete Hammond, Deadline

“Unapologetically admiring and intellectually rigorous. This film is a gift.” A.O. Scott, The New York Times

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE IDA DOCUMENTARY AWARD

GOTHAM INDEPENDENT

5 CINEMA EYE HONORS

NOMINEE

FILM AWARD NOMINEE

NOMINATIONS INCLUDING

BEST DOCUMENTARY

BEST DOCUMENTARY

WINNER

BEST DOCUMENTARY

WINNER

BOULDER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL People’s Choice Award Feature Length Film

SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Golden Space Needle Award Best Documentary

WINNER

WINNER

LAOFCS SUMMER MOVIE AWARDS Best Summer Documentary

HEARTLAND FILM Truly Moving Picture Award

A film by Morgan Neville © 2018 TREMOLO PRODUCTIONS, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ARTWORK © 2018 FOCUS FEATURES LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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For more on this film, go to www.FocusFeaturesGuilds2018.com

11/8/18 2:54 PM


Suspiria’s World of Witches

p. 12

| Breakout Thomasin McKenzie

p. 14

| The Hot Docs

p. 18

Lady of the Rings R IN G: T H E E L EA N O R, 3 3 .9 9 CA RATS N AT URA L CO LO M BI A N E ME RA L D/COU RT ESY E LY & CO. FANCY DIAM ONDS , BE VE RLY HI L LS

As the matriarch of the $235m-grossing Crazy Rich Asians, Michelle Yeoh reflects on long overdue Academy opportunities, doing her own stunts and the emerald ring that stole the show BY ANTONIA BLYTH

4

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PHOTOGRAPH BY

Michael Buckner

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EMERALD QUEEN Michelle Yeoh stars as matriarch Eleanor Young in the Warner Bros. hit.

IN THE MIDST OF A PACKED SCHEDULE in the run-up to Oscar voting, Michelle Yeoh is sipping two types of super-healthy juice at the Beverly Hills restaurant where we meet—green and lemon. After all, she has to keep up her strength, given the high stakes this season.

nom, Merle Oberon for The Dark Angel in 1935.

But despite seriously tough odds, Yeoh has crafted a stellar career, in

Yeoh is also dismayed by the

films like Memoirs of a Geisha, the

lack of Asian films making the leap

Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies,

from the foreign language category

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and

to Best Picture. “You make all the

Star Trek: Discovery. And all this,

excuses, like, ‘Oh OK, it’s because

on the heels of an unfortunately

they only want American movies,’”

thwarted career as a ballet dancer.

she says. “But then you look at Life is

Born in Malaysia, Yeoh went to

Beautiful. It’s not an American movie

school in England, and studied at the

Asian actors have had precious

she admits to being on the edge of

and it was nominated [for Best Pic-

prestigious Royal Academy of Dance

little Academy-centric opportuni-

her seat opening weekend, with so

ture], and won for Best Actor. Why is

in London. While she eventually quit

ties—or just onscreen opportunities—

much resting on the reception for

that different? It’s like when I looked

dancing due to a back injury, she

and Yeoh’s latest project, the box

this mainstream studio film with

back at Zhang Yimou’s film Raise

says it was never going to happen

office-busting Warner Bros. hit Crazy

an all-Asian cast. “The fear of it not

the Red Lantern, it was nominated

anyway. “You can’t imagine a Chi-

Rich Asians, looks like it could upend

having had that kind of success was

for Best Foreign Language Film, but

nese girl being in the corps de ballet

the status quo at last. If Yeoh gets a

very, very prevalent. It would have set

why was it not even a consideration?

back then, doing Swan Lake. It just

supporting actress nod this year, she

us back another 25 years,” she says,

I mean for Crouching Tiger, yes we

wouldn’t happen. That’s the reality.”

will be only the sixth actress of Asian

referring to the 25 years it’s been

were considered, but somehow… I

descent ever to be nominated in the

since that other studio all-Asian cast

didn’t quite understand.”

history of the Academy.

film, The Joy Luck Club.

In Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of

The industry has certainly not

When, at 21, her mother entered her in the beauty pageant for Miss

Now though, she’s hopeful that

Malaysia, Yeoh was unenthused,

change is here. “Perhaps it really took

since her lifelong shyness made it

Kevin Kwan’s bestselling book about

been generous in the past. Despite

this movement,” she says. “This new

seem pretty unappealing. But still, she

the internal struggles of an afflu-

more than proving her acting chops

generation stood up and said, ‘OK,

won, then was eventually put forward

ent—or ‘crazy rich’—Singaporean

in the Best Picture-nominated

that’s enough. Let’s not take this sit-

to shoot a commercial alongside

family, Yeoh shines as the prickly-

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

ting down anymore.’ I’m glad when I

Jackie Chan—her big break.

but-complex matriarch Eleanor

back in 2000, Yeoh didn’t get a

look at the young generation. They’re

Young, who can’t accept her son’s

nom. In fact, only one actor of Asian

so vocal and they’re not afraid. I’m

issue today, Yeoh says. “If I know

choice to marry the ‘ABC’ (Amer-

descent has been nominated in this

so proud of them. I’m so glad I get

I’m getting an award, for the next

ican-born Chinese) Rachel Chu

entire decade—Dev Patel for Lion

to see it in my lifetime, and I’m very

two nights I won’t be able to sleep,

(Constance Wu).

in 2017—and there’s been just one

happy that I’ve been part of that

because I know I’ll have to go on

female Asian winner ever—Miyoshi

movement as well, because we have

stage to say something.” And shoot-

Umeki in 1957—and one lead actress

been fighting to get to today.”

ing movies is tough in the same way.

“It is very, very empowering,” Yeoh says of the film’s success, but

6

That shyness is actually still an

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WHISPERS Oliver (Nico Santos) feeds intel to an incredulous Eleanor.

“There’s a lot of people looking at you,

her back her real name. In Hong Kong,

bought the hotel in the prologue. In

Street, Hollywood, and the World, by

and the lines sort of go. It takes a lot

while very young, she’d been pushed

my mind, Eleanor Young was very

Wall Street Journal reporters Tom

of focus and concentration.”

by producers into changing Yeoh

formidable, but at the same time,

Wright and Bradley Hope. The true-

to the supposedly more Western-

she was very elegantly put together.

life story follows Jho Low, the alleged

cial stint, Yeoh made her way into

digestible ‘Khan’. But it was producer

She was not ostentatious or loud. If

mastermind behind Malaysia’s 1MDB

Hong Kong action movies, where she

Barbara Broccoli, grande dame of

she wore a ring it would be simple. It

money-laundering scandal.

threw herself into doing all her own

Bond films, who put an end to all that.

wouldn’t be a 10 carat white diamond.

stunts, some of which sound fairly

“Bless her, Barbara Broccoli, I love

So I took a look at the rings and

seems rather like the same instinct

hair-raising—running along the top of

her to bits,” Yeoh says. “She was like,

thought, ‘No way would Eleanor Young

that made her decide to run along the

a moving train for example—but Yeoh

‘What the fuck? Michelle Khan? Just

wear these.’”

roof of a moving train rather than play

actually loved the power and equality

go with your fucking name!’”

After that Jackie Chan commer-

that came from it. “I trained very hard

These days, Yeoh brings with her

As a solution, Yeoh simply brought

The pull of producing for Yeoh

the helpless damsel. “As an actor you

in the perfect ring from her personal

sit there and wait for things to come

to do that,” she says. “And I took great

all the expertise and quiet confi-

collection. “It’s a flawless emerald,”

to you,” she explains. “As a producer

pride, because it was such a man’s

dence of her storied career. Instinct

she says, “and the green color has the

you are more proactive. You go out

world. It was all men. The girls were

and experience told her the ring the

connotation of life, continuity, love—

and find that stuff, and you choose

relegated to the damsel in distress,

production had designed for Eleanor

it’s very special to Asians. They were

the creative people you work with.”

always needing to be rescued and

Young in Crazy Rich Asians—which is

more worried than I was. They said,

helped out, running around going,

at the center of the entire plot—was

‘What about insurance?’ But it was

the book—Leonardo DiCaprio and

‘Save me! Save me!’ And I felt at one

all wrong for the character. “I mean

my privilege to be able to show it, and

Jamie Foxx, to name just two—be

point I was invincible.”

there’s a lot going on there about how

it really made the difference.”

approached for cameos? “I would

Then, when Yeoh got the job on

Will the celebrities mentioned in

she got the ring in the first place, and

Now, while Yeoh is hoping that

Tomorrow Never Dies, she was sorely

then, when—spoiler alert—at the end,

equality for the Asian cast will feature

disappointed to be told doing her own

you see the ring again, you understand

this awards season and beyond, she’s

stunts wasn’t an option. “The direc-

totally how she’s accepted Rachel,”

not sitting back waiting for recogni-

fitting that Yeoh should tell this story of

tor, Roger Spottiswoode, said, ‘You

Yeoh explains.

tion. Instead, she’s steaming ahead

Malaysia, and along with the smash hit

are not here because you can do the

she says, “so we’ll see.” Of course it’s certainly more than

with her new producing job. Having

Crazy Rich Asians, hopefully this signals

physical action. If you can’t act, I can’t

tray of rings, fortunately Jon Chu was

signed a deal with Ivanhoe Pictures—

that much-needed change is on the

cast you opposite Pierce [Brosnan].

there, and I went, ‘Are you kidding?’

who financed and co-produced Crazy

way. “It’s my home country. We’re not

Your acting is what got you here.’”

First of all, from the book, Kevin

Rich Asians—she’s working on the

afraid to tell the story for what it is,”

While the Bond movie shifted

Kwan already had told us right away

adaptation of the book Billion Dollar

she says, “and I think we should have

Yeoh’s career up a gear, it also gave

how classy this woman is, when she

Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall

the privilege of doing that.” ★

8

“So when they brought out this

love that they would play themselves,”

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A MASTERPIECE .

OF LOVE OVERCOMING HATE ”

B E ST D I R E CTO R B E ST S C R E E N P LAY PAUL GREENGRASS

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CHARTED TERRITORY

Gold Derby’s Oscar Odds At press time, here is how Gold Derby’s experts ranked the Oscar chances in the Lead and Supporting Actor races. Get up-to-date rankings and make your own predictions at GoldDerby.com ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Redford’s Last Stand

The Old Man & the Gun DP Joe Anderson crafts imagery with a twinkle in the eye A TRIBUTE TO TWO-TIME OSCAR WINNER ROBERT REDFORD, David Lowery’s The Old Man & the Gun called for playful charisma matching that of its star—and artful deception mirroring that of its subject. Based on the true story of septuagenarian bank robber Forrest Tucker, the lighthearted ’70s swansong was shot on period-perfect Super 16mm by cinematographer Joe Anderson, who pursued every opportunity to give his images life, with whip pans and perfectly manicured montages. “We talked early on about the camera wanting to be fun, and to be light, and to not take itself too seriously,” the DP says. “We wanted to let the camera have the twinkle in the eye that Redford does as well.” In part, this meant embracing rough edges—those minor aesthetic imperfections that came out of production that had “a lot of personality”. Best illustrating Lowery’s visual panache and penchant for mischief is a montage toward film’s end, bringing Tucker’s many successful prison breaks to life. Generally depicting the character from the rear—to cultivate an imagination of a younger Forrest—there is one notable shot of Redford’s face included here. This is an image from The Chase, a 1966 prison break pic in which the actor starred. And the cinematic sleight of hand doesn’t end there; also briefly present in the montage is a stand-in cutting prison bars, holding a blown-up, cutout photo of Redford’s face over his own. “So far, nobody has seemed to notice that this is what we did,” Anderson notes. —Matt Grobar

SANS HAIRSPRAY

The Favourite makeup and hair designer captures the compelling ugliness of 17th century life THE FIRST PERIOD film from Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite required its artisans to cultivate their historical playbooks,

10

and then throw them out. Centered on the court of Queen Anne, the production was a welcome challenge and a steep learning curve for makeup and hair

designer Nadia Stacey, who overcame budget limitations to provide an expansive array of wigs and prosthetics. At the director’s request, Stacey did away with the perfectly manicured looks of the typical period drama in favor of grit and sweat, reflecting the true conditions of 17th Century life. Denied the use of her usual bag

of tricks, the designer found one of her biggest sticking points in the fontange, a decorative hairstyle popular among women of the era. “[Lanthimos] absolutely banned hairspray, and I was told off a couple of times about sneaking it on the set,” she recalls. “After that, you have to absolutely just give in.” —Matt Grobar

ODDS

1

Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born

2

Viggo Mortensen Green Book

9/2

3

Rami Malek Bohemian Rhapsody

6/1

4

Christian Bale Vice

6/1

5

Ryan Gosling First Man

11/1

6

Willem Dafoe At Eternity’s Gate

15/1

7

Robert Redford The Old Man & the Gun

20/1

8

Ethan Hawke First Reformed

20/1

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

39/10

ODDS

1

Mahershala Ali Green Book

18/5

2

Timothée Chalamet Beautiful Boy

9/2

3

Sam Elliott A Star Is Born

5/1

4

Richard E. Grant Can You Ever Forgive Me?

5/1

5

Sam Rockwell Vice

14/1

6

Michael B. Jordan Black Panther

20/1

7

Adam Driver BlacKkKlansman

22/1

8

Daniel Kaluuya Widows

44/1

PERIOD PERFECT Joe Alwyn stars as Masham in The Favourite.

D E A D L I N E .C O M / AWA R D S L I N E

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F O R Y O U R C O N S I D E R AT I O N

BEST PICTURE BEST DIRECTOR

JOEL COEN & ETHAN COEN

+++++ ALTOGETHER INSPIRED, “

WITH THE SIGNATURE ECCENTRIC, HUMOR ,, AND SOUR- SWEET TANG OF THE COENS BEST WORK. THE

WINNER

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL BEST SCREENPLAY

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TELEGRAPH

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY

JOEL COEN & ETHAN COEN

11/7/18 9:02 PM


The Art of Craft Exploring Suspiria’s Room of Compartments with production designer Inbal Weinberg

Numbered Dissecting Suspiria

BY MATT GROBAR • ILLUSTRATION BY MONICA SALLUSTIO

“THE ROOM OF COMPARTMENTS WAS KIND OF LIKE A CREEPY DORMITORY. This web of strings that we had stretched from different areas in the room was to show that they’re trapped, but that you don’t really understand in what way. It’s oppressive, but it’s not too obvious why they’re not getting out.” —Inbal Weinberg

5 dance sequences brought to life over 6 weeks by choreographer Damien Jalet The Grand Hotel Campo dei Fiori in Italy, the main location, was built in 1910

The set was conceived as part of the “Mutterhaus”—the dark world hidden within the Markos Dance Company. Here, the witches keep their victims in limbo as they wait to be sacrificed. Visual references included 1800s Puritan boarding schools, ‘coffin’ beds made for the homeless in Victorian England, Norman Bates’ mother’s bed in Psycho, and 12

illustrations by surrealist artist Alfred Kubin. One of Kubin’s drawings depicted a meager figure hunched inside a triangle. Luca Guadagnino loved it, so Weinberg expanded the idea into a pentagram window, “which we built into the pre-existing nooks on location.” The space was intended to feel like a “menacing cocoon” and so the art

department researched materials like wax, honey and wire, but ended up embracing “the simplicity of threadwork”, like that used by contemporary artist Chiharu Shiota.

and closed its doors in 1968 The production recreated 197ft of the Berlin Wall for the film There are 2000 books in Dr. Klemperer’s library

Guadagnino fell for the threadwork, and it ultimately covered the entire room. “The final result was an eerie and mesmerizing cobweblike space; part horror, part art installation,” says Weinberg.

D E A D L I N E .C O M / AWA R D S L I N E

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FOR YOUR CONSERVATION AND CONSIDERATION BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

★★★★ CAPTIVATING! “

EMOTIONAL AND EFFECTIVE.” – San Francisco Chronicle

POWERFUL!

PALPABLE AND

UNPREDICTABLE! IT HAS A MESSAGE TO IMPART BUT ITS NEVER PREACHY OR PEDANTIC,

AND ACCOMPLISHES ITS GOALS WITH HEARTFELT ENTHUSIASM. THIS FILM WILL BREAK YOUR HEART, WHAT MORE COULD ONE ASK OF A DOCUMENTARY?” MEND IT AND HAVE YOU QUESTIONING YOUR NEXT TRIP TO THE ZOO.” – Leonard Maltin

– Entertainment Weekly

EMOTIONALLY CHARGED.” “HARROWING BUT ULTIMATELY UPLIFTING.” – The Sydney Morning Herald

– The New York Times

DEEPLY AFFECTING.

GUARANTEED TO NOT LEAVE A DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE.

TWO TRUNKS UP!

“T

H E T Y P E O F F I L M T H A T ’S

IMPOSSIBLE TO COME AWAY ” FROM UNCHANGED. – Los Angeles Times

– The Hollywood Reporter

TM

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DIRECTED BY ASHLEY BELL

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11/7/18 9:00 PM


Fresh Face BY ANTONIA BLYTH

WHO Thomasin McKenzie Age: 18 Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand

WHY

WHEN & WHERE

Comparisons to Granik’s other wilderness drama breakout star, Jennifer

You’ll see McKenzie next in Taika

McKenzie is Tom, daughter to Ben

Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, may be ham-fisted since McKenzie’s style

Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, in which

Foster’s PTSD-affected Will. Unable

is all her own, but based simply on talent level, they’re much deserved.

she plays the Anne Frank-like

to cope with society, Will has

McKenzie goes toe-to-toe with the accomplished Foster and more than

character Elsa. “Taika wanted

carved out a subsistence off-grid

holds her own. Bringing her own bonding techniques to set—a Maori

me to watch Heathers and Mean

life with Tom in wooded parkland

head-touching ritual, and an extended hugging method borrowed from

Girls as my research because my

outside of Portland, Oregon, until

her actress mother Miranda Harcourt—the two actors spent much

character was actually a bully at

authorities intervene and threaten

of rehearsal in companionable silence. “It was easier for me because

school, and he didn’t just want her

their isolated idyll. Those survival

I was doing an American accent,” McKenzie laughs. “But also I think

to be a victim.”

skills are also the real deal. “We

it really let the emotions come through, and didn’t force people into

learned about what things you can find in the forest to eat,” McKenzie

understanding things.” The result is an intense impression of the quiet strength of their

Then there’s David Michôd’s Shakespearian-style The King with Timothée Chalamet, Ben

says. “How to camouflage yourself,

father-daughter symbiosis, and of Tom’s steely will. “Tom had to be

Mendelsohn and Robert Pattinson,

how to listen to birds’ language,

quite determined and courageous to leave her dad and to go on her own

and The True History of the Kelly

how to build shelters, and how to

journey,” McKenzie says, “and to accept that her dad wasn’t well. And I

Gang with Nicholas Hoult, Charlie

make fires.”

think I, too, in some situations, am determined.”

Hunnam and Russell Crowe. ★

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RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK

WHAT In Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace,

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Oscar Dreaming With the Fall Festivals over, the picture of this year’s Oscar race is clearer BY PETE HAMMOND

AFI FEST CLOSES THIS WEEK, marking the end of the Fall Festival season that began with a bang with the August/September triple-feature that is Venice, Telluride and Toronto, at which the vast majority of major Oscar hopefuls were unveiled. Which is not to say there weren’t a few films from the first eight months of the year still in the mix; like the box office and critical smashes Black Panther and A Quiet Place, or at Cannes, where Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman looked built to last. But let’s face it: the fall is when studios and distributors strut the stuff they hope will go all the way to the Dolby Theatre on February 24th. And while there are a handful of films waiting to be seen—Mary Poppins Returns, Vice and The Mule chief among them—the AFI world premieres of Mary Queen of Scots, On the Basis of Sex and Bird Box basically completed the line-up of fall contenders. It all started in Venice, with several home runs including

BLACKKKLANSMAN

20th Century Fox

of Steve Carell and Timothée Chal-

In what could be a last hurrah, big Fox

amet, but Dan Fogelman’s Life Itself

chose Toronto to unveil two of their

was killed by TIFF critics and came

contenders, the YA adaptation The

and went quickly.

Hate U Give and Steve McQueen’s journey into genre with Widows. The

Annapurna Pictures

latter sparked Oscar talk for star Viola

Jacques Audiard won Best Director

Davis and supporting player Elizabeth

in Venice for Western The Sisters

Debicki, while the former was a big

Brothers, his English language debut,

critical favorite out of TIFF and con-

but it hasn’t generated much Oscar

tinues to gain traction enough for Fox

buzz since opening. Nicole Kidman’s

to keep believing.

dynamite and risky performance as an LA cop in Destroyer electrified

A24

Telluride and Toronto, but award

This consistent Oscar player pre-

prospects could be held back by a

miered Jonah Hill’s terrific writing

more mixed reception for the movie

and directing feature debut with

itself. The best fest reception went

Mid90s, about a bunch of kids and

to Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to his

their skateboards in West LA. It was

Oscar-winning Moonlight, an adap-

as fresh, exuberant and entertain-

tation of James Baldwin’s If Beale

ing as anything on the fest circuit

Street Could Talk. It was the first

this year, with a cast you won’t soon

runner-up for the People’s Choice

forget. Hill proves himself as impres-

Award in Toronto. That bodes well

sive a talent behind the camera as

for its future.

he is in front.

Aviron Pictures Amazon Studios

This new company, fronted by

This streamer started early at

distribution veteran David Diner-

festivals, with Cannes sensation

stein, was a last-minute entry into

Cold War, which also won serious ap-

the Fall Fest game with Matthew

plause at both Telluride and Toronto.

Heineman’s A Private War, the story

the other big Best Picture hopeful, Peter Farrelly’s Green

It’s a sure bet to make the Best

of conflict correspondent Marie

Book, which took audiences and critics by storm and won the

Foreign Language list for Poland and

Colvin. It features an awards-worthy

coveted—and often Oscar-predictive—People’s Choice Award.

director Pawel Pawlikowski, and may

performance by Rosamund Pike,

track for its stunning cinematogra-

and impressive change of pace for

phy and the performance of lead

Jamie Dornan, and has been gaining

Joanna Kulig. At Toronto, Amazon

some awards heat for its timely

premiered two hopefuls. Beautiful

story of a determined journalist on

Boy drew buzz for the performances

the frontlines.

A Star Is Born and Roma—the latter winning director Alfonso Cuarón the Golden Lion. Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite kicked off its awards run there too, with a Silver Lion and the Best Actress prize for Olivia Colman. But Toronto debuted

So it’s these four films we can safely say are the most likely to find a spot on the Best Picture nominations list on January 22nd, and they can each thank their Fall Festival berths for boosting their chances and making them seem inevitable.

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THE OLD MAN & THE GUN

A QUIET PLACE

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Netflix

Sony Pictures Classics

This perennial awards magnet

Roma is the name of the game

As usual, they’re aiming for a big

saved their three biggies for the

for Netflix. Alfonso Cuarón’s very

presence in the Foreign Language

Fall Fests—as usual—and scored

personal journey to his childhood in

race, and they really scored with the

with each of them. Perhaps their

Mexico City in the 1970s played like

Venice and Toronto debut of Never

top title, Oscar-wise, is bound to

gangbusters in Telluride and was the

Look Away, the German entry from

be Yorgos Lanthimos’s dazzling

second runner-up for the Toronto

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

costume drama The Favourite, with

People’s Choice Award, in addition to

Michael Barker means to qualify it in

a trio of awards-worthy stars in

its Venice Golden Lion win. It’s clearly

other categories too, particularly for

Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and

the streamer’s first real shot at a Best

five-time Cinematography nominee

Emma Stone. But the big surprise

Picture Oscar nomination, and they

Caleb Deschanel’s sterling work

out of Telluride and TIFF was Can

are using this Fall Festival launch to go

here. SPC also brought to TIFF their

You Ever Forgive Me?, the true

for it in a big way. They also launched

Cannes Jury Prize winner, Lebanon’s

story of author Lee Israel, who

Paul Greengrass’s 22 July, the Coen

Capernaum, which should also be

found herself down on her luck

brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

formidable in the foreign category

and started forging letters from

and Sandra Bullock’s performance in

this year. As the London Film Fes-

dead celebrities in order to make

Bird Box at the Fall Festivals.

tival Closing Night film, their late December entry Stan & Ollie won

a buck. Melissa McCarthy has to be nominated for this turn, as

The Orchard

warm praise for stars John C. Reilly

does supporting actor Richard E.

One top exhibitor raved about Kim

and Steve Coogan.

Grant, and maybe the film itself.

Nguyen’s The Hummingbird Project at

CBS Films

By announcing The Old Man & the

Toronto this year. The Orchard nabbed

Universal Pictures

The overdue Willem Dafoe got a

Gun as his last acting gig, Robert

it, but it won’t release until next year.

If any major has reason to celebrate

big Oscar boost out of Venice by

Redford made himself an instant

That left their Foreign Language con-

their presence on the Fall Festival

taking Best Actor for his turn as

contender, but he is facing tough

tenders from Cannes—Birds of Passage

circuit this year, it’s Universal. Not

Vincent van Gogh in At Eternity’s

competition.

and El Angel—to keep making noise on

only did Damien Chazelle’s Neil

the Fall Festival circuit.

Armstrong moon landing epic First

STAN & OLLIE

Gate. Julian Schnabel’s film also played well at New York Film Festi-

IFC Films

val, and CBS will continue the push

While they bought a couple of

Roadside Attractions

Telluride and Toronto, they also

with that Venice recognition front

films out of the festivals, for release

They made a big slash on Toronto’s

took over Peter Farrelly’s fantastic

and center.

in 2019, IFC continued to push

first weekend with star Julia Roberts,

feel-good Green Book, starring Viggo

Man draw strong notices at Venice,

their awards contender Wildlife at

who launched their holiday release,

Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, from

Bleecker Street

Toronto, after earlier unveilings at

the stunner of an addiction drama

specialty unit Focus (it was actually

They started off the year with

Sundance and Cannes. They have

Ben is Back, with Lucas Hedges in the

produced by Participant Media, who

Sundance debuts for Colette, with

high hopes for a Best Actress bid by

title role. Coming to TIFF did the trick,

were also behind Roma). After a

Keira Knightley, and the Alzheimer’s

Carey Mulligan, who is excellent in a

and won the film very strong reviews

raucous TIFF premiere for the film,

drama What They Had, with Hilary

different, and highly dramatic, role.

and Oscar buzz for its stars. Now

which drew three standing ova-

they just have to keep it going after it

tions, it landed the People’s Choice

opens December 7 .

Award. The Fall Fests were a prime

Swank, Blythe Danner, Michael Shannon and Robert Forster. Both

Magnolia Pictures

returned to the Fall Festival circuit

Cannes Palme d’Or winner Shoplift-

and were well received, but the

ers, from Hirokazu Kore-eda, went

Sony Pictures

though First Man slowed subse-

company will have to spend to keep

to Telluride and Toronto for further

The major studio stumbled last

quently at the box office. Green

them alive Oscar-wise as high-

acclaim. The sensational film is Ja-

year with their Denzel Washington

Book opens next week, so time will

profile Fall pictures crowd them out

pan’s Best Foreign Language entry.

drama Roman J. Israel, Esq, which

tell on that one.

of theatres. Forster, in particular,

th

launchpad for the studio, even

they brought to Toronto before it was

Neon

ready. After heading back into the edit

Warner Bros.

After a roaring Toronto last year,

to shave off 12 minutes, Washington

Not to be outdone by their Valley

Focus Features

where they acquired the major

did land an Oscar nomination. This

neighbor, Warner Bros. sent their

Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, a

Oscar player that became I, Tonya,

year, they brought White Boy Rick with

big Oscar hope, A Star is Born, out

drama about controversial gay

they this year bought the wild

Matthew McConaughey, and Jason

with a strategy that included a

‘conversion’ therapy, featured

Brady Corbet/Sia music project

Reitman’s The Front Runner with

Venice world premiere and a Toronto

excellent performances from

Vox Lux out of Toronto and Venice.

Hugh Jackman to both Telluride and

North American premiere, and both

Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe and

With a swing-for-the-fences sup-

Toronto, with an eye toward Oscar.

(despite an unplanned intermis-

Nicole Kidman, and it stuck its flag

porting performance from Natalie

Performance-wise, both of these films

sion in Venice caused by a lightning

in the Oscar race at both Telluride

Portman as a school shooting sur-

are still on track, with McConaughey

strike) went through the roof. Like

and Toronto. Bringing up the rear

vivor who becomes a major rock

pushed in support and Jackman in

Green Book, it took a trio of standing

of the Fall Fests, Focus is behind

star, and a precedent after Allison

lead. They both excel, and the festival

ovations in Toronto and drew instant

AFI world premieres Mary Queen of

Janney’s supporting win last year,

play probably helped both lift their

Oscar speculation. Its subsequent

Scots and On the Basis of Sex, so

can lightning strike twice in a row

gravitas, even if White Boy Rick has

smash box office and top-of-the-

critical reaction will be key.

in the same category for Neon?

performed mildly at the box office.

charts soundtrack won’t hurt. ★

deserves attention.

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FAHRENHEIT 11/9

CRIME + PUNISHMENT

Doc Shock

Non-fiction is riding high at the box office, making this year’s Best Documentary race hard to predict BY MATTHEW CAREY WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

SHIRKERS

THE MOTION PICTURE ACADEMY did away with creating an Oscar category for ‘popular movie’ that would have allowed voters to select a Best Picture and a best box office hit. But in the documentary category there’s no need to choose between popular success and artistic merit: Some of this year’s top contenders offer both. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville’s film about cardiganclad children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers, has zoomed past the $22 million mark in ticket sales, making it far and away the most successful documentary of recent years. And it’s a frontrunner for the Oscar, having already earned nominations for the IDA Awards, the Gotham Independent Film Awards and the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, not to mention making DOC NYC’s exclusive shortlist. “It feels great,” says Neville of the critical and financial success. “Nobody believed that a Mister Rogers film would do what this film did, myself included. It so exceeded everybody’s expectations.” The same might be said of two other critical and commercial hits: RBG, the documentary

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by Julie Cohen and Betsy West that celebrates Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Three Identical Strangers, Tim Wardle’s film about the strange case of triplets separated as infants. RBG has made $14 million and Strangers is nipping at its heels, collecting $12.3 million so far. In documentary terms, those are blockbuster totals. But there’s a hitch for RBG and Strangers—they haven’t swept the early nominations, unlike Neville’s film. Both will compete for best documentary at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, but they missed out on nominations for the Gotham and IDA Awards. Still, the IDA’s executive director, Simon Kilmurry, believes the troika of Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, RBG and Three Identical Strangers will make the Academy’s shortlist of 15

THE SILENCE OF OTHERS

feature documentaries, to be announced in December. And he points to another hit documentary as a strong awards contender—Free Solo, the story of climber Alex Honnold’s quest to ascend Yosemite’s El Capitan rock wall without a rope. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin directed the movie, which has soloed atop the doc box office charts for several weeks. Prognostication has been hampered by a lack of thematic coherence to this year’s contenders. The previous two years, by contrast, were highlighted by multiple films about race, perhaps not surprising in an era noted for being post-Obama if decidedly not post-racial. That stretch yielded Oscar nominations for Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, Ava DuVernay’s 13th, and an Oscar victory for Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America, followed the next year by an Os-

DARK MONEY

car nomination for Strong Island, director Yance Ford’s examination of his brother’s raciallycharged killing. The mantle of addressing race in America has been picked up this year by RaMell Ross, whose film Hale County This Morning, This Evening provides a lyrical view of black lives in the South, defying stereotypical depictions ingrained in the American psyche. It was produced by Joslyn Barnes, producer of Strong Island. And while race may not prove the dominant theme in this year’s doc awards season, at least two other prominent vérité-style films speak to that subject matter: Crime + Punishment, directed by Stephen Maing and Charm City, from director Marilyn Ness. Maing’s documentary assails arrest quotas in the New York Police Department, an alleged

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FREE SOLO

RBG

policy that has made people of color the disproportionate target of officers under pressure to rack up ‘collars.’ “From the beginning I saw how this job was,” one officer declares in the film. “It’s not about helping people. It’s about numbers.” Charm City has won accolades for its ground-level view of economically-depressed areas of Baltimore, where a handful of local heroes are trying to create a better future for a city ripped by a sky-high murder rate. The documentary has been likened to HBO’s The Wire, the acclaimed series that painted a grim picture of Baltimore. “The Wire was saying the system will crush you and people matter less,” Ness says. “We felt like we were maybe The Wire 2.0 where we said the system is crushing, but the individual actions of people matter more.”

The Netflix slate must be factored into any awards forecast, both for the quality of films and the streamer’s willingness to lavish money on campaigns. Netflix claimed two of the five Oscar nomination slots last season, between Strong Island and eventual Academy Award-winner Icarus. This time around at least three of its films are gaining traction, including Quincy, the documentary about legendary music producer and composer Quincy Jones, codirected by his daughter, actress Rashida Jones, and Alan Hicks. At a recent screening hosted by the IDA, Jones told the audience her father did not interfere in the editorial process. “He said, ‘Just do your thing and we’ll see it when you guys are done,’ which is so great,” she recalled. “I think that’s the only way to get this kind of film, is to not have the subject hovering over you all the time, especially when it’s your dad.” Netflix fields another strong contender in Shirkers, a film from Singaporean native Sandi Tan which scored a directing award at Sundance. It’s the unsettling story of Tan and two friends who shot an ambitious feature film as teenagers, only to see her mentor abscond with the footage. “We had this horrible thing that happened to us, and yet you survive it,” Tan shares. “There’s a way of retrieving yourself from even the darkest places. That’s the message I wanted to give everybody.” This year Netflix is not the only streaming platform with a competitive slate. Hulu is behind Crime + Punishment and another major awards contender, Minding the Gap, directed by young filmmaker Bing Liu. It’s been shortlisted by DOC NYC and picked up nominations for the IDA Awards, Gotham Awards, and the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. The Rockford, Illinois native has also been selected to receive

the IDA’s prestigious Emerging Filmmaker Award, recognizing the craft of his coming-of-age documentary that reveals the emotional and physical abuse he and two friends endured growing up. “This might be his first film, but he’s very mature in his approach and how he goes about his business,” the IDA’s Kilmurry says of Liu. “Bing’s a delightful person. It’s really nice to see someone who’s just so nice do really well.” Liu, Tan and Hale County’s Ross are among the new voices in documentary who are threatening to crowd out some of the medium’s star filmmakers, like Michael Moore. His latest, Fahrenheit 11/9, has made over $6 million at the box office to date, with a full-throated attack on President Trump. “The threat [from Trump] is real. It gets worse every day,” Moore says. “He has no respect for the rule of law. He hates democracy.” Fahrenheit may be on the bubble for awards recognition precisely because it took direct aim at the impact of President Trump’s election. Documentaries that land a glancing blow on Trump, like RBG, or offer a critique by implication, as in Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, are so far resonating more powerfully with moviegoers and critics. Similarly, the politicallythemed Dark Money does not take on Trump per se, but has impressed many with its deep dive into the role of untraceable cash in American elections. Kimberly Reed’s film has scored nominations from the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards and the IDA Awards. “It’s thrilling,” Reed says. “The biggest thing for me is that these nominations can bring attention to the film and I think our film covers a really crucial issue that is coming to a head during these midterm elections.” In each of the last two years, Oscar voters have made room in their nominations for one inter-

national-focused documentary. If there’s a slot this year it could go to Of Fathers and Sons, a film that saw director Talal Derki risk his life to document a radical Islamist family in Syria. It won the top prize for international documentary at Sundance. Among other contenders with international scope, The Silence of Others, from directors Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo and executive producer Pedro Almodóvar, tells the story of a long search for justice by victims who suffered under Spain’s military dictator, General Francisco Franco. And On Her Shoulders has won praise for its sensitive portrayal of the way Nadia Murad became a powerful advocate for her people, Iraq’s Yazidi minority, who were targeted for genocide by ISIS. Murad has been named cowinner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, elevating the profile of the documentary. “She was nominated while we were in the edit of the film,” director Alexandria Bombach recalls. “It’s obviously very incredible and I’m very proud of her.” But documentaries with a domestic focus will undoubtedly gain the most laurels this awards season. One of them, Monrovia, Indiana, comes straight out of the heartland, revealing day-to-day life in a pocket of red state America. Frederick Wiseman, the 88 year-old honorary Oscar winner, directed the film—the 43rd feature documentary of his career. It’s on the bubble for awards consideration, in part because Wiseman makes no effort to campaign on behalf of his films. He says, with frankness, “I was very pleased to get the honorary Academy Award but I do not spend time politicking to get awards.” The same cannot be said of every documentary filmmaker. In this election season—the one for awards, not political office—the ballots have yet to be counted. ★

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B L A C K PA N T H E R WA S M O R E T H A N A M E G A BLOCKBUSTER, WITH MORE THAN A BILLION D OLL ARS IN BOX OFFICE. I T WA S A C U LT U R A L TOUCHSTONE, THANKS IN L A R G E PA R T T O I T S P L AY E R S ’ C O M M I T M E N T TO ROOTING THE STORY I N I T S A F R I C A N H E R I TA G E . ASSEMBLING DIRECTOR R YA N C O O G L E R A N D S TA R S MICHAEL B. JORDAN A N D L U P I TA N Y O N G ’ O, MIKE FLEMING JR. EX AMINES THE MOST I M P O R TA N T S U P E R H E R O MOVIE EVER, AS IT S TA N D S O N T H E V E R G E O F S H AT T E R I N G A N AWA R D S G L A S S C E I L I N G

PHOTOGRAPHS BY S H AYA N A S G H A R N I A

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LACK PANTHER HAS RISEN TO PLENTY OF CHALLENGES, shattering every expectation to far surpass the ticket sales of any film by a Black director, with a cast populated by African and African-American performers, on its way to a $1.3 billion global gross. But there’s one challenge remaining: can the film overcome a clear Academy prejudice and get a fair shake as a Best Picture candidate? It’s a prejudice that, for once, is

superhero genre as Get Out was for

the camera, Black Panther featured

a profound connection to its imagined

nothing to do with race. If history is

horror, tackling deep-seated issues,

a strong contingent of women, like

history and culture.

a guide, what Black Panther must

often for the first time in mainstream

production designer Hannah Beachler

overcome is the kneejerk reaction of

cinema. When Wakandan king T’Challa

and costume designer Ruth E. Carter,

on screen—except in the most

Academy voters to dismiss superhero

addresses countries at the UN about

who indelibly stamped the film as

subconscious ways—is how profoundly

movies outright. If it gets its Best

nations building bridges and not

a celebration of African culture and

everybody involved in its creation

Picture nomination, it’d be a first. Not

barriers, it’s hard not to see his speech

created a living, breathing world in

invested pieces of their personal

even Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight

as an answer to Trump’s isolationism.

Wakanda. Michael B. Jordan, making

journeys into Black Panther. As they

trilogy cracked that recognition, even

his third film with Ryan Coogler after

searched for their own identities as

as it spurred the Academy to broaden

considering this awards season: after

Fruitvale Station and Creed, left an

African-American descendants of

the Best Picture category from five to

playing color barrier-breakers Jackie

indelible mark as Erik Killmonger,

the continent of Africa, theirs is a

a possible 10 nominees. The challenge

Robinson and Thurgood Marshall,

turning the grudge-holding cousin of

celebration of a place so often depicted

facing Marvel and Disney this season

Chadwick Boseman brings the same

T’Challa and rival for the Wakandan

as volatile or violent. In the mix are

is preventing Black Panther from being

quiet dignity to T’Challa, convincingly

throne into a whirlwind of rage without

subtle infusions of the Black Power

marginalized as just another high roller

infusing intellect and physicality to a

making himself a scenery-chewer.

movement, the unforgivable history

in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

character first created by Stan Lee

Black Panther’s living, breathing scale

assembly line. It is so much more.

and Jack Kirby in recognition of the

comes from its depiction of the fictional

Africa’s natural resources. All that

changing world of 1960s Civil Rights

African nation of Wakanda, which brims

wrapped up in a Marvel movie destined

reforms. Both in front of and behind

with technological advancement and

for maximum reach.

Beyond the big business, Black Panther is as landmark for the

22

Among the bona fides worth

But what may not be evident

of the slave era and the ravaging of

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Kevin Feige

The Marvel Studios president on the importance of Black Panther By Mike Fleming Jr.

How much did the runaway success of Black Panther seem possible when you were first developing it? It all seemed possible. We were going to do a Black Panther film. We were going to hire a filmmaker of color and we knew the cast would be 90%+ actors of African descent. That was the story we were telling. At Marvel, we knew that we had a fanbase around the world. We bet that fanbase would follow us into this movie and that all of the ‘words of wisdom’—that this particular market doesn’t like actors that look like this or this other market won’t want a movie with people who look like this—it was never a concern for any of us at Marvel, or Bob Iger or anyone at Disney. It was about making it right and making it stand proudly alongside all of the other movies we’ve made in budget size, scope, and scale. That it has surpassed almost all of those movies, and in North America it has surpassed every single one of our other movie including Infinity War, this was a very Ryan, what did you see as the biggest

What was your connection to Africa before

welcome surprise. That certainly surpassed

opportunity—and challenge—of taking the reins

you started this? Stories told by your parents

the expectations.

of a film of this scale, tackling issues this deep-

as you grew up in Oakland, CA?

seated while addressing a huge audience?

Coogler: Yeah. When you come from where I’m

When did it start to feel exceptional?

Ryan Coogler: A lot of the challenge was per-

from, the way you learn about the continent is

It felt special when Ryan started putting his

sonal. I had only done two feature films so far and

through your elders and usually in the context of

story together. Ryan is an amazing filmmaker

never worked with a budget this large. Beyond the

the slavery conversation. The “how did we get

who loves the spectacle and loves the genre

subject matter, just that alone is enough to stress

here?” conversation is something that is alluded to

elements that Black Panther needed. He

you out. Then, a studio that hadn’t really had a film

in the start of our film.

also had something personal to say about

that didn’t work in a business and critical sense,

growing up as an African-American. He

and not wanting to be the one who failed in trying

With the short history that introduced the

wanted to express that within the canvas

to get the theme right.

Black Panther Africa mythology through

of something this large. The story started to

drawings that included slave ships?

come together, and the isolationist struggles

Which theme?

Coogler: Yeah. The tough part about it is, you

and the message of globalization—which by

Coogler: For all of us, it was: what does it mean to

find out you’re learning about this place from

the way he was writing over two years ago—

be African? When I was approached, I had never

people who haven’t been there themselves, due to

and it really started to feel amazing.

been to the continent. Even though my ancestors

circumstance. I remember having conversations

are from there, I view myself through the lens of

about the continent with my grandmother, who’s

being African from an African-American context

90 now and just had a chance to go a few months

and being part of the diaspora. I wanted so badly

ago. She lived her entire life up to that point in the

to get that right and questioned if I was the right

United States, so you’re hearing about a place

person for the job. The insecurity I felt all the way

through her idealized lens; an almost fantastical

through the process stemmed from one or all

lens because it’s often the flipside to the deepest

of those things. Each day, we conquered those

negative story you could have, which is the story

things by bringing on people, our key collaborators,

of how we actually got here. So you hear about

department heads, and eventually our cast. We

this other place that has to be counterbalanced

shared the burden of all of those things, and

as being beautiful and perfect and peaceful; the

through our own individual perspectives, we got

idealized version of Africa that lives in the head of

through it together.

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LUPITA NYONG’O “One man in his 60s turned to me and said, ‘I am so mad because I didn’t know I needed that; a reflection of myself.’ It was such a powerful validation to so many, including me, who worked on it.”

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young. And one that runs contrary to what I saw in

of that anger I felt with hope. It put me at ease and

the media about the continent—overwhelmingly

made me feel like I had a bigger family than I ever

talking about box office numbers. I’m

negative stuff—when I was growing up. It was never

thought I did.

talking about seeing people of all types,

the full story. So there was definitely an emotional

And then it happened, and I’m not

and particularly the African-American

connection; one of pride, one of mystery, and also

And changed your sense of self-identity?

community, coming out and celebrating.

one of shame when you look at how it’s portrayed.

Coogler: Absolutely. Yeah. Afterwards, I came

The importance of representation had

home and took… you ever heard of that African

been a talking point for a long time, but the

Before writing the script with Joe Robert Cole,

Ancestry site?

potency of that was proven in its opening

you spent almost a month in Africa. Will Smith

Lupita Nyong’o: Ancestry.com?

weekend.

once said he didn’t understand how Africa

Coogler: Not that one.

had changed Muhammad Ali until Smith went

Michael B. Jordan: The 23andMe one?

Was there ever a thought of making it

over there to prepare to play him. What did

Nyong’o: Oh, the AfricanAncestry.com one that

too polemical? Did you ever suggest

that trip mean to your own search for identity,

Chadwick is always talking about.

Ryan tone it down?

and the formation of the film?

Coogler: Yeah. Chad put me on it. They have a

Not much, frankly, because Ryan and Joe

Coogler: Growing up African-American, there’s

huge database of ethnic genetic information from

Robert Cole’s guiding hand, our executive

an anger that exists in you, the more knowledge

the continent and they compare and contrast it to

producer Nate Moore, really had a handle

that you get about history and what happened to

the information you give with a swab. They can tie

on where to push and where not. When

your ancestors. On this quest, you find out why

you to different ethnic groups and tell you where

Ryan turned in the draft where Killmonger

you didn’t grow up in this place, one that tends to

your ancestors most likely were from. It turns out

had the last line that he has in the

be hostile towards people who look like you, and

my wife [Zinzi Evans] and I found out that I’m from

movie—“Throw me in the ocean with my

towards your culture. So I guess I had 29 years’

the Tikar people from Cameroon and that her

ancestors that jumped off the slave ships

worth of that anger and this deep sense of loss.

people were Tikar as well. On my other side, I’m

because they knew death was better than

Because the African-American culture that we

Yoruba from Nigeria. It was crazy to find that out.

bondage”—I said to him, “I’m sure a lot is

have, it’s something we built from scraps. We were

The film just connected me to that continent.

going to change through the draft. But this

cut off from our religion, from our language on the

We all tried to tap into that feeling with this film;

is great. This has to be in the movie.” He

continent. Systematically, that was broken and

we talked about it all the time on the set. We had

thought it was the line I’d tell him to take

then what we call African-American culture, is

many different people from the two continents,

out, but it’s the whole movie.

kind of bastardized in what you’re taught by white

and everybody had a stake in the film and a sense

media. You’re taught that from other Black people

that this had got to be right because our families

Do you have a personal highlight of the

and when you come in contact with Africans from

were going to watch this. People I’m connected to

entire production?

that continent that you are different, and not really

are going to see this. It has got to tell our story and

I have two. One was visiting the set of

a part of its history.

tell it with authenticity and dignity.

what we call the Warrior Falls sequence,

So when I actually went to the continent for

where T’Challa first fights M’Baku. Seeing

the first time, what surprised me most was that I

Lupita, when you were growing up in Kenya,

the actors there—the leads and even

found I had so much in common with people from

aspiring to do the things you’re doing now,

the extras—who so embraced what we

the continent. I spent time with Lupita’s family

how did the movies you watched influence

were doing and were so additive. If you

in Kenya. I went to South Africa first, and it blew

your sense of self-identity?

talk to Lupita she’ll tell you the chanting,

my mind that I looked so much like the people

Nyong’o: You’d be surprised how prevalent Ameri-

the singing, the movement that occurs in

there. If I closed my mouth and didn’t talk, people

can cinema is around the world. I grew up watch-

Warrior Falls was almost all from them.

would come up to me and speak their own native

ing predominantly American cinema and British

They fought to have this, to bring on

languages and expect me to answer. That was ex-

television. And Mexican television. A lot of my

consultants who could teach those chants

tremely moving. I discovered that a lot of the ritu-

influences were foreign, and worlds I did not know.

to everyone there. It was magical to see

als and cultural practices we’re doing as African-

I grew up watching Jackie Chan and Steven Seagal

that come together with everybody.

Americans, they are originally from the continent,

and Bruce Lee, because we had a lot of these

and my ancestors actually did hold on to them.

fantastical action films. I also grew up watching

that, I was in a meeting with Ryan, Joe and

They call it different names but we still hold parts

The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. When you

Nate. We were discussing the story they

of that in our history, our heritage. It replaced a lot

watch things from other worlds it expands your

were going to start writing together. They

imagination and it connects you to humanity in a

start talking about their childhoods, their

more empathetic way because you’re experiencing

upbringings and it occurred to me it was

people that look nothing like you and yet they’re

the first time in my career I was the only

going through things that you’re going through. Like

white person in the meeting. It was amazing

the Von Trapp children, who can’t get their father

to just sit there and hear their stories, their

to pay them attention. I felt that way about my

shared histories about growing up and their

dad, you know.

differences growing up. Could you imagine

“The film just connected me to the continent. We all tried to tap into that feeling with this film. People I’m connected to are going to see this. It has got to tell our story.”

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Probably nine or 10 months before

if I was sitting around a table full of white What’s the impact of consuming culture that

people trying to make this movie? It would

largely excludes you?

never have worked. Of course we would

Nyong’o: It draws the world closer to you, but

never have done it, but it would never have

what it also does is it estranges you from yourself

worked. Diversity is a buzzword now, but

because you do not have the opportunities to see

this was practical, actual evidence of its

yourself reflected on screen. It breeds this idea

importance to storytelling.

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that to be something else is better than to be your-

stop downstairs and grab a movie and I could get a

was. Those were the images that I had. My dream

self. So you’re striving and aspiring for things that

comic book. I’d go through them and try to find dif-

to want to be an actor was born really young. I

are totally out of your grasp. A film like this was so

ferent things I liked. Black Panther was one of them

watched The Sound of Music and said, “I want to

important and so vital for me to be a part of and to

because he was one of the few that looked like me.

be her!” I had no problem connecting with people

commit to, because it was offering a mirror that I

Black Panther and Bishop [from X-Men]. Bishop

that didn’t look like me. Until I saw The Color Purple

just never had.

was one of my favorite characters growing up.

and I’m like, “Wait a minute, these people look

Coogler: With the mullet and the curl and the tat

exactly like me. They have kinky hair like mine.”

came out. Black Panther was still in the cinema.

on his face?

Sometimes the hunger to see yourself is totally

That longevity doesn’t happen on the continent.

Jordan: Yeah. Those were ones that I really

silent and unconscious until you finally see it, and

It’s not our primary source of entertainment,

connected with. Black Panther was just always

then it’s like a floodgate opens.

because watching films in cinemas is extremely

that dude. I guess at that age you are not really

Jordan: You want to make up for lost time. You

expensive. But people were going in droves. I met

connecting the dots with the whole representation

want to catch up to that.

people who went with their mother, their grand-

aspect, and it wasn’t something I knew I needed

Nyong’o: I had no problem, because I didn’t

mother, and their children. It was totally bringing in

at that time, but once I realized that’s what I was

grow up in a country whose structure was racial

different generations.

missing out on…

in the same way that America is. So the ability

I went to Nigeria in May, shortly after the film

One man in his 60s turned to me and said, “I

Now that I’m making films, I want to produce

to connect was straightforward until such a time

am so mad because I didn’t know I needed that;

and create more projects that are aspirational. A

that it wasn’t. There’s a lot of hurt when it comes

a reflection of myself.” It was such a powerful

guy like me could be a doctor, an astronaut. So

to all African peoples. [Ryan and Michael] have

validation to so many, including me, who worked

when this project came up, everything was magni-

explained the African-American situation. For

on it. What I think then it does for people who are

fied. It was an intense feeling; an opportunity even

Africans, Africa has been a continent that has

not Black and who are not African is that it offers

if wasn’t so specific or articulated. But a feeling

been exploited often, in all sorts of ways. A lot

them the opportunity that Jackie Chan and Steven

that this generation needs to see themselves on

has been taken from the continent and one thing

Seagal offered me. To see we are not any different.

the screen because this is what it’s going to do for

that Africa does not receive is the acknowledg-

So it’s so important to have that cross pollination

them. This Halloween, we saw all these young kids,

ment for the things it has contributed, way back

and that’s what this film did.

women, little girls and boys dressed as Killmonger

to the origins of the world as we know it today.

or Nakia. You feel like, man, this is what they’ve been

This goes in all areas. You’re talking resources.

I grew up a white Marvel Comics kid and

waiting for. They didn’t even know they needed

You’re talking culture. You’re talking art. All of it.

never thought about how it would be to not

this. They didn’t understand what representation

I grew up with a deficit of an appreciation for my

see heroes who share my skin color. The

could do for a person, in moving forward and having

culture. There is also a lot of condescension that

overwhelming success of Black Panther might

dreams. Lupita, when did you become aware of

we experience from the world. There’s a lot of,

change that for future generations. Michael

Black Panther?

I would say, underestimation from people from

and Ryan, you guys were also comic book kids.

Nyong’o: When Chadwick got cast. Back in 2014.

the continent and it’s something that we grapple

How did a lack of Black characters make you

I was like, “Oh, there’s a Black superhero? That’s

with all the time.

feel, and what did Black Panther mean to you

cool.” It goes back to the difference for me when

Coogler: There’s surprise when someone sees

as the rare exception? Coogler: That’s how I found Black Panther. I was into comics, coming up in the late-’80s, early-’90s, and there was a comic book shop right across the street from my elementary school. We would go there in-between school and basketball practice. We would read the books. We didn’t have money to buy them, but they’d let us thumb through them. I went in and asked the guy, “Are there any Black comic book characters in here?” I really was searching for it and that’s how I found out about Panther. He took me over and showed me some issues that Panther was in. He kind of pitched me who he was and so I learned about him at an early age, literally seeking out—there wasn’t a word for it yet, but representation—I was looking for it there. That’s how I found him.

you’re intelligent.

“I want to create more projects that are aspirational. A guy like me could be a doctor, an astronaut. When this project came up, everything was magnified. It was an intense feeling.”

Jordan: Similar thing for me, but I didn’t have a

Nyong’o: Like, “You mean there are skyscrapers on the continent? Wait a minute, you’ve got Wi-Fi?” Even though, right now, mobile commerce in Africa is more advanced than it is here for certain. There is also a very comfortable ignorance that people are never called on. It’s not OK to not know about England and the River Thames, but the idea that you’d know anything about the Nile and where it starts and where it ends, that’s not expected of anyone in the world. Even to this day I hear doctors that refer to Africa as a country. We had to grapple with a narrative of a country that has isolated itself from the continent, and from the world, and what does that mean for an African nation to turn its back on its own continent? But it is also self-loving and… Jordan: Independent. Nyong’o: And totally independent. There’s

place like that. I watched the X-Men cartoons—

we talk about being aware of people that look like

something very aspirational about that. The fact

Saturday morning cartoons—and that got me into

you in the media and it being so rare. I loved comic

that you could have a completely contemporary

comic books. There was a pool hall in Montclair,

books but I grew up reading Tin-Tin and Popeye. I

traditional society that is operating on a level

New Jersey. My dad would take me, and he would

grew up in a predominantly Black world, but in my

that is aspirational for everybody else. That was

teach me how to shoot pool. There was a comic

little child mind anything worth writing about was

the healing factor. That’s the thing that I feel we

book store downstairs right next to an old Block-

white. I remember drawing my family and coloring

wanted to make sure we highlighted and cel-

buster Video store where we would rent movies

them with beige because all my children’s books

ebrated, that in a sense this is an incubator for

and stuff. That was our tradition. He would take

had beige characters. I thought that was how you

an Africa that will never exist but one that we

me and my little bro to go play pool and we would

draw. That’s how unaware I was of how warped it

can reclaim in our minds and aspire to be. Bring-

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MICHAEL B. JORDAN “I know what oppression feels like. I know what that is. Maybe we’re not so different [Killmonger and I]. I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways from the movie. To bring some humanity to somebody who was constantly looked at as not human.”

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ing those sensitivities to the table to make a film representative of African peoples—both African and AfricanAmerican—that both parties would watch and feel like it was authentic to their story. We were successful in that. When I was in Nigeria, an elderly man said to me, “How are my cousins Boseman and Jordan?” I’ve never heard that sentiment before. In a sense, the film allowed us to meet in the middle of the Atlantic, saying we are cousins. We are related and there is a connection to be made and to be fostered. Michael, Killmonger was a much more grounded and layered villain than we’re used to in superhero cinema. What went into keeping him from being a one-dimensional bad guy? Jordan: I can’t take credit for that. It was all the research and work Ryan and Joe Robert Cole put into crafting this character, understanding the pain that we have because we are AfricanAmerican and we’re here. Erik became a product of his environment, he’s what circumstance and his country made him. As a kid he heard stories of Wakanda, this place he’s never been to, that is in his blood, but which he doesn’t even really know exists because he is in Oakland. How could Wakanda exist for someone like me? That hope being taken away from him at a very young age sent him down a path of where he decided to become the best version of himself under his circumstances, and he’s going to find this place by any means necessary. If you have empathy for Killmonger, it’s

BEHIND BLACK PANTHER The comic book history of T’Challa and other superheroes of color BY G E O F F B OUC H E R

28

Two titans of the comic book industry, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, created Black Panther in 1966 and made history in the process: T’Challa, the noble protector of a fictional African nation, was the world’s first Black superhero. Arriving 28 years after Superman launched a costumed superhero craze, Black Panther reflected the values of his creators, especially artist Kirby, a WWII veteran raised in a Jewish family in New York City

who proudly shaded his pencil creations (among them Captain America, X-Men, Thor and the Silver Surfer) with his liberal and altruistic values. Lee and Kirby’s Black Panther arrived a few months before its notorious namesake, the Black Panther Party, was founded in Oakland by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The shared name was, by all accounts, a coincidence, but the linkage was enough to make Kirby a target of

ominous hate mail, according to his son, Neal Kirby. It was the second time in Kirby’s career that his work had made him a target of threats. (The first time was early 1941 when Nazi loyalists were agitated by the Captain America cover showing the hero slugging Adolf Hitler.) The artist stayed loyal to his creation, however. “My Dad always put his world views in his heroes,” Neal Kirby says. “And he was very proud of Black Panther.”

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because you understand his motive.

so a pretty 360-degree understanding

You understand how much pain he has

of it, but all that was nothing compared

in this heart, and that he wants the

to actually going there and being around

injustice done to him to be heard. He

your people and visiting Robben Island

doesn’t care if he dies. He had to make

and that prison where Nelson Mandela

an impact on T’Challa. At the end of the

spent so many years, and learning about

movie, you see him go back into Oakland

apartheid that isn’t in the textbooks.

and buy those buildings. So Killmonger

Which is a very narrow window of what

did win, in my eyes. It wasn’t about

they want you to know, and kind of how

living or dying. It’s about just getting the

to feel and view yourself.

point across and having a conversation,

To be able to go and visit the shanty

one that has never been had on screen

towns and see what life is like over there

before. About what it means to be

and what they’re going through, but

African, seeing what African-Americans

then also being able to see very strong,

have been through.

Black, powerful, wealthy educated

I go through that same type of pain. I

people. People will actually ask, “Did

know what oppression feels like. I know

you see wild animals walking around?”

what that is. Maybe we’re not so dif-

No, not at all. It’s actually a big, huge

ferent. I think that’s one of the biggest

city with tall skyscrapers and buildings

takeaways from the movie. To bring

and all that other stuff. I was 23 or 24,

some humanity to somebody who was

and going over made a big impact on

constantly looked at as not human.

me. And then to be a part of this movie, giving me the point of view from the Af-

Did you find yourself having a similar

rican-American perspective, it was really

transformative experience when you

important to me. I took it very seriously

visited the continent?

and I am going back. For Thanksgiving.

Jordan: I did, but not in preparation

Nyong’o: Where are you going?

for this movie. I had a chance to go a

Jordan: Joburg.

few years ago when I shot this movie

Nyong’o: You haven’t had enough of

Chronicle out there in Cape Town, South

South Africa, I see.

Africa. Crazy; that location for a movie

Jordan: No, I know, I’ve got to get up

set in Seattle. That was my first time

north.

going and honestly, just hearing Ryan

Nyong’o: You’ve got to come east!

talk about his experiences and his

Come on! You can’t sit across from me

anticipation of going, my experience

and not go to Kenya.

was similar. I expected to see something

Jordan: I know!

Black Panther also has to overcome its early 2018 release, but that isn’t unprecedented. Wisdom once held that the Academy wouldn’t consider a horror film, until The Silence of the Lambs—which came out two days before Black Panther’s February 16 release, albeit in 1991—virtually swept the major category Oscars, despite the fact its sponsoring studio, Orion, was going bankrupt and had next to no funds to wage a campaign. So it’s not impossible. Academy voters don’t owe Black Panther an Oscar nomination. After Deadline’s interview with Coogler, Nyong’o and Jordan on the Disney lot, the trio headed to a Q&A in a screening room there. The crowd was enthusiastic, but when asked how many had seen Black Panther before that night, the hands that went up were, well, not nearly enough. What Academy voters owe this film is to see it and give it a fair shake, because a lot of very talented people broke off pieces of themselves and their very personal search for identity as AfricanAmericans and Africans, to elevate a so much more.

They’ve never been to the continent

It sounds like there’s a dinner invite

either. I’ve always been told as a kid

in there somewhere.

stories about Nigeria and the Yoruba

Nyong’o: It’s an open invitation.

culture and Kenya and Ghana. I have a

Coogler: Take that up, Mike. Her family

lot of family and friends from Ghana and

is amazing. ★

STORMY RELATIONSHIP Ororo Munroe, the weathermanipulating mutant known as Storm, was introduced in a 1975 issue of Uncanny X-Men. She has been portrayed by Oscar winner Halle Berry in four of Fox’s X-Men films. In a 2006 Marvel issue, she married the Black Panther—a romance that presaged the Disney-Fox merger?

BEYOND SUPERHERO PREJUDICE,

superhero movie into

else. My parents are pretty aware.

CAGE MATCH The 1972 debut issue of Marvel’s Luke Cage, Hero for Hire was clearly modeled on Richard Roundtree’s iconic performance in 1971’s Shaft. Cage had a shortlived Netflix series (2016-2018) but his most enduring showbiz legacy is as an inspiration. When actor Nicolas Coppola shed his famous family name in the early 1980s (to carve out his own Hollywood path) he opted for a stage name that paid homage to his favorite Marvel character.

Can Black Panther Win?

SADDLE UP Lobo wasn’t a superhero, but in 1965 he became the first fictional African-American character with his own comic book series. As an Old West man of action Lobo was a bit like the Lone Ranger but distributors in Southern states balked when they saw the Dell Comics character. Lobo was canceled after its second issue but some fans wonder if he was a direct inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

—Mike Fleming Jr.

FALCON’S FLIGHT The Falcon debuted in 1969, Harlem native Sam Wilson the first African-American superhero (Black Panther was born on African soil). Anthony Mackie plays him in the MCU, but in the comics his history with the team was brief. Invited to join in 1979, he quit in a huff just 10 issues later. He was insulted that the team’s government masters had brought him in to fill a diversity quota, a reference to Affirmative Action debates of the era.

LIGHTNING STRIKES DC Comics first introduced Black Lightning in 1977 as an inner city school teacher named Jefferson Pierce, who protects his superhero secret identity by affecting “jive lingo” while in costume and also donning a mask with a fake afro affixed to the top of it. The character got his own series on The CW in 2016 but he ditched the faux afro before making the leap to television.

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D THE DIALOGUE

OSCAR CONTENDERS/ ACTO RS

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Rami

Jan Sewell found a way to get me to look as physically close to Freddie; it took two hours a

MALEK

day in hair and make-up. It truly took an army to create Freddie. During wardrobe and costume fittings, I felt that I could be my most audacious and liberated in finding the flamboyant side of him. I wanted to try things on for the purpose of being opulent or audacious. I thought about what he would choose, and how he wanted them

The Mr. Robot star channels Freddie Mercury with style in Bohemian Rhapsody. BY A N T H O N Y D ’A L E S SA N D RO

to flow in concert, and how they shaped his body. I also spoke with his sister Kashmira. It’s their demeanor that alters when they speak about their dear friend and brother, that’s what I gathered the most; the impact and effect he had on

WHEN SACHA BARON COHEN LEFT THE FREDDIE MERCURY biopic back in 2013, it was hard to imagine another chameleon who could step into the skin of the flamboyant 1970s-’80s musical genius. Then came Mr. Robot star Rami Malek who went from playing a paranoid introvert on the USA series, to portraying one of the rock world’s loudest gamechanging extroverts in Bohemian Rhapsody. Stepping into the shoes of a recent celebrity is one of the most daunting assignments an actor can face. But after extensive physical and psychological prep, Malek fit the part of Mercury like a glove.

them and the world over. He’s an iconic, defiant figure. He never hid who he was, but didn’t want to become a poster child for anyone’s causes. After Sacha Baron Cohen pulled away from the project back in 2013, what was important for Brian May, Roger Taylor and Jim Beach in seeing the realization of Freddie Mercury on the big screen? I have no idea what came before me, but I had one obligation and that was to get this right. There was no time for any type of interference. One thing I know is that they never wanted to

How did the role of Freddie Mercury

I went off what I heard [in Mercury] and I

show a hedonistic, salacious, gratuitous side of

come to your attention? Were you

sent it off. I was told it would not be shared,

his life. They wanted to see every aspect of who

tracking it?

only among a few people. I would be naïve

the man was, the highs and lows. You don’t want

I wasn’t. I was unaware of it. I believe I was

to believe that. I’m pretty sure every studio

to overshadow what a magical human being he

flying to Los Angeles to do press for Mr.

saw the tape.

was in such sadness. The main goal for Brian and

Robot, and quite honestly, it was an oppor-

Roger was that they wanted his story structured

tune time. I sat down with [producer] Gra-

What wisdom did Queen’s Brian May

ham King and [executive producer] Denis

and Roger Taylor impart to you in pre-

O’Sullivan for six hours in Santa Monica. I

paring for your role?

What were the specific takeaways from all

do feel like, going into the meeting, I knew

We would go to dinner. They were absolutely

the research you did on Freddie Mercury?

what the subject at hand was going to be.

essential to me. Surviving this, even coming

It was difficult as I could hear as many stories

Denis had seen me in Mr. Robot and brought

close to this, that I was even capable of

as possible. I looked at all the archival footage

it to Graham’s attention. From there, how

making this dream a reality. They are beyond

and listened to all the radio interviews. I thought

I’d be the right choice for Freddie Mercury

classy; they are so sophisticated and

they were the most candid. You could hear how

is beyond me. When I sat down with them I

elegant and smart, two really brilliant human

he’s communicating with a server at a restaurant

refused to fall into the trap that most actors

beings who allowed me to tell the story of

and asking for a vodka tonic. I made a diary of all

do where they overcompensate. “Listen, I’m

their dearest, closest friend for the first time.

the lyrics of the songs he wrote, so that I could

not a singer, I don’t play the piano. I think

I got to audition a choreographer for the

more triumphantly than tragically.

understand what he was embroiled with, what

I’d be able to figure out his moves, but even

film. In regards to who I’d mesh with the

he was so desperate to share. There’s a poet of

that might be a question,” I told them.

best, I needed a movement teacher, and to

great stature and beauty in his lyrics and I beg

be spontaneous. I never wanted anything

anyone to print those lyrics and tell me if they are

So, how did you transform into Freddie?

to feel overly rehearsed or planned. As Fred-

not comparable to the voice itself. I wrote out all

I just stopped everything. I put everything on

die would say, “If it’s planned, it’s boring.”

his lyrics, which became a diary, because if you’re

the backburner. The film was not officially

There’s a danger of mimicry or imitation and

writing something that you want to sing and

greenlit, we didn’t have a studio backing

I wanted to make sure that every moment

repeat over and over; I don’t think that’s going to

us yet. Graham had faith in me. He told me

was combusting spontaneously on stage or

be a lie as a human being.

that the studios were going to need to see

in a scene. Polly Bennett helped me .

something. So I put myself on tape doing

For God’s sake, think about “Find Me Some-

William Conacher was my dialect

body to Love” or the song “You Take My Breath

interviews as Freddie Mercury. That’s when

coach. We’d listen to Freddie’s mother

Away”: “Every breath that you take/Any sound

it all started in some immediate connection.

speak, there was a good Gujarati accent

that you make/Is a whisper in my ear.” I challenge

I couldn’t tell you what it was; there was a

that was under his RP, his received pro-

anyone to say that these are not the messages

state of confidence I conjured, having to

nunciation, because he went to British

and lyrics he was confounded by, searching for

emotionalize him in a short period of time.

boarding school in India.

throughout his life. ★

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John C.

this crazy, crazy time of looking for gold. It was absolute madness on a huge scale.

R E I L LY

Joaquin Phoenix plays your brother. How did you settle upon him, and what does he bring to the role? Well, I think that Joaquin is the best actor, in my opinion right now, in terms of being alive on screen. There’s so much he’s done,

With no fewer than four films on release before the end of the year, the dapper character actor turns producer for The Sisters Brothers. BY DA MON W I SE

but specifically, if you watch The Master, you literally can’t tell what he is going to do from moment to moment. He’s also someone with incredible integrity and someone I really respect. I knew I’d have to spend a lot of time with this person, and I knew that our relationship as brothers in the film was one of total respect, and so it had to be someone who could meet me toe-to-toe in many

A

S A PRODUCER-ACTOR, giving carte blanche to an auteur director can be a dangerous thing, as John C. Reilly found when he and his wife Alison Dickey began shopping their passion project, and Reilly’s first feature producer credit—an adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s 2012 novel The Sisters Brothers—to some of the world’s most respected helmers. Luckily, after bracing himself to give up on his dream of playing Eli Sisters, one of the film’s two leads, Reilly found himself back on board when France’s Jacques Audiard took the reins, casting Joaquin Phoenix opposite him as Charlie Sisters, the other of two bounty hunters on a mission to kill a wanted prospector in 1850s Oregon.

different ways, and, luckily, Jacques agreed. Actually, part of handing the whole project to Jacques and saying, “You have total freedom to do whatever you want,” included giving him the final say about all the casting, which included my part. So I had to be open to my not playing this part, which I had been developing for years. In fact, there was a brief moment where it looked like I wasn’t going to play my part. I couldn’t believe it, but I thought, “All right, well, either this is a test or it’s what he needs to do. If this is what he needs to do to feel like he’s really free to make the film he wants to do, then great.” How do you balance producing and act-

What was it that appealed to you

film out of Patrick’s book. We were not

ing? Were you watching the dailies?

about this story by Patrick DeWitt? You

interested in hiring someone to be jobbing

The older I get, the less I watch dailies. I’ll

haven’t really done a Western before,

in and executing the book as written. We

leave you to interpret that how you wish. I

have you?

went to a few different people, and Alison

was very involved, like a traditional producer,

I was really looking for something more

always wanted to go to Jacques, but it felt

in the lead-up. Alison was really the main

original to do, and, yes, for better or worse,

somewhat counterintuitive for an Ameri-

driver of the production when she and I

the through-line in my whole career is that

can story that takes place in the Old West.

were partners in the pre-production, and

there’s a lot of variety, and this is one of the

Eventually though, we wised up and went

then when it came time for me to act on

few types of films that I hadn’t done yet.

with Jacques.

film, I had to step away from some of those

But that’s not really what drew me to the

more practical concerns because we were

project; what drew me was the emotional

As a Frenchman, how did Jacques

shooting. So I would do things like make sure

quality of the story. It has all the trappings

approach the Old West?

the other actors were doing OK. I would just

of a Western—horses, a manhunt, killing

A big feature of having a non-American tell

kind of troubleshoot. I was doing the bridge-

people with six-guns and all that—but in

this story was that it instantly freed him

building that Alison was doing between the

most Westerns, the characters are very

from all the stupid baggage that comes

[international] production partners, but

opaque. What I loved about Patrick’s book

with the Western. Jacques just looked at

between the director and actors, making

is that you finally really get inside the heart

the story like, “What is the reality of these

sure that everyone was in sync.

of these guys.

people? What do they eat every day?

And then, hopefully, just losing myself

Where are they going? What does it mean

again in the character. When you’re on a

How faithful did you intend to stay to

when you say this or that to a person at this

film set, there are lots of people there, but

the book?

time?” The movie is really exciting and, I feel,

most of them are not paying attention to

That was entirely Jacques’ decision. Our

really original and subversive in that way.

you. There’s only one person that you really

main criteria for finding a director and a

It’s like these are just people who live at this

need paying attention to you, and that’s the

partner to do this film was to find someone

time. It’s not some mystic cowboy thing. It’s

director, so that you can get the feedback

who was going to make a very personal

a human story set against the backdrop of

you need. ★

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it and we had schedules. And he makes a

Hugh

mean martini too, by the way.

JAC K M A N

After going through this process, where do you fall on the politics of politics? You played a man who was overflowing with good ideas to make a better world, and he was undone. Was that right? Was it fair? It makes me terribly sad. I think, regardless

The Greatest Showman is back as Gary Hart, the scandal-plagued presidential candidate, in Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner. BY JOE UTICHI

of your politics—and by the way he was a pallbearer at John McCain’s funeral just because that was the kind of person he was—he was a maverick. He was very creative. He had incredible ideas. And he had foresight. I can list from employment, to the military, to foreign policy, to education, he foresaw what was going to happen in so many areas. Even if he wasn’t president, to lose his voice to public life has been, for

S

INCE HANGING UP HIS CLAWS AS WOLVERINE in spectacular fashion with Logan, Hugh Jackman has been exploring. He returned to his first love, musical theatre, last year for the blockbusting The Greatest Showman, and now tackles perhaps the meatiest role of his career to date as 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart. Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner follows the three weeks it took Hart’s leading campaign for the Democratic ticket to implode when reports surfaced of an extramarital affair. It was a changing point for American politics, Jackman says, but getting to know the elusive politician proved challenging.

the world’s sake, a great loss. Whether you agree with his politics or not, he had bold ideas. He was not interested in power for power’s sake. He’s a true civic-duty-first, principled kind of proud American who really had great ideas on how to steer America through the troubled waters it was going to face, from the Middle East, to the end of the Cold War, to the change in manufacturing, to education. Every idea was just so bold and brilliant and I just felt deeply sad; deeply, deeply sad. You’ve had a fantastic few years. You

What did you know about Gary Hart?

ways, and this was very much a turning

got to rest your claws on Wolverine

I knew nothing. I was probably in the UK

point. Certainly, it was a turning point

in the way you wanted to with Logan,

in 1987 on a year off, so I don’t remember

between the press and politicians, but also

and since then it feels like you’ve been

much about the entire year let alone this

I think that real introduction of the politics

exploring in your career. Has that been

three-week political campaign unraveling.

of personality and how much we judge a

a conscious choice?

It’s really interesting, because when I’d tell

leader on their private life as much as their

You’re 100% right. People often give the

the people I was doing the movie, almost

public ideas.

advice—and I give it to my kids all the

to a person they were like, “Oh yeah,

time—to follow your gut. “Take a risk,

Monkey Business, right?” So clearly people

What did you make of meeting him?

and you’ll never feel bad if you believe in

do know stuff, and remember it, but not

He was as charismatic, as intelligent,

something and it doesn’t work out. If you

hugely. I think that’s what ended up being

as enigmatic, as difficult to define as

give it your all.” And the best examples in

really powerful about the story itself. The

everyone told me. Sometime in the ‘70s,

my own life have probably been in the last

connective tissue is so strong with what’s

Gary was a campaign manager for George

two years.

going on today. I think it’s a previously

McGovern. I don’t know if there’s ever in

forgotten part of politics.

history been someone who has occupied

people have to have the courage to make

that role, which is logistics of the highest

something like The Greatest Showman.

Watching the movie, it feels like the

order, and then became a leader himself.

I’m sure there were many people second-

halcyon days of politics, if this was the

When I went to stay with Gary, he had a

guessing it on the opening weekend. It

biggest scandal going.

long list of questions for me, like, “What

does feel all the sweeter when it works out.

100%. That’s particularly true when you

do you like to drink? What do you have

I’m really trying to walk the talk in terms of

see the relationship between Gary and the

to eat?” It was unbelievable. I saw the

using whatever profile I have to do things I

press at the beginning, or even politician

campaign manager there. He picked me

believe in, that I think are important stories

to politician. Like them joking, “Have you

up when I was there. He was at the curb

to tell and that I feel a compulsion to play

had a good week? How was your weekend,

at the airport. The trunk door was open,

something from within. These films aren’t

Gary?” It was a different time in a lot of

ready for my bag. He was organized and on

just yeses; they’re hell yeses. ★

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R i c h a rd E .

GRANT

the scenes, talked about the characters and had lunch together, and it was apparent within about five and-a-half nanoseconds that we really got on. That has so informed everything we did, and even the days when I wasn’t working, I’d go and have lunch with her or hang around. I can’t think of any other movie I’ve done that on, apart from L.A. Story, with Steve Martin, where the days I wasn’t

As the charming schemer Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the actor returns to his Withnail & I roots. BY JOE UTICHI

working I’d go in and play Boggle with him every day. We’ve remained great friends for the last 30 years. It was important to be there with Melissa because, in the film, we go through the A to Z of their friendship, from their initial meeting and the honeymoon phase, then loyalty, inevitable betrayal and begrudging reconciliation. It does all of that in a very short space of time. And it was an

J

ACK HOCK, AS PLAYED BY BRITISH thesp Richard E. Grant, storms into Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? with every ounce of bluster he can conjure. It’s hard, on the surface, to see how he could strike up a friendship with Melissa McCarthy’s quiet, introverted Lee Isreal, the author and literary forger who tried to pass off her copies of famous dead celebrities’ letters as the real thing. And yet, as their fiery friendship blossoms, and truths about Jack’s dark past emerge, Israel and Hock become inseparable. It’s a prime part for the 61-year-old actor, enjoying a career renaissance despite his expectation that he’d be put out to pasture by now.

incredible privilege to work with her and Marielle on this. We just had the best time on this set. Did you come away with the feeling that what Lee and Jack did was, largely, a victimless crime? Nobody died. You understand very clearly, because it charts that so accurately in the film, how and why they end up doing what they did. I’m not for one minute condoning it—that you should go to archives and steal famous dead writers’ letters and pass off forgeries. But Judge Judy was at the premiere in New York—it was surreal meet-

Lee Israel wrote a book on which the

He died at the age of 47—which is

ing her—and I said, “What would you do if

film is based, telling her own story. But

way younger than me—in 1994. And that

Lee Israel were in your court?” She said, “I

were you able to find much out about

he was blonde and from Portland. But

would have given her a light fine, because

the real Jack Hock?

Marielle Heller said right up front, when I

nobody died, nobody really got hurt, and

Precious little. I thought that there would

said, “Do I play this an American, is he an

I admired the fact that she managed to

be a Wikipedia level of information. But

American?” She said, “No, you should play

scam people that might have been scam-

the screenplay really had much more than

him English.”

mers to begin with.” Autograph dealers,

I was able to find out, other than all that

and that whole world, has a very shady el-

she’d put in the book. The book really just

How quickly did you find the relation-

ement to it to begin with. I thought, well, if

says that he was very good at fencing her

ship with Melissa?

Judge Judy gives it the stamp of approval,

letters once she’d been run out and the

Well it was an extraordinary thing, because

it can’t be so bad.

F.B.I. were on her tail. Where she thought

I turned up in Manhattan in the middle of

What I just find extraordinary is that

that she might get $600 for a letter, he’d

January last year, for the costume fitting,

Lee Israel pulled off this act of literary ven-

come back with $2000. So he was obvi-

and I said, “When do I start rehearsing, or

triloquism by impersonating such a variety

ously really good at schmoozing people

meet Melissa?” They said, “Oh, no, you

of great writers so convincingly that people

and fleecing them.

won’t meet her. She’s coming in on Friday

who are experts believed these letters

from LA and she’s got wig, make-up and

were the real McCoy. It was Butch Cassidy

ing up a cab driver at knife point, arguing

costume fittings all weekend, so you’ll start

and the Sundance Kid, except there were

about a cab fare. Obviously. And then he

shooting on Monday.”

no guns and nobody died.

He’d been in jail for two years, for hold-

had this cigarette holder, because he was a

My world turned upside down. I said,

chain smoker and he thought that it would

“No, I’m too paranoid, I can’t, I won’t sleep

I’d rather own a Lee Israel fake than

stop him getting cancer. So I asked when

for 72 hours.” I had to meet her, if only to

the real thing.

we started shooting, if it was possible to

find out what level she was pitching for the

Melissa is actually trying to get hold of

have that as a prop, because it seemed the

part. Naturally, she felt the same, so we

some, but we think the F.B.I. has them all.

one thing that I knew about him.

met for a couple of hours and read through

I’d love to own one too. ★

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cuss your own fluid sexuality?

Lucas

I mean, I want to be as open of a person as possible but I also want to be open within

HEDGES

the realm of… I don’t think the world needs to know about my sexuality. You know, I don’t think that’s something that really matters. But given the context of this film and the kinds of questions I’m asked, it felt as though for me to give a very black-andwhite answer of just, “Oh I’m straight,”

The wunderkind of awards seasons past comes of age with three roles this year in Boy Erased, Ben is Back and Mid90s. B Y A N T O N I A B LY T H

didn’t seem right. You’ve had Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman both playing your mother recently. What did you take away from those experiences? I feel as though both of them are great examples of people who work a lot but their lives aren’t rooted in their work, they’re rooted in their families. And I think

W

ITH EACH PASSING YEAR, Lucas Hedges multiplies his awards season filmography. First there was Manchester by the Sea, for which he was Oscar nominated. Then, last year, muchgarlanded turns in Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This year he’s back with no fewer than three films: Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, in which Hedges takes the lead as a teenager coerced into conversion therapy; his father Peter Hedges’ Ben is Back, in which he plays an addict struggling to reconnect with his mother; and Jonah Hill’s Mid90s, as Ian, a bullying older brother.

that is the soil from which they work. Julia is a mother and she really is there for her kids, and the same is true of Nicole, so I feel like the kind of actor I’d like to be is somebody who is able to accept my artistry through a deep place of groundedness in my own life. You were directed by your dad in Ben is Back. What were the highs and lows of that experience? I didn’t want to work with my dad, just because I thought it would be really uncomfortable, and I had made my mind up about that. But he sent me the script and

You’ve made so many excellent films

we hung out, he mentioned that he was

I was really blown away by it, and I had this

already, do you just go with your gut

excited about the ways in which we felt

feeling after I read it that there was some

when you pick a project?

similar, but also excited about the ways we

common thread between this and many

Well, I just listen for the thing that’s actu-

felt different from each other.

of my favorite projects. My favorite mov-

ally really exciting, whether that comes

ies contain within them contradictions,

in the form of a filmmaker I think is really

What sort of feedback have you had on

and when I think about a movie like Get

special, I really just try to pick the projects

the film from people who’ve experi-

Out, I think it really does a beautiful job of

that I’m excited to go to work on. I’ve done

enced conversion therapy?

articulating how complex and contradic-

projects I’m not excited about and it’s

By far the biggest blessing of this project

tory the world is today. I felt that there was

just not worth it. Really miserable. So all of

has been the responses we’ve had from

a confessional in how he wrote this movie,

these are really just a product of me being

people who’ve been to these programs. It

so I wanted to do it.

like, “Huh, I really would love to spend time

was very exciting for me to work on some-

with these people on this project.” It’s kind

thing that felt much bigger than me, and

awkwardness and an uncomfortableness

of simple in that respect.

much bigger than any project that I’d ever

from when we were first getting started,

been a part of. It gave me an opportunity

and it just required that we get in a rhythm

to approach it from a selfless standpoint.

and work and really just dive in to the point

How did you connect with Garrard Conley for Boy Erased?

I’ve gotten responses from people who

It was very challenging. I felt kind of an

where I stopped noticing it. And I feel as

The person I sat down with from the start

have said that they’re estranged from

though I did, but there are some interest-

was Garrard, and I really wanted to see

their parents, and now they feel as though

ing parallels between the fact that my

what happened when we met, because I

if they were to see them, that this movie

character’s going on a journey with his

have no interest in telling the story if he’s

has given them the words that they didn’t

mother, and going to places he doesn’t

not interested in me telling it. I don’t want

have; that they could speak now.

want to go with her. So I think that the

to impose myself on them and his story,

uncomfortable nature of being directed by

because that would make the whole expe-

What about the personal effect it has

my dad did nothing but inform the work in

rience not enjoyable for me. The first time

had on you, and your decision to dis-

a more truthful way. ★

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Bradley Cooper

Rami Malek

Toni Collette

Michael B. Jordan

Elizabeth Debicki

Jamie Dornan

Russell Hornsby and Amandla Stenberg

The Contenders LA NOVEMBER 3, LOS ANGELES The stars gather for the event that started it all. See more photos at Deadline.com Armie Hammer

Barry Jenkins

Sandra Bullock

40

John C. Reilly

Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Constance Wu

Willem Dafoe

RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK

Amy Adams

Felicity Jones

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Untitled-15 1

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A Very English Scandal

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A Twelve-Year Night Ashley Bell

Ă lvaro Brechner and Mariela Besuievsky

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Omnipresent N OV E M B E R 7 LOS ANGELES

Ted Robinson, Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe and Jon Wertheim

Strokes Of Genius

Martina Navratilova

42

John McEnroe

Velislav Pavlov, Mila Voinikova and Ilian Djevelekov

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OCTOBER 11 LOS ANGELES

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F O R

Y O U R

C O N S I D E R A T I O N

91ST ACADEMY AWARDS® • BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE • FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM - SWITZERLAND

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Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali

Nicole Kidman

Rosamund Pike

John Krasinski

Letitia Wright

Olivia Colman and Yorgos Lanthimos

Hugh Grant

Maria Bock and Thorbjørn Harr

Morgan Neville

Elizabeth Karlsen and Wash Westmoreland

The Contenders London OCTOBER 13, LONDON

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Jason Reitman

Tim Wardle

Arlissa

44

Steve Carell and Felix van Groeningen

Timothée Chalamet

RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK

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SUNSET SCREENING ROOM

2000 AVE OF THE STARS, LOS ANGELES RECEPTION TO FOLLOW

8730 SUNSET BLVD, LOS ANGELES RECEPTION TO FOLLOW, HILLS PENTHOUSE, 1:00PM

NEW YORK

WED, NOV 14TH • 2:30PM DocNYC CINEPOLIS CHELSEA 260 WEST 23RD ST

THURS, NOV 15TH • 5:00PM DocNYC CINEPOLIS CHELSEA 260 WEST 23RD ST

A M PA S , P G A , D G A A N D F I L M I N D E P E N D E N T M E M B E R S : R S V P T O R S V P @ M A G P I C T U R E S . C O M

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F O R

Y O U R

C O N S I D E R A T I O N

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BYYALITZA A CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE APARICIO, MARINA DE TAVIRA, DIEGO CORTINA AUTREY, CARLOS PERALTA, DANIELA DEMESA, MARCO GRAF, NANCY GARCÍA, VERÓNICA GARCÍA, ANDY CORTÉS, FERNANDO GREDIAGA

THE CAST IS SUPERB.

‘ ROMA’IS THE KIN D OF FILM YOU DON’ T FORGET. EXTRAORDINARY.” TH E TELEG RAPH

WI N N ER B EST FI LM VENICE FILM FESTIVAL GOLDEN LION

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Deadline Hollywood - Oscar Preview - Actor  
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