Page 1

PRESENTS N OV E M B E R 27, 2019 OSCA R P RE V I E W

JOHN LITHGOW Embodying a predator as Roger Ailes in Bombshell THE FAREWELL The familial partnership of Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen TAIKA WAITITI His film favorites and future directing dreams

Blessed Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins wrestle with divine inspiration in The Two Popes

DEADLINE.COM/AWARDSLINE

1127 - Cover.indd 1

THE DIALOGUE Renée Zellweger Laura Dern Annette Bening Alfre Woodard Florence Pugh Thomasin McKenzie

11/22/19 12:16 PM


++++

LIKE ALL THE TRULY GREAT DOCS OF THE PAST 50 YEARS, ITS ABILITY TO CONTAIN MULTITUDES WITHIN A SINGLE CAPTURED MOMENT SPEAKS VOLUMES.” - DAVID FEAR,

“FASCINATING.”

“EXQUISITE”

- ERIC KOHN,

- ANN HORNADAY,

WINNER

WINNER

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE JURY PRIZE

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE JURY PRIZE

RIVER RUN

SAR A S OTA

I N T E R N AT I O N A L FIL M FESTIVAL

FIL M FESTIVAL

NOMINEE

GOTHAM INDEPENDENT F I L M AWA R D S BEST DOCUMENTARY

NOMINEE

IDA DOCUMENTARY AWARDS

BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY BEST DIRECTOR BEST EDITING

NOMINEE CRITICS' CHOICE

DOCUMENTARY AWARDS BEST DOCUMENTARY BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY BEST DIRECTING BEST EDITING •

NETFLIXGUILDS.COM

Untitled-8 1

11/19/19 3:57 PM


6-24

FIRST TAKE John Lithgow takes on the mantle of a shamed man in Jay Roach’s Bombshell Art of Craft: Ruth E. Carter and Julian Day’s approach to two costumed icons Fast Facts: Nicole Kidman dishes some Big Little Lies intel On My Screen: Taika Waititi talks desert island films and musical dreams

26

COVER STORY Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce navigate good, evil and God in Fernando Meirelles and Anthony McCarten’s Vatican story The Two Popes

36

THE DIALOGUE: ACTRESSES Florence Pugh Renée Zellweger Alfre Woodard Laura Dern Annette Bening Thomasin McKenzie

1127 - TOC.indd 3

48

THE PARTNERSHIP Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen built a family-level connection on Lulu Wang’s The Farewell

52

FLASH MOB AwardsLine Screening Series AFI Fest ON THE COVER Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins photographed exclusively for Deadline by Josh Telles ON THIS PAGE Zhao Shuzhen and Awkwafina photographed exclusively for Deadline by Evan Mulling

11/22/19 12:18 PM


DEADLINE.COM

Breaking News

Follow Deadline.com 24/7 for the latest breaking news in entertainment.

PRESENTS

Sign up for Alerts & Newsletters GENERAL MANAGER & CHIEF REVENUE OF F ICER

CO- EDI TORS-IN-CHIEF

Stacey Farish

Nellie Andreeva (Television) Mike Fleming Jr. (Film)

EDITOR

AWARDS EDITOR & COLUMNIST

Joe Utichi CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Craig Edwards DEPUTY EDITOR

Antonia Blyth

ASSISTANT EDITOR

Matt Grobar

SOCIAL MEDIA D I RECTOR

Scott Shilstone DESIGNER

Otavio Rabelo VIDEO PRODUCERS

EDI TOR-AT-LARGE

Peter Bart

GEN RE EDITOR

Geoff Boucher EXECU TIVE EDITOR

Michael Cieply

EDITORI AL DIRECTOR

Anthony D’Alessandro N Y BU SIN ESS EDITOR

Dade Hayes

M AN AGI N G EDITOR

EVENTS MANAGER

Dominic Patten

Patrick Hipes

SEN I OR ED ITOR & CHIEF TV CRITIC M AN AGI N G EDITOR

Erik Pedersen VICE PRESIDENT, B RAND PARTNERSH IPS

Kasey Champion

DIRECTORS, ENTERTAI N M EN T

Brianna Corrado Tiffany Windju

SENIOR ACCOUN T EXECU TI VE

London Sanders

DIGITAL SALES PL AN N ER

Jessica Cole

AD SALES COOR DI N ATOR

Malik Simmons

CO- M AN AGING EDITOR

Denise Petski

IN TERN ATIONAL EDITOR

Nancy Tartaglione

IN TERN ATIONAL CO-EDITORS

Peter White Andreas Wiseman

Michael Petre

PRODUCTION MAN AGER

PH OTO EDITOR

PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Natalie Longman

DISTRIB UTION D I RECTOR

Andrea Wynnyk

FOLLOW DEADLINE Facebook.com/Deadline Instagram.com/Deadline Twitter.com/Deadline YouTube.com/Deadline

EMAIL US

The Actor’s Side with Pete Hammond

Meet some of the biggest and hardest working actors of today, who discuss life, upcoming projects, and their passion for film and television. deadline.com/vcategory/ the-actors-side/

Brandon Choe

CONTACT PMC LOS ANGELES 11175 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025 +1 323-617-9100 NEW YORK 475 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10017 +1 212-213-1900

NEWS: editors@deadline.com ADVERTISING: sfarish@pmc.com

George Grobar VICE CHAIRM AN

Gerry Byrne

CHIE F ACCO UNTING O FFICE R

Sarlina See

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESID E NT, BUSINESS D EVE LO PM E NT

Craig Perreault

Debashish Ghosh

SE NIO R VICE PRESID E NT, PRO D UCT

Jenny Connelly

SE NIO R VICE PRESID E NT, FINANCE

Ken DelAlcazar

SE NIO R VICE PRESID E NT, O PE RATIO NS

Tom Finn

VICE PRESID E NT, CREATIVE

Nelson Anderson

VICE PRESID E NT, PRO D UCTIO N O PE RATIO NS

Joni Antonacci

VICE PRESID E NT, TALE NT RE LATIO NS

Behind the Lens with Pete Hammond

Explore the art and craft of directors from firsttimers to veterans, and take a unique look into the world of filmmakers, from their own perspectives. deadline.com/vcategory/ behind-the-lens/

Production Value

Go behind the scenes with the talented craftsmen and women behind some of this year’s acclaimed films and television series. deadline.com/vcategory/ production-value/

Rebecca Bienstock

HEAD O F PO RTFO LIO SALES

Stephen Blackwell

VICE PRESID E NT, PM C D IGITAL ACQ UISITIO N

Gerard Brancato

VICE PRESID E NT, HUM AN RESO URCES

Anne Doyle

VICE PRESID E NT, HUM AN RESO URCES

Mara Ginsberg

VICE PRESID E NT, FINANCE

Young Ko

VICE PRESID E NT, TECHNO LO GY

Gabriel Koen

VICE PRESID E NT, GLO BAL PARTNE RSHIPS AND LICE NSING

Kevin LaBonge

VICE PRESID E NT, CUSTO M E R EXPE RIE NCE AND M ARKE TING O PE RATIO NS

Noemi Lazo

VICE PRESID E NT, REVE NUE O PE RATIO NS

Brian Levine

VICE PRESID E NT, D E PUTY GE NE RAL CO UNSE L

Judith R. Margolin

IN TERN ATIONAL FILM REPORTER

Anita Bennett Greg Evans Bruce Haring Amanda N’Duka Dino-Ray Ramos David Robb

CHIE F O PE RATING O FFICE R

M ANAGING D IRECTO R

VIDEO SER IES

Jake Kanter

ASSOCI ATE EDITORS

Jay Penske

Todd Greene

IN TERN ATIONAL TELEVISION EDITOR

Thomas Grater

CHAIRM AN & CEO

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESID E NT, BUSINESS AFFAIRS & GE NE RAL CO UNSE L

Pete Hammond

David Janove Andrew Merrill Shane Whitaker Kathy Selim

Sign up for breaking news alerts and other Deadline newsletters at: deadline.com/newsletters

Deadline Hollywood is owned and published by Penske Media Corporation

VICE PRESID E NT, GLO BAL TAX

PODCASTS

Julie Trinh

Crew Call

VICE PRESID E NT, HUM AN RESO URCES & CO RPO RATE CO M M UNICATIO NS

Deadline’s editorial director Anthony D’Alessandro focuses on below-the-line nominees. deadline.com/tag/crewcall-podcast/

New Hollywood

A platform for people of color, LGBTQ members, women, and other underrepresented voices in entertainment. deadline.com/tag/newhollywood-podcast/

Lauren Utecht

VICE PRESID E NT, TECHNICAL O PE RATIO NS

Christina Yeoh

VICE PRESID E NT, AUD IE NCE M ARKE TING & SUBSCRIPTIO NS

Julie Zhu

ASSO CIATE VICE PRESID E NT, PRO D UCT D E LIVE RY

Nici Catton

SE NIO R D IRECTO R, INTE RNATIO NAL M ARKE TS

Gurjeet Chima

SE NIO R D IRECTO R, ADVE RTISING O PE RATIO NS

Eddie Ko

SE NIO R D IRECTO R, TALE NT ACQ UISTIO N

Andy Limpus

SE NIO R D IRECTO R, D EVE LO PM E NT

Amit Sannad

SE NIO R D IRECTO R, PM C CO NTE NT

Karl Walter

SE NIO R D IRECTO R, STRATEGIC PLANNING & ACQ UISITIO NS

Mike Ye

D IRECTO R, SEO

Constance Ejuma E D ITO RIAL & BRAND D IRECTO R, INTE RNATIO NAL

Laura Ongaro

D IRECTO R, BUSINESS D EVE LO PM E NT

Deadline presents AwardsLine is published nine times a year: five issues during Emmy Season (May-August), four issues during Oscar Season (November-February).

1127 - Masthead.indd 4

Katie Passantino

SE NIO R PRO D UCT M ANAGE R

Derek Ramsay

11/22/19 12:19 PM


Untitled-4 1

11/21/19 4:45 PM


Quick Fire With Nicole Kidman p.16 | Iconic Costuming p.20 | Taika Waititi’s Film Favorites p.24

The Devil You Know To become the disgraced Roger Ailes in Jay Roach’s Bombshell, John Lithgow dug into an alien mindset and the shame of the man behind the monster BY AM Y NI CHO L SO N

6

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

1127 First Take - Opener.indd 6

PHOTOGRAPH BY

Michael Buckner

11/22/19 1:50 PM


F O R

Y O U R

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

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM OFFICIAL OSCAR®bĭƛƀǗԵƍbĭb Ě

ƍƛÈƀƀÈĭ ĭWbLJłLƛÈLJbՐ ‘ATLANTICS’ UNDENIABLY HERALDS MATI DIOP

ƍƍLÈĭƛÈĭ ÈĚĥĥĐbƀƛłNJƛL¤ՐՃ ƀł bƀbDbƀƛՐLłĥ

WINNER

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL SUTHERLAND AWARD FOR BEST DEBUT FEATURE

MATI DIOP

WINNER

WINNER

TORONTO INTL FILM FESTIVAL MARY PICKFORD PRIZE

HAMPTONS INTL FILM FESTIVAL

MATI DIOP

MAMA SANE

 ĭbƍLJƀWƛƀÈĚDĚǮÈĭ FILMMAKER AWARD

MATI DIOP

WINNER

ĥÈWWĚbDƧƀ FILM FESTIVAL

SPECIAL JURY MENTIONS FOR LƛÈĭ ŸbƀłƀĥĭLbƍ

NETFLIXGUILDS.COM

Untitled-8 1

11/19/19 3:57 PM


searched for the rare recorded interviews in order to study Ailes’ unexpectedly chipper Midwest accent. “Not a villainous voice at all,” says Lithgow with surprise. Lithgow’s Ailes is an indoor beast, a sexual harasser cushioned by carpet, money, enablers and his own thick padding. He seems to make the very air ripple with tension. Occasionally, he pounces, like when he chases Charlize Theron’s Megyn Kelly around his office, trying to pin her against the wall for a kiss. Usually, however, he’s unnervingly still. In the film’s most wrenching scene, he commands Margot Robbie’s Kayla—an amalgamation of the low-level lovelies forced to play nice, or else—to stand up and give him a twirl. Then he asks her to raise her skirt. Higher. No, higher. It’s a brutal, disorienting, headUNDER DURESS Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, with Lithgow as Ailes.

scrambling moment, both for

J

happened—and for the audience,

Kayla—who soon after stumbles out of the room unable to explain what who hears the ache in Ailes’ throat when he thanks her for the under-

OHN LITHGOW HAS ALWAYS BEEN HUNGRY FOR A CHALLENGE, playing a plethora of roles, from aliens to priests, to sitcom dads, murderers, millionaires, scientists, and schizophrenics. “I can walk down one block and people will recognize me for 10 different things,” he laughs at a bustling lunch spot in North Hollywood. It’s an unpredictable path that’s allowed him to pick up six Emmys, two Tonys and two Golden Globes.

Lately, however, Lithgow’s been

wear flash. Even Lithgow’s Ailes seems disturbed. He seems damp and miserable, aware that next to this bright, promising, potential TV anchor, he is, well, a monster. “It falls to me to emotionally explain how this would happen,” says Lithgow. “I imagined his heartbeat is speeding up for a lot of reasons,

I find that just delightful, very liberat-

in Jay Roach’s Bombshell that might

not just sexual arousal. He’s daring

hunting big game. Three years ago,

ing, because I’m shameless, com-

score the actor his third Oscar nomi-

himself to do something bad, and

he agreed to play Winston Churchill

pletely shameless,” grins Lithgow,

nation, and possibly his first win.

having shame mixed in with it even

on The Crown. Until then, he’d mostly

who says the political intensity of the

avoided playing real-life figures—he

last few years has “drawn me out of

rest of the mic-hoggers, Ailes himself

As the scene was written to be

didn’t see the fun in retelling a story

my shell a little bit”. Until 2016, he’d

isn’t well-known. He shied away from

sparse, with the emphasis on Ailes

audiences already knew. But Lithgow

never even publicly campaigned for—

the camera, preferring to let his proté-

and Kayla’s painful silence, Lithgow

was so chuffed to bring the British

or against—a presidential candidate.

gées be the public face of the network.

had to make each word carry extra

Bulldog to heel, psychoanalyzing

“I’m a Libra, hopelessly balancing

“He’s the troll under the bridge

weight. He added a mournful oboe

him as a weakened titan terrified of

everything on the scale, and then

in the fairy tale,” says Lithgow. “My

note to the way Ailes sighs, “You

failure, that he started gobbling up

BOOM!” he yelps, smacking his hand

sense of it is he was very self-con-

have a great body.”

powerful men. In the last year alone,

on the table. “Being an entertainer—

scious about how he looked.”

he’s played Bill Clinton on Broadway

sometimes a wacko comedy enter-

in Hillary and Clinton, Donald Trump

tainer—it’s kind of the best thing I

the 2012 comedy The Campaign,

victimized by it, that at least gives

in a staged reading of the Mueller

can do. My great heroes these days

and calls the director “a wonderful

the story more dimension than just

Report, and a rabbity, red wine-

are satirists because they’re better

detail man” who emboldened him

a tale of a bad man,” says Lithgow.

chugging Rudy Giuliani on The Late

than ever. Their claws are sharp.”

to go “whole hog” on the prosthet-

“My intention was to trouble people,

Show with Stephen Colbert, slurring

He admits he’s “always a little

ics, which were done by Kazuhiro

unsettle people with the fact that they shouldn’t have sympathy for the devil.”

Unlike Churchill, Clinton and the

Lithgow met Roach while filming

as it’s happening.”

“If you can think of Roger as the victim of his compulsion, and feeling

about the Bidens while howling that

uncomfortable” watching himself

Tsuji, the same artist who trans-

he’s the mayor of outer space.

in “grim and serious roles.” But it’s

formed Gary Oldman into Churchill

“The Rudy Giuliani shtick, just

Lithgow’s chilling supporting perfor-

for Darkest Hour. (Lithgow simply

and gender politics,” continues Lith-

outrageous self mockery and parody,

mance as Fox News CEO Roger Ailes

stuffed his jowls.) Then, Lithgow

gow. “I’m full of rage. But I’m in the

8

“I have my dander up on politics

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

1127 First Take - Opener.indd 8

11/22/19 12:21 PM


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

“SEARING AND ENLIGHTENING. BOTH A THRILLER AND EPIC.”

“COMPLETELY FASCINATING. AN EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT DIVE.”

NOMINEE

IDA DOCUMENTARY AWARDS BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY BEST DIRECTOR BEST WRITING

NOMINEE

GOTHAM INDEPENDENT F I L M AWA R D S BEST DOCUMENTARY

NOMINEE

CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY

NETFLIXGUILDS.COM

Untitled-9 1

11/20/19 4:11 PM


SECRETS REVEALED Lithgow with Connie Britton as Ailes’ wife Beth.

empathy business. Every role I play,

in astonishment. “There’s no denying

calypse”. Lithgow recites a bit of the

I’m on the side of the character.”

that he had his devotees, loyalists,

opening stanza. “Their right-wing

people who genuinely liked—if not

agendas all nicely align, Dumpty,

Not that it was easy to empathize with Ailes. Lithgow started by trying

loved—him.” With that knowledge,

to pinpoint his fears. “In every tyrant,

he treasures the scene where Ailes’

there’s that huge well of insecurity,”

wife Beth, played by Connie Britton,

he explains. He listened to a police

gently kisses his hand to comfort

recording of Harvey Weinstein whee-

the wounded CEO as the Murdoch

dling a woman into his hotel room

family repossesses the empire he

and was struck by how pathetic—

built. Confronting Rupert Murdoch’s

“almost whiny”—the studio boss

athletic Australian sons Lachlan and

sounded, “like it’s his injured dignity

James, as they offer him a platinum

that she’s saying no to.”

parachute to walk away from the

Finally, Lithgow tracked down an

network, Lithgow’s Ailes suddenly

HE’S THE TROLL UNDER THE BRIDGE IN THE FAIRYTALE. MY SENSE OF IT IS HE WAS VERY SELFCONSCIOUS ABOUT HOW HE LOOKED ”

Hannity, Murdoch and Shine.” “I’m telling a story that needs to be told,” he continues. He’s told lots of stories, of course, but when he looks over his long career, there are a few that feel especially resonant and necessary: the obtuse white seducer in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, the financially strained gay husband in Love Is Strange, and, of course, Roberta in The World Ac-

old mutual acquaintance who had

seems to shrink from a frightening

worked with Ailes in the ’70s, when

troll into a small and bitter septuage-

he was producing plays while serving

narian—a feat when you remember

as a Republican media consultant

that the 6’4” Lithgow is seven inches

clamoring with victims, zealots and

gender women saying, you have no

advising the campaigns of Rich-

taller than the actual man.

survivors, some of whom are all

idea what it’s like to go to a movie

three at once. It’s uncertain how the

and see a transgender woman

ard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The

“The stakes are so high—as they

cording to Garp, which earned him his first Oscar nomination. “I got the most poignant letters from trans-

former friend described a mercurial

are in Shakespeare—when there’s

people who still work in the building

played as something other than a

man with “a white hot temper” who

that much power to be wielded,”

will react to it, though they tend to

serial killer or a psychotic.”

was also tremendously funny. Says

says Lithgow. “To see him drummed

make their opinions known.

Lithgow, “In the course of a three-

out and the sons take such a plea-

“I say bring it on,” laughs Lithgow.

ripped-from-the-headlines roles is a

minute conversation, Ailes could be

sure in it is very poignant,” he adds.

“Judge me by my enemies.” Besides,

new shift, he’s always been political.

about five different things.”

“But he plays the power game, and

he’s already published his own

“It was my way of expressing my

the power game finally does turn

opinions in his recent best-selling

principles, I guess. My politics, my

around and crush him.”

book, Dumpty: The Age of Trump in

biases—expressing them in terms

Verse, which includes a poem called

of storytelling,” says Lithgow. “That

“The Four Horsemen of the Foxpo-

goes for playing villains, too.” ★

“He said no one tells the story of what wonderful company he was, what a boisterous sense of humor he had,” says Lithgow, eyebrows raised

10

Bombshell does feel like witnessing a building under attack, cubicles

Even though his current string of

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

1127 First Take - Opener.indd 10

11/22/19 12:21 PM


Untitled-8 1

11/19/19 3:56 PM


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 Actress races. Get up-to-date rankings and make your own predictions at GoldDerby.com

Dance Card

How Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score inspired a physical reaction from Joaquin Phoenix FEELING LIKE YOU’VE BEEN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING is not the standard experience for a composer, but that is how Hildur Guðnadóttir got to the heart of the Joker score. As she read the script and as she mused the film’s sounds, she says she felt “a lot of physical turbulence”, almost like electricity in her chest. “It was the strongest physical click that I’ve had between a script and music,” she says. “It was really like I just knew that this was him; I knew that this was his voice.” A classically-trained cellist, Guðnadóttir felt that instrument led her to the core of Arthur Fleck, the central character played by Joaquin Phoenix. “I thought it was really important to almost get inside his head,” she says. Guðnadóttir was not alone in her visceral experience of the score. In a balletic bathroom sequence, Phoenix sways to the music in a way that was unplanned. Director Todd Phillips played the score on set, and Phoenix reacted spontaneously. “It was absolutely mind-blowing,” Guðnadóttir says, “and so magical to see that what Joaquin was doing was so, so similar to what I had experienced physically.” What was especially valuable was having her intent realized without wordy explanation. “It was just mind-blowing to see how that communication could travel with so little speaking about it,” she says. “It was one of the most beautiful collaborative moments I think I’ve had.” —Matt Grobar

PIECE OF THE ACTION How Honey Boy production designer Jc Molina crafted a movie set borrowed from Shia LaBeouf’s own working life. 12

IMAGINE RECREATING A

a “big blockbuster feel” to this set,

blockbuster within an indie film.

Molina found its centerpiece in an old

That’s exactly what production

airplane. With this backdrop locked

designer Jc Molina had to do in Honey

in, the designer then worked “to get

Boy—a film based on the experiences

as many pieces of big scenery as we

of actor and writer Shia LaBeouf.

could—cars and stuff like that—and

Alma Har’el’s drama opens with a

just had a lot of fun throwing them

shot loosely inspired by Transformers,

around.” He also brought in a lot of

in which Otis (Lucas Hedges) is

science fiction set pieces, “to make

thrown violently backward on cables.

it feel a little less Mad Max, and more

Recognizing that he needed to bring

like a high-end film.” —Matt Grobar

ODDS

1

Renée Zellweger Judy

2

Scarlett Johansson Marriage Story

9/2

3

Charlize Theron Bombshell

5/1

4

Saoirse Ronan Little Women

11/2

5

Awkwafina The Farewell

19/2

6

Cynthia Erivo Harriet

16/1

7

Alfre Woodard Clemency

22/1

8

Lupita Nyong’o Us

25/1

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

82/25

ODDS

1

Laura Dern Marriage Story

7/2

2

Jennifer Lopez Hustlers

11/2

3

Margot Robbie Bombshell

13/2

4

Annette Bening The Report

15/2

5

Shuzhen Zhou The Farewell

11/1

6

Florence Pugh Little Women

12/1

7

Scarlett Johansson Jojo Rabbit

16/1

8

Da’Vine Joy Randolph Dolemite Is My Name

30/1

SCI-FI SCENE The blockbuster set within indie film Honey Boy.

RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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

1127 - First Take - Short Items.indd 12

11/22/19 12:22 PM


O

R

Y

O

U

R

C

O

N

S

I

D

E

R

A

T

I

O

N

KWAKU ALSTON FOR foureleven.agency

F

B E S T

O R I G I N A L

S O N G

“I’M S TA N D I N G W I T H Y O U” Music and Lyrics by DIANE WARREN Performed by CHRISSY METZ

Untitled-10 1

11/19/19 3:22 PM


FUNNY GIRL Butters and Quentin Tarantino on the set of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.

Fresh Face BY DAMO N WI SE

WHY

went into a special ed class and it

Butters started very, very young. First,

really helped her out,” she says. “Now

Age: 10

she was a baby model. “Then I started

she wants to be a popular kid, so she

Hometown: Los Angeles

doing commercials. People would

gets her ears pierced and stuff. She’s

always say, ‘She’s good at taking

just trying to be the cool kid.”

WHAT

direction, you should maybe have

WHEN & WHERE

At 10 years old, Butters is too young to have seen any of Quentin Tarantino’s

her do something [more serious].’”

movies and has only seen fragments of his latest, Once Upon a Time… in

Her parents found her an agent, and

A big comedy buff who dressed up as

Hollywood, in which she plays Leonardo DiCaprio’s precocious TV co-star

a family friend wrote Butters into an

her heroine Lucille Ball for Halloween,

Trudi. “I didn’t know a thing about Quentin,” she says. Tarantino first noticed

episode of FBI show Criminal Minds.

Butters cites Jack Black, Will Ferrell and

Butters while scrolling through channels on his TV set, catching sight of her

“After that, I said, ‘I really want to

Carol Burnett among her inspirations.

in American Housewife, in which she plays youngest daughter Anna-Kat.

do that again,’” she says. “I was four

Surprisingly, though, she doesn’t have

To get her ready for the Tarantino-verse, Butters’ parents put together a

years old.” More television work

anything immediately lined up. “After

G-rated clip reel including dialogue-only scenes from Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction,

followed, including a recurring part in

the show finishes, I feel like that’ll open

“to get the style and the pace,” she says. That homework paid off, and she

Transparent, before Butters landed

up more windows for movies and

held her own against DiCaprio. Was she starstruck? “I didn’t know who he

the part of Anna-Kat in 2016. Butters

stuff,” she says. “Right now, though, I

was,” she shrugs. “I hadn’t watched any of his movies, I just knew that he

speaks fondly about her TV character.

don’t have anything planned except

was well known. For all I knew, he was Leonardo da Vinci.”

“She used to have OCD, and then she

the show.” ★

14

RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK

WHO Julia Butters

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

1127 - First Take - Fresh Face.indd 14

11/22/19 12:23 PM


Untitled-14 1

11/20/19 4:41 PM


Season 3 is not off the table

Kidman can’t confirm a third season, but says if there is to be more, it’s entirely in the hands of nov-

elist Liane Moriarty and the show’s creator David E. Kelley. “We’ll see if they’re ignited into building a life for these women, and where they would go next,” Kidman says. “Liane is deeply talented, David is deeply talented, and the combination of them is

Fast Facts: Nicole Kidman Big Little Lies’ possible Season 3, slapping Meryl Streep in the face and reuniting with Liane Moriarty

extraordinary. So, where they would take it, I have no idea.”

Something new is coming for Big Little Lies fans Moriarty and Kidman—with her production company Blossom Films—are reuniting to

BY A N TO NI A BLYTH PHOTO G RAPH BY JOSH TELLES

make Nine Perfect Strangers, which begins shooting in the spring. And Kidman, who will also star in the show, says it will certainly

Celeste’s story may not be over yet

got her essence,” she says, “and it’s got that

While Kidman’s character Celeste has made strides in recov-

put into an entertaining package. But there’s

ering from her husband’s abuse and his subsequent death,

depth to it that I think is surprising. And it’s

Kidman believes there’s more to that trajectory. “The process

so different to me, the character, which was

can be very, very slow, and requires an enormous amount of

what was appealing.” ★

unearthing things and digging around and revealing,” she says. “Celeste is nowhere near healed. That would have been ridiculous to have portrayed it that way.”

Slapping Meryl Streep in Season 2 wasn’t choreographed It took skill and experience to pull off that infamous scene where Celeste snaps and slaps the face of her mother-in-law (Meryl Streep). “I mean, I’m a lot taller than Meryl, and I was scared,” Kidman says. “I was terrified of hurting her, but it comes out and it’s quick and we didn’t plan it, we didn’t choreograph it, really. We’ve both worked for so long that we know how to do those things.”

16

incredible topical truth that she’s able to

RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK ; M E R IE W. WA LL AC E /H BO ; J EN N I F ER C LAS E N /H BO

have that Moriarty magic to it. “I feel like it’s

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

1127 - First Take - Featured.indd 16

11/22/19 12:24 PM


THE

PODCAST

WWW.DEADLINE.COM

1113 - First Take - Art of Craft.indd 17

11/22/19 1:00 PM


THE GREAT HACK

APOLLO 11

What’s Up Doc? From Syrian horrors to space travel to saving a species, here are this year’s documentary Oscar contenders SEA OF SHADOWS

BY MATTHEW CAREY

DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD are orbiting the Academy Awards, hoping voters gravitate toward their work. Apollo 11, perhaps more than any other nonfiction

The film, directed by Todd Douglas

acclaim since its world premiere at the Toronto International

Miller, about the 1969 NASA mis-

Film Festival. It won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, along

sion that landed the first men on

with honors at festivals in the U.S. and Europe. Fayyad, a

the moon, won five Critics’ Choice

Syrian native who was detained and tortured by the Assad

Documentary Awards, including Best

regime during the early years of the civil war, earned an Oscar

Documentary Feature.

nomination for his 2017 film, Last Men in Aleppo.

“Every day working on it, it was

“I didn’t expect the film would be a partnership with

film this year, appears to be on a flight path

just a treat to get into a time ma-

National Geographic because of the attacks on Last Men in

towards the Oscars, having been nominated

chine,” Miller said at an IDA screening

Aleppo [by pro-Assad and pro-Russian agents],” Fayyad says.

in September. Between playdates

“But when we met with the National Geographic people…

on IMAX screens and at regular the-

they were like, ‘The story of Amani is really important.’”

for every major nonfiction film award so far, from the IDA Documentary Awards to the Cinema Eye Honors.

aters, Apollo 11 made an impressive

has moved audiences with its story of Hatidze, a remarkable

point in its Academy claim.

woman in North Macedonia who tends to her aged mother in

Apollo 11 aside, many of the strongest contenders for Oscar recognition this year share an international focus. For Sama, directed by Waad Al-

a hut with no electricity, while supporting herself by cultivating honey from wild bees. “It’s a real-life story but it has a strong environmental

Khateab and Edward Watts, tells the story of Al-Khateab’s

message,” Stefanov says. Kotevska adds, “You can say it’s

struggle to raise her baby daughter in the midst of Syria’s

a story about humanity. That’s the easiest and the best

brutal civil war. It’s won a slew of awards, including the

way to put it.”

Golden Eye prize for best documentary at the Cannes Film

Honeyland has won numerous awards at international

Festival, and the Audience and Grand Jury awards at SXSW,

film festivals, including in Mumbai, Barcelona, Tel Aviv,

where the film premiered in March.

St. Petersburg (Russia) and at Sundance, where the film

“I was really shocked how people really care about the film and the story,” Al-Khateab says. “When we were at SXSW we

premiered in January. Debuting at Sundance often gives films a leg-up in the

never thought we would win... It gives you a lot of hope that

Oscar documentary race. Three of the five Best Docu-

people want to do something [about Syria].”

mentary Feature nominees last February premiered at

From National Geographic comes Feras Fayyad’s The

18

Honeyland, by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska,

$9 million in the U.S.—another data

the festival, and a fourth—Of Fathers and Sons—held its

Cave, about Dr. Amani Ballour, a female physician trying to

North American premiere there. If that pattern holds true

save wounded civilians in Syria while contending with her

this time around, it will be good news not only for Apollo

society’s ingrained sexism. The film has earned widespread

11 and Honeyland, but several other documentaries,

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

1127 - First Take - Documentary.indd 18

11/22/19 12:27 PM


ing towards dictator-

and Bannon. For a year or more that

ship. The documen-

film struggled to find a distributor,

tary also speaks to

despite Morris’ pedigree.

circumstances well

tor Alex Gibney has qualified two

of Brazil.

films for Oscar consideration this

“I really hope that

THE CAVE

in Silicon Valley, about the dis-

talking about what

graced Theranos entrepreneur

are fundamental

Elizabeth Holmes, and Citizen K, a

values of democracy,”

film about Mikhail Khodorkovsky,

Costa says, “and what

a Russian oligarch who made a

are the norms that

fortune but later fell out of favor with

need to be respected

Vladimir Putin. much as kind of a dissident in exile,

long I took democ-

finding ways to challenge the cur-

racy for granted, and

rent regime,” Gibney says. “It struck

my greatest learning

me that his story would be a very

process making this

interesting way of talking [about]

film is that I cannot

how power works in Russia.”

The recent pris-

Child Nation. The latter film, directed by Nanfu

The film enjoys the strong backing of Netflix, and the added appeal of being executive produced by Pres-

“[Khodorkovsky] works very

thrive… I think for too

do that anymore.”

including American Factory and One

year: The Inventor: Out for Blood

the film can get us

for democracy to

HONEYLAND

Prolific Oscar-winning direc-

beyond the borders

Character-driven documentaries generally find the most favor with

on release of Brazil’s

Oscar voters, like Free Solo, which

former President

centered on audacious mountain

Luiz Inácio Lula da

climber Alex Honnold. Character-

Silva, an important

driven contenders this year include

figure in The Edge

Lauren Greenfield’s The Kingmaker,

of Democracy, will

about former Philippines first lady

help keep Costa’s film at the top

Imelda Marcos, Cunningham, a 3D

of people’s minds.

documentary about choreographer

National Geographic, another

Merce Cunningham directed by

Wang and Jialing Zhang, investigates

ident Obama and Michelle Obama

entity which supports its documen-

Alla Kovgan, and Advocate, a film

the shocking way China allegedly

through their company Higher

taries with considerable promotion

about controversial Israeli human

enforced its ‘one child’ policy from

Ground Productions.

spending, pins its hopes not only

rights lawyer Lea Tsemel, who has

1979-2015. The tactics, according to

“We’re excited to be working

on The Cave but also on Sea of Shad-

defended Palestinians accused of

the filmmakers, included infanticide,

with them because Higher Ground

ows, directed by Richard Ladkani. Sea

launching attacks on Israel.

forced abortions and sterilizations.

is going to be making fiction and

of Shadows is a documentary thriller

Wang grew up in China but has

Hit documentaries The Biggest

nonfiction media, films, TV shows

about the desperate effort to save

Little Farm, directed by John Chester,

since made two films critical of

for Netflix and with Netflix for years

the last remaining vaquita, a cute

and Maiden, from director Alex

the Chinese government, including

to come,” Bognar says. “It’s a great

dolphin-like creature driven to near-

Holmes could leverage their box of-

2016’s Hooligan Sparrow, which was

honor that we’re their first release.”

extinction by illegal fishing in the Sea

fice success into Oscar recognition.

shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

Netflix, always a formidable

of Cortez in Baja Mexico. Environmen-

Two films with midnight in the title—

“Even when I was a child I heard

contender in the Oscar doc com-

tal champion Leonardo DiCaprio is an

Midnight Family, directed by Luke

about the forced abortions, forced

petition because of the quality of

executive producer.

Lorentzen, and Midnight Traveler by

sterilizations,” she recalls. “Like steril-

its slate and the streamer’s ample

“Without [DiCaprio] we would

ization was so common…that I never

promotion budgets, is also home

have never made the film. He brought

for a number of pre-Oscar awards

even questioned or really understood

to The Great Hack, directed by Karim

the topic to us,” Ladkani reveals. “This

and could make the shortlist.

what that was about.”

Amer and Jehane Noujaim. It also

was a movie made so we save a spe-

has Knock Down the House, direc-

cies. And this is our goal.”

A Chinese billionaire entrepreneur

Also of note are two films about

Hassan Fazili—have been nominated

Asif Kapadia, winner of the 2016 Best Documentary Oscar for Amy,

is one of the main characters in Ameri-

tor Rachel Lears’ film on insurgent

can Factory, directed by Steven Bognar

Democratic women candidates in

former White House adviser and

his film about late singer Amy Winehouse, could factor in the Academy

and Julia Reichert. The filmmakers

the 2018 primaries—including Alex-

Trump campaign CEO Steve Ban-

Awards with Diego Maradona—his

focus on an abandoned GM plant in

andria Ocasio-Cortez—who fought

non. The Brink, directed by Alison Klay-

portrait of the Argentinian soccer

Ohio (the very one from their Oscar-

to unseat entrenched incumbents.

man, takes a more vérité approach to

star who was brilliant on the field

nominated short doc The Last Truck)

In addition, there’s Netflix’s The

exploring Bannon’s influence on right-

and troubled off it.

where the Fuyao corporation opened

Edge of Democracy, both a personal

wing populist movements around the

up an auto glass factory, testing the

film, and the story of an entire coun-

world. American Dharma, directed by

of Maradona’s life. “So much chaos.”

“So much drama,” Kapadia says

ability of American and Chinese work-

try—director Petra Costa’s native

doc legend Errol Morris, is based on

A bit like the Oscar documentary

ers to collaborate successfully.

Brazil, which she fears is backpedal-

interviews between the filmmaker

race in general. ★

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

1127 - First Take - Documentary.indd 19

19

11/22/19 12:28 PM


Ruth E. Carter Carter’s starting point on Craig Brewer’s film was watching all four Dolemite films to get a sense of the custom work in every costume. Carter pursued an “uber-realistic” portrait of Rudy Ray Moore’s world, while the character of Dolemite was inspired by “fictitious Hollywood pimp films” of the ’70s.

The Art of Craft For Dolemite Is My Name and Rocketman, costume designers Ruth E. Carter and Julian Day both recreated looks for real-life icons already famed for costumed alter-egos.

What Carter saw in Moore’s handcrafted, “dandy” looks was an ingenuity and personality reflective of the “urban flare” of his time. Carter had tailors all around Los Angeles making clothes for Eddie Murphy’s Dolemite, grabbing huge quantities of ’70s fabrics from LA store International Silks & Woolens. Carter ensured Murphy’s comfort by de-

BY M AT T G ROBAR

veloping a platform shoe for him made from

CONCE PT ART BY C H RI ST I AN CORD ELLA & DAR R ELL WAR NER

Adidas sneakers.

Dolemite Is My Name Fashion-Forward Filmmaker

75

costume changes for Eddie Murphy 20

47

bolts of ’70s fabric used to create Murphy’s costumes

34

fittings with Dolemite’s principals

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

1127 - First Take - Art of Craft.indd 20

11/22/19 12:29 PM


Julian Day In preparation, Rocketman’s Julian Day was given access to Elton John’s personal archive of his ’70s and ’80s costumes. Day approached Rocketman as a pure, musical fantasy, allowing for some “totally outrageous and fantastical” work. What Day sought to capture with Rocketman was both the sheer exuberance and excess of John’s world, and the alienation he felt from those closest to him. Day had to have a large costume truck on hand entirely for John’s clothes, since the film was such a “huge, mammoth job”. Taron Egerton went through a dozen fittings for the Queen Elizabeth costume pictured, but still, Day made constant adaptations, to create a perfect, moveable fit.

Rocketman Elton’s Idiosyncratic Apparel

600

archival photographs of Elton John looked at in prep

80

pairs of glasses created or sourced for actor Taron Egerton

1,000,000

Swarovski crystals attached as embellishment for Elton’s costumes

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

1127 - First Take - Art of Craft.indd 21

21

11/22/19 12:29 PM


PARASITE

MONOS

International Affair The runners and riders in the newly-renamed International Feature Film race BY NANCY TARTAGLIONE

WEATHERING WITH YOU

CHANGE IS AFOOT IN THE OSCARS’ FOREIGN LANGUAGE RACE THIS YEAR, and not only

There has been controversy,

to be advanced to the shortlist. But Parasite’s success

though, about the name switch-

could potentially mean it’ll score nominations outside of

from Best Foreign Language

International Feature too.

Film, because the rules of eli-

The same goes for Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain & Glory.

gibility haven’t changed. When

This is the Spanish maestro’s seventh time represent-

the list of official submissions

ing his native land. He received his first Oscar nomina-

was released in early October,

tion in this field with 1988’s Women on the Verge of a

it included 93 films, which were

Nervous Breakdown. He won with 1999’s All About My

then pared down by the expul-

Mother and made the shortlist with 2006’s Volver. He

sion of Austria’s Joy and Nige-

also won an Original Screenplay Oscar for Talk to Her

will choose from a shortlist that has been

ria’s Lionheart, because they

in 2003, for which he was likewise in the Best Director

upped to 10 from the traditional nine, seven of

have predominantly English-

race, even though the movie was not Spain’s Foreign

language dialogue tracks.

Language submission.

because the title of the category was switched to Best International Feature Film. For the first time, all eligible Academy members will be able to vote for the final five nominees. They

which will now be selected by the committee currently viewing all entries, along with three “saves” selected by the executive committee.

So, we now have 91 features

Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor has strong buzz. The ma-

another hotly contested year

fia drama tells the story of an informant in Sicily in the

that includes some titles making

1980s and it comes from the country that has scored

a lot of change (in the mon-

the most wins in this category.

etary sense) along with veteran filmmakers and, as the category often fosters, some promising newcomers. Among the frontrunners this year is Korea’s Parasite

22

Flying the flag for Italy for the third time since 1967,

vying for the coveted statue in

From a veteran filmmaker who has never repped his country, Norway, Hans Petter Moland’s Out Stealing Horses is another one to watch, as is Corneliu Porumboiu’s crime comedy The Whistlers from Romania.

from Bong Joon-ho, a two-time representative for the

He has been the submission from Romania before,

country. The winner of the Palme d’Or in Cannes last

though the country has never won.

May, Parasite has been an outsized success at the box

France has a real contender in Jury Prize winner Les

office around the world. But Korea has never received

Misérables from Ladj Ly. Ly, like Hungary’s Oscar winner

a nomination at the Oscars despite having one of the

László Nemes before him, was a laureate at Cannes

richest and most sophisticated home-grown industries.

and also a rare first-time feature filmmaker to be in

Lee Chang-dong’s Burning last year was only the first

competition there. Les Misérables is a contemporary

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

1127 - First Take - International.indd 22

11/22/19 12:29 PM


THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND

PAIN & GLORY

OUT STEALING HORSES

and timely look at strife between

university student who refuses to

the police and the denizens of the

let the tragic events of the Algerian

Parisian suburb where Victor Hugo’s

Civil War keep her from experiencing

Alejandro Landes’ war drama Monos

for demonstrating an advancement

classic novel was partly set.

a normal life. As the social climate

debuted in Sundance and marks

in style and storytelling.

becomes more conservative, she

the director’s first time repping

tory in Cannes this year with her de-

rejects the new bans set by the

Colombia, which has never won an

animation, Japan has entered

but feature Atlantics, becoming the

radicals and decides to fight for her

Oscar but has advanced recently to a

Weathering with You. At $155m and

first Black woman to be selected in

freedom and independence by put-

nomination and a shortlist slot. Saudi

counting, this is writer/director Ma-

Competition. Atlantics is a super-

ting on a fashion show.

Arabia’s The Perfect Candidate comes

koto Shinkai’s follow-up to another

from Haifaa Al-Mansour, who made

fantasy romance, 2016’s blockbuster

by a country are not always in that

history in 2012 with Wadjda when she

Your Name. Japan boasts several

Senegal’s Mati Diop made his-

natural romantic drama that won the Grand Prize at the festival. Kantemir Balagov’s sophomore

As with other years, films selected

water to his famine-struck village. Hailing from other festivals,

eled title that didn’t move the needle elsewhere, Ne Zha has been praised

A country known for its rich

nation’s official language. Such is the

became the first filmmaker to have a

nominations but has won the Oscar

feature Beanpole is another to keep

case with César Diaz’s Our Moth-

movie submitted from the Kingdom.

only once in this category.

an eye on. The Russian film follows

ers, a Spanish-language drama set

She is also the first female Saudi

two young women as they search for

in Guatemala that won the Camera

helmer. Both titles debuted in Venice.

meaning and hope in the struggle to

d’Or in Cannes, and Sweden’s And

Others to watch include Barn-

December 16. After that, the final five

rebuild their lives among the post-

Then We Danced. The latter is from

abás Tóth’s post-WWII drama Those

nominees will be decided by all eligi-

siege ruins of World War II-devas-

director Levan Akin who is Swedish

Who Remained from Hungary (which

ble Academy members. This is con-

tated Leningrad. It was presented in

by birth but with Georgian ancestry.

has a solid record at the Oscars) and

trary to the past several years, when

Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, where

The LBGTQ-themed drama has been

Iceland’s A White, White Day from

a small, specially curated group of

Balagov won Best Director.

rapturously praised, and also recently

Hlynur Pálmason.

heavyweight filmmakers and actors

A contender that narrowly avoided being edged out, Papicha from Mounia Meddour received dis-

made headlines when demonstrators in Tbilisi protested the movie. Chiwetel Ejiofor is repping the U.K.

The International Feature Film shortlist is due to be announced on

Turning back to box office

gathered to watch the semifinal-

champs, there are two animated

ists together over the course of a

Asian titles in this mix. China’s Ne Zha

weekend. AMPAS has endeavored

pensation from the Academy when

with his directorial debut, The Boy

was a mega-hit this summer with

to become a more global organiza-

its local September release was can-

Who Harnessed the Wind, which is

over $700m in its home market. Chi-

tion, and thanks to a new streaming

celled by the Algerian government.

based on a true story and chronicles

na recently submitted another major

platform making access to the films

The 1990s-set story, which debuted

the efforts of a 13-year-old boy in Ma-

money maker, 2017’s Wolf Warrior 2,

easier than ever, voters around the

in Un Certain Regard, focuses on a

lawi as he develops a method to bring

but while that was a propaganda-fu-

world can see their voices count. ★

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

1127 - First Take - International.indd 23

23

11/22/19 12:30 PM


Taika Waititi

With the quirky Nazi comedy Jojo Rabbit, and an upcoming football film, the auteur discusses his film favorites and future goals BY DAMON W IS E PHOTOGRA P H BY V IOLE TA SOFIA

EVEN HARD-TO-PLEASE MARVEL FANS LOVED WHAT KIWI

outsider Taika Waititi brought to Thor: Ragnarok—a joyously irreverent approach to the comic book character, that married a keen eye for the absurd with an emotional and affectionate grounding. Waititi’s long-term admirers felt vindicated; the director of such wonderfully low-fi New Zealand-set gems as the literally batty 2014 vampire docu-comedy What We Do in the Shadows and 2016’s charming Hunt for the Wilderpeople, about a boy on the run with his foster father, proved that he could stamp his identity on a film costing $180m as easily as he could with one costing $1.8m. His latest, Jojo Rabbit, is an incredibly timely attempt to unpick the sudden rise of religious and racial intolerance across the globe, as seen through the eyes of a naïve young German boy.

MY FIRST FILM LESSON Don’t listen to other people. When you’re first starting out, you’ve got to figure out your own voice, and find out what’s different about the way that you want to tell stories… On my first film, Two Cars, One Night, people who’d made a lot of films before would tell me that certain shots would be better this way, and certain edits would be better that way—and they were wrong. It wasn’t my style. My instincts were to go another way, but because I’d never made anything before, I didn’t know whether my stuff would work—I just had an idea in my head of what it could be like. And the more I learned about the filming process, the more I realised that all of those ideas would have worked. So I stopped listening to other people from then on.

THE BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED I think you can imagine what my answer’s going to be. The thing I’ve come to realize is that no one really knows anything. It’s just all a big charade. You just have to be convincing. When you’re on set, you have to show no weakness, you have to really protect yourself, because if the crew smells weakness it can derail the whole thing. The aspect of directing I find really funny is that often you make decisions just because you don’t want to be seen to not know what you’re doing.

24

THE ROLE I’D KILL FOR I want to play a doctor. All my parts are based on me thinking, What have I not I done yet? I know: a vampire. I like things like M*A*S*H. I love the scenes where they’re standing around an operating table, talking. I just like the idea of classic costumes, like a police outfit or a doctor’s outfit. A sexy librarian—that’d be something I’d be quite good at. I’d have a pencil behind my ear and some horn-rimmed glasses. Someone would bring in a book, and I’d say, “It’s late!!!!” They’d say, “But I don’t how to pay my late fees.” And I’d say, [seductively] “I think I can come up with an idea.”

THE THEMES I RETURN TO It’s not really a stretch to see that usually my films are about family and abandonment, and children’s relationships to the adult world. I don’t particularly care very much about working with children or exploring those things, but I guess it’s the only thing I know now. The thing that draws me to family stories is the dynamic within families. It’s always inspired me, because within the family system there are heroes and villains, and there’s suspense, drama and comedy. Every part of humanity can be seen and experienced within a family unit. I’ve only ever really hung out with my family and best friends, so I’ve been very observant of behavior within the family unit.

THE MOST FUN I’VE HAD ON SET The most I’ve laughed on set was doing What We Do in the Shadows, because it was just me and my friends fooling around, just coming up with ideas and jokes, improvising. The film I’m shooting right now is a lot like that. It’s called Next Goal Wins. It’s a film about football that I’m making with Michael Fassbender. Every day is a joy. On all my films, I love coming to work. But this one in particular. Maybe because I’m shooting in Hawaii. The crew are really into it—they care about the characters and the story. On some films they’re just there for the paycheck— they haven’t read the script at all.

MY DREAM PROJECT I like making films about things I don’t really care about. Like, I was never really that into vampires, so maybe that’s why that film was good. I don’t really like soccer, but I’m making a soccer film right now. So maybe I’d do a musical. I don’t really get that excited about musicals. It would force me to try to understand why people like musicals. When I was growing up, musicals were quite a white style of filmmaking. So maybe an indigenous musical would be cool.

THE FILMS THAT MAKE ME CRY Kramer vs. Kramer, E.T.… You know, it’s true what they say about crying on planes—that you cry easier because of the oxygen and the altitude. When I’m flying, I could probably see the new Jumanji and cry at that.

DESERT ISLAND MOVIES Master and Commander. That’s not a joke. I love that movie. I love Peter Weir. He’s the master of the zoom. I call him The Zoom Master—I use zooms often in my films. The Graduate. How many am I allowed? Five? OK, Stalker by Tarkovsky, E.T. and Jaws. Jaws in particular, to remind me not to try to swim off the island.

MY KARAOKE PLAYLIST My karaoke playlist is pretty small. It’s Prince songs, and then it’s Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”.

WHO’D PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC Me. Has there ever been a biopic where a person has played themselves? That would be a weird ego boost, to write, direct and star in your own biopic. It’s a bit creepy, but I quite like it. I don’t know. Who looks like me? Russell Crowe. I want Russell Crowe to play me. ★

RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK

On My Screen:

MY TOUGHEST ROLE YET Well, it wasn’t Hitler in Jojo Rabbit. The hardest part about playing that character was just having to dress up like that and put a moustache on my face. It wasn’t an authentic representation, it was just a goofy, ridiculous character who dressed like Hitler. He doesn’t share any of Hitler’s real qualities. So that took the pressure off myself and made it easier. Maybe the hardest character for me was the character I played in Boy, which was the main character’s father. He was based on a bunch of people I’d grown up with. For me, it’s the most personal of my films. It was hard to capture that kind of character. He’s a shitty father, a tragic character, and yet you cared about him.

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

1127 - First Take - On My Screen.indd 24

11/22/19 12:31 PM


VIDEO SERIES

THE ACTOR’S SIDE Intriguing one-on-one conversations between Deadline’s awards editor and leading actors of film & television

WATC H N OW AT

DEADLINE.COM/VIDEO

1127 - HOUSE ADs.indd 25

11/22/19 12:44 PM


Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, arguably two of the greatest actors ever to come out of the British Isles, have surprisingly only worked together once before. The two Welshmen collaborated on a special one-night production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood in the presence of Prince Charles in December 1992. But as they gather to discuss their latest collaboration on The Two Popes, Hopkins has to remind Pryce that he had directed Pryce’s work in the show. Why has it taken them this long to find a pair of roles—one German and one Argentinian Pope—that brought them together in a major way? Perhaps it was divine intervention. In Anthony McCarten’s delectably literate and entertaining

Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins shine in

screenplay, The Two Popes, directed with

Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes, based on

style and grit by Fernando Meirelles, they

Anthony McCarten’s original screenplay. As the film tells its narrative of an imagined discussion between Pope Benedict and his eventual successor Pope Francis, it offers fertile ground for a two-hander acting masterclass delivered by a pair of British legends who remain at the top of their profession. Pete Hammond meets them to discuss the film, and the essential questions its debate raises.

both get to roll off dialogue that would be the envy of any actor, and both have landed deserved Oscar buzz ever since the Netflix movie premiered in Telluride over Labor Day. The film imagines what might have been said behind closed doors during three known encounters between Cardinal Bergoglio—the soon-to-be Pope Francis, played by Pryce— and Pope Benedict (Hopkins) before the latter abdicated from the Papacy. It is the first such instance of two popes living at the same time in some 700 years. As the men come to know one another, their differences

P H OTO G RA P H S BY JOSH TELLES 26

lead to spirited debate, as they strive to find a common spirituality.

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

1127 - Cover Story.indd 26

11/22/19 12:33 PM


1127 - Cover Story.indd 27

11/22/19 12:33 PM


F

or two guys from Wales, growing

I’m not a judge of writers, but it was not heavy.

you what…” so I improvised all the modern stuff I know.

up to be Pope seems like a pretty

There was talk of ecclesiastical stuff, but I liked it,

And I was a bit nervous about that. I told him the story

good trajectory. It must be daunt-

and I’m fascinated by the fact that he was German,

about the priest and he said, “Yeah, that’s good.”

ing to play a Pope, since they’re

because Germany had a tremendous amount of

so visible, so known around the

guilt for years. I thought, everyone judges everyone.

it? When an actor says, “Can I rewrite your thing?”

world. So, what was your reaction when this

Nobody has any conversation anymore. What I liked

It’s, “Come on, are you a writer?” I’m not. But you

project came to you?

about him was this kind of isolation that I myself

know, you can push a few buttons here and there.

Jonathan Pryce: My agent called me and said,

experience. I’m not a very touchy-feely person, and

Pryce: You said, “I want to play a bit of Smetana,”

“You’ve been offered the role of Pope Francis,” and

I’m a little reserved, and I mind my own business. I

and so he played Smetana. And then Fernando said

I said, “God, I don’t want to do that.” I was quite re-

thought, I can really get this man.

they went to get clearance for Smetana, the music,

luctant to even think about it. And then, I could see

I’ll tell you a quick story, if I may. I was in Rome

But no, I think when you get a script, why rewrite

and they discovered this piece of music didn’t exist

what a good script it was, and a great story; even if

in 1984 with Bob Hoskins, and there’s this old man,

this hadn’t been a living person, if it was a work of

and he’s a priest in the Vatican. He’s Austrian. He

and it was him [Hopkins]. He’d written it.

fiction, it would still be a great story.

recognizes me in the hotel and says, “I want to buy

You had written it? So, they just needed to

you coffee.” So, we went and had coffee. And he

clear it with you?

when I was told Fernando Meirelles was direct-

said, “What troubles you?” He was very jolly. An old

Hopkins: I could have charged a lot of money for that.

ing it, I felt this was not going to be a biopic, it was

man. He’s obviously dead now, he would be 120, it

Pryce: Yeah, he only did it for residuals [laughs].

going to have a great energy and a life to it that he

was 1984. He said, “You have a faith? You believe in

brought to his other films, City of God being one of

God?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “You shouldn’t

You did a score for a movie—August.

my favorites. And then they were looking for a good

be so discontented, young man. I’ll tell you some-

Hopkins: I have fun with it.

actor to play [Benedict]. They looked all over the

thing. When I went through a dark night of sorrows,

world to find somebody. It was offered to all kinds

I suffered a loss of my faith. And one day, I was here,

For me what came up, watching this, was you

of people [laughs]. And finally, we have to make do

on the Spanish Steps, and I saw all these people,

both made these popes so human and people

with this South Wales actor, [Anthony Hopkins].

these pretty girls and everything.” For a priest to say

we can identify with.

that... He said, “And I thought, that’s God, so you

Hopkins: Well, from my point of view, I’m not like

confident that it was something I wanted to do,

must enjoy your life. I’ll tell you one thing, my friend. I

Ratzinger, but, in this script, what I got and sym-

plus my respect and admiration for Pope Francis. I

may never see you again, but one day you will come

pathized with [as] the root cause, was his terrible

mean I’m not a Catholic, but I respected him as a

back to Rome and you will be in for a big surprise.”

loneliness. Because he is a man of the Church, he’s a

politician and a world leader.

And it only occurred to me five days ago.

man of conservative values, and the structure of the

And then, you read it, it’s quite a dry read. But

So, that whole package made me feel very

You know, memory is selective. We shut out

Church—that doesn’t make him evil. He just believes

Didn’t they ask you to do Pope Francis right as

most of our lives. We don’t know how we get here

in what he believes: Structure. And that causes a

he became Pope?

at all, to know what our journey is around, to be

tremendous loneliness. And then this young Marxist

Pryce: The day he was created Pope. There was a

very touchy-feely about it and ‘la la land’. I suddenly

comes in, this guy from the streets, I don’t trust him.

call from Argentina and they came from Argentina

thought, My God. I don’t put any great significance

And I think, Well, he seems all right. I mean, he likes

to meet me. And I think they decided I wasn’t quite

on that, but it is peculiar.

football, I don’t know anything about football, but...

there yet. I think they thought I wasn’t quite the caliber of religiosity that they wanted.

It was a very easy role for me to play. I’d have

And I thought, That’s the crucial point in thinking

to play an old man, and I am an old man [laughs].

that Ratzinger is not an iron-clad conservative, he’s

I know he had bad legs, and I have bad legs, and I

just an old man who’s lonely in the Church. Maybe any

You look like him. It’s all over the internet.

have a bad back. So, working with Jon and then go-

wise man, any older man, would say, “There must be

Pryce: Well that was the day he was announced.

ing into the scene in the Sistine Chapel, I really did

My photograph was next to his, and even one of my

have to deal with getting up the steps. So, it was no

sons called me and said, “Dad, are you the Pope?”

big stretch for me.

So, the seeds were laid then.

I do like to know the lines so well, and I had to learn Latin and Italian, but because I was such a

Anthony, you played Benedict, a wildly differ-

duffer at school, I’ve got this obsession of, I’ve got

ent kind of Pope. Did you pay much attention

to know, I’ve got to know, and that’s my one control

before? Did you like him?

factor, I guess. I’ve got to know my lines. So, it was

Anthony Hopkins: No, I’m not an avid reader of

very easy just knowing the dialogue, and we did

the news in the last few years, so I didn’t know. And

this first scene in the garden together, where I had

I never do research. I used to when I was younger. I

to stumble about in Latin a bit, but I enjoyed it. I

was having breakfast with the writer of The Father,

enjoyed the challenge of learning a bit of Latin, a bit

and my agent happened to join us. I was very

of Italian, and then to be in Rome.

keen to do this thing called The Father, which I did eventually do. My agent said, “They’ve offered you

You’d worked with Fernando Meirelles in 360.

the Pope, Ratzinger.” Well I knew of Ratzinger, and

Does he go for improvisation? It’s such a

I knew he’d resigned, and he was German. He said,

beautifully written script, but did he encourage

“What do you think?” I said, “Well, fine, send the

anything like that?

script.” So, they sent the script.

Hopkins: He’s very generous. I mean, he asked me

What I gathered from it, reading all the Argentin-

about it. I was a little nervous about the piano. He said,

ian stuff first—I knew [Pryce] was in it—but when

“So you play the piano?” I said yeah. He said, “Can you

I looked at it, I thought, This is pretty well-written.

play some jazz?” I said, “Well I can’t play jazz, but I’ll tell

28

HE’S JUST AN OLD MAN WHO’S LONELY IN THE CHURCH.” -HOPKINS

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

1127 - Cover Story.indd 28

11/22/19 12:33 PM


1127 - Cover Story.indd 29

11/22/19 12:33 PM


I WAS QUITE RELUCTANT TO EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. AND THEN, I COULD SEE WHAT A GOOD SCRIPT IT WAS, AND A GREAT STORY.” - P RYC E

30

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

1127 - Cover Story.indd 30

11/22/19 12:33 PM


other answers,” and, “I can’t be right all the time.” That’s the wonderful thing as you get older, is

Church and change in the world. So many things were surprising. I was sur-

that now I just have a ball. I don’t know anything

prised that Pope Benedict would see him as

anymore. I can’t take opinions about this, that, and

his successor, since they seemed on such op-

the other. Because now in this country and all over

posite sides. But he summons him there and

the world, everyone wants to condemn and execute.

he’s going to tell him this secret.

But give the guy a chance, whoever they are. There’s

Hopkins: I found it very touching that, in my

a scandal here about school admissions and all that.

interpretation of him, it was written that he is not a

Everyone wants death. I think, Come on, stop it. Be-

stolid, fanatical conservative. He’s a soft man, and

cause this guy said, 2000 years ago, “Cast ye the first

he’s getting older, and he thinks, I don’t know that

stone who has not sinned.” Smart man. He hung out

much. If I’m a true Christian, I’d be like Socrates, I

with the hookers and the drunks. He didn’t hang out

know nothing. Socratically, wisdom comes when

with the goody-goodies. I’m talking about Jesus.

you don’t know anything. Maybe this guy, this young [guy] who sings Abba, he seems a good

This is imagined conversation. We have no

man to me. He’s not stealing from the Vatican and

idea what they actually said to each other.

browbeating me. He seems pretty pleasant. Maybe

And you said you don’t do much research, but

he’s the guy, I don’t know. I can’t do it anymore.

did you try to figure out their way of thinking?

And I think that’s when it comes. If I haven’t

Did you look at YouTube or anything to try to

liked someone in my life it makes me think, What’s

figure out these guys?

my problem? He seemed to be perfectly OK.

Pryce: Well I looked at YouTube, because what you

That’s my paranoia, that they don’t like me. They

present, what you say, is all in the script, and people

have better things to do than think about me.

can make their minds up about what you’re saying. But it’s how he behaved, and how he was when he

You make the interaction between them

said it physically that was important to me.

look easy.

I’ve played real characters before, but this is the

Pryce: We weren’t sitting there struggling, asking,

first living character I’ve portrayed. So, everyone

“Why is he saying this? What’s he thinking?” It’s

has an idea of what he’s like. I couldn’t get away

apparent in the script. And also, Fernando cre-

with it if I didn’t... I mean, I was at an advantage in

ates an atmosphere in which it’s, you just do it. It

that I’m supposed to look a bit like him, but it was

almost seems perfectly natural. He’s not directing

more to do with the essence of the man, and how

you to do it in a certain way. He’s definitely got in

he spoke and how calm he was when he spoke.

his mind how he wants the whole thing, the shape

And he speaks quite quietly. But also, looking back

of the whole thing. But it’s just, he gave us wonder-

at YouTube clips of earlier in his life when he was

ful freedom.

being interrogated, questioned by his fellow Cardi-

Hopkins: We had a slight argument because he’s

nals about his possible involvement with the Junta,

exacting in a very good way, Fernando, he knows

and seeing how angry he looked, sitting there being

what he wants to see, and total liberty is wonder-

interviewed and interrogated. He’s sitting at a table

ful. But there was a moment when I thought, This

looking very grim, and his hand is drumming the

is not working. So, I asked him, “Could I throw that

table, which shows his impatience with them, and

line in about resigning and then get up and walk

he wasn’t taking this lightly.

away?” And he said, “Why?” I said, “Well, can I

Then talking to a Jesuit priest in Buenos Aires who

show you?” He said, “Yeah, OK.” The line was, I

worked with him and underneath him, who didn’t like

think, “I’m going to resign,” and then I get up and

him. Because we have this image of this benevolent

walk away, like a hand grenade thrown over my

Pope who’s happy and smiling all the time, and mak-

shoulder. Little moments like that, I’d say, “Can I try

ing people feel good about themselves. He said, “We

that?” And he’s wonderful, but you’d have to prove

didn’t like him. He was very strict, and when he was

it. He’d say, “Oh, yeah. That’s good. Good. Can we

made Pope and he was on the balcony, we didn’t

shoot now?”

recognize him because he was smiling, and we knew him as the man who never smiled.” So, you put these things together with what

You two actually had only worked together once before, in Under Milk Wood.

is documented about his early life. How he didn’t

Hopkins: I directed him.

want to be a priest, and he had this epiphany, and

Pryce: I don’t remember. He says he directed me.

I think it was just today, somebody said, “How did

Hopkins: He played Second Voice and I played

you build the character?” And I said, “I didn’t. He

First Voice. You’d forgotten that, hadn’t you?

did.” It’s documented and it’s there for you to see

Pryce: Yeah. I was doing this Q&A, oh God, only

the progression of the man. What’s great is that he’s

last night, at the Screen Actors Guild. They had

a flawed character, he’s a flawed man, he comes

had a screening, and they were doing a Q&A, and I

with a history. And when he gets to be Pope, there’s

told the story about—we have this story about our

a kind of liberation in him, and he’s able to talk freely

rivalry—I was number one on the call sheet, he was

about things. He’s there to instigate change in the

number two. And then he gets his own back by

1127 - Cover Story.indd 31

SPARK I NG

DEBATE

How screenwriter Anthony McCarten gave voice to Benedict and Francis “YOU DO REALIZE,” A MAN WHO

approached Anthony McCarten at a screening of The Two Popes told him, “this is a Jewish movie.” McCarten was bemused as the man explained: “The sheer fact that you have two people discuss scriptural debating is very Tom Mulligan. It’s part of the Judaic tradition to debate in such a way that you try to promote your opponent to come up with an even better argument. You’re listening to each other and so forth. Yes, it’s a Jewish movie.”

The screenwriter was delighted. He says the entire idea behind the film was to speak to a larger debate going on in the world right now, between conservative and progressive viewpoints. “In a world where conservatives and progressives are very entrenched, and moving further apart if anything, and a lot of vitriol, anger flowing both ways, we wanted to make a movie about finding the middle ground,” McCarten says. “Because to progress together, we’re going to have to retake the high ground for the middle at some point, and we’re going to have to listen to each other more. We’re going to have to find communion.” Already a three-time Oscar nominee, McCarten’s previous work includes the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, and the Winston Churchill story Darkest Hour. He is also behind the behemoth that is last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody. All three landed Best Picture nominations, a string of wins. He’ll next explore John Lennon and

11/22/19 12:33 PM


emailing me, and signing it off, “Sir Number Two.”

I think by doing those serious scenes first of all, and

Hopkins: [Laughs] Did they like that?

then playing the piano... It doesn’t take a genius

Pryce: Yeah. Then, from the back, this guy stands

to figure that out, that playing the piano is a bit of

up and he says, “OK. So, you were number one on

entertainment. He’s coming to listen to me, and

the call sheet, and he was number two. But on-

they’ve both got a sense of humor about it. And he

screen, he gets first billing.” And I said, “It’s alpha-

mentions “Eleanor Rigby”, and I say, “I don’t know.”

betical,” and gave him the finger. I said, “In Wales,

But it’s so human, between two old men.

that means bless you.” It’s not alphabetical. The wonderful scene as you’re leaving, you That’s an interesting thing to say, because

say, “Let me show you the tango.” Was that in

we’re in awards season here, and the ads are

the script?

campaigning for you, Jonathan, as lead actor,

Hopkins: Yeah.

and you, Anthony, as supporting. Do you two

Pryce: Was it? I don’t remember.

see it that way?

Hopkins: I say, “Don’t come back.”

Hopkins: Yes, absolutely.

Pryce: Yeah. That wasn’t in the script.

Pryce: He carried me through the film. All the

Hopkins: No.

politics of that? Nothing to do with us. Hopkins: We’ve got nothing to do with that. We

It looks so natural, but that must have been

worked as a team together.

fun, too.

Pryce: It’s not a competition.

Hopkins: Oh, it was. Pryce: Yeah, it was all fun, actually.

How did it help you shooting in Rome, so close

Hopkins: And they would film so quickly, we

to the Vatican? You couldn’t actually shoot at

couldn’t do endless takes.

the Vatican.

Pryce: No. We owe a lot to César [Charlone,

Hopkins: No.

cinematographer]. Because there were static cameras about, but César was always with the

But, it’s beautiful, the production design.

hand-held, and the camera’s always moving. It

Hopkins: Isn’t it beautiful?

gave it an energy, and a life to old men talking. And he was like the extra—well, Fernando said he’s like

The recreation of the Sistine Chapel is stunning.

the co-director. And these images, and the free-

Hopkins: Yes, for me it was fascinating, and I

dom to create these images, were a lot to do with

had time to contemplate it, and think a bit about

him. Because he was really close, but you’re also

religious stuff, and the design. You could look at all

very unaware of him.

the great paintings of Michelangelo, and there’s an

Hopkins: Did they have a drone above us, in the

interesting one in the Vatican itself, in the Sistine

gardens? How did they take those shots?

Chapel, where God’s touching the finger of Adam.

Pryce: There was a drone, yeah.

Michelangelo would go into these autopsies and

Hopkins: When I saw [the film], I thought, “How

cut open bodies. And I think his message was in

the hell did they get up there on a big ladder?” It’s

plain sight. His message was that God, whatever

a drone up there. We flew in the Pope’s jet as well.

it is, is in us. We may have developed that idea of

Pryce: With the Pope’s pilot.

God 300,000 years ago. That’s real? Audiences laugh so much in this movie that you

Pryce: Yeah.

could almost call it a comedy in some ways.

Hopkins: And all the regalia was designed and

Pryce: When we made it, we weren’t thinking of

tailored by the man in the Vatican.

being funny at all, were we? Hopkins: No.

How is it putting on those regal outfits?

Pryce: We just were thinking of being honest with

Hopkins: You know the Stanislavski thing about

each other, and that humor in different hands

building a character? You look in the mirror and

might have been completely different.

you think “Ah, that’s it.” But I remember they put them on, and I thought, “I like this.” And then the

It could have been shtick.

very nervous makeup lady said, “Can we try this

Pryce: Yeah. It could have been shtick, or it could

way?” She thought I was going to give her a battle.

have been very unfunny.

I said, “OK.” She put the thing on, and I said, “Oh

Hopkins: But then there’s a moment where

my God. It’s Ratzinger.” It was close, and I thought, I

everything’s very serious, and the silence at the

don’t need to act anymore. It’s that moment when

beginning of the scene, and I say, “Sometimes it’s

you think, “Ah, that’s it.”

hard to hear the voice of God, or what the plan is.”

I remember doing Howards End with Emma

And that’s a somber moment of loneliness. And

Thompson. [Chief makeup artist] Chrissy Bev-

then we have a discussion, and there are flash-

eridge said, “They want you to try a mustache.”

backs to Argentina. I go off and play the piano, and

I said, “I hate mustaches.” She said, “Well would

32

WE WEREN’T THINKING OF BEING FUNNY AT ALL, WERE WE?” - P RYC E

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

1127 - Cover Story.indd 32

11/22/19 12:33 PM


SPARK I NG

DEBATE

How screenwriter Anthony McCarten gave voice to Benedict and Francis

VATICAN VERITÉ Clockwise from above left: Pryce casts his vote as Cardinal Bergoglio, in the full regalia, with Hopkins as Pope Benedict.

The Catholic Church has been very controversial in recent years. This movie isn’t afraid to deal with that. But what do you think about that? The film seems to have universal appeal beyond the Catholic Church. Do you think it will humanize the Church? Pryce: I wouldn’t want to begin to comment on that because I think it’s beyond anything I would have to say about it. I’ve not experienced it. And it would be presumptuous to make a judgment on any of it, other than I’m glad we haven’t avoided it. It’s there in the film, and that is for other people to discuss and debate, people who are more you put one on?” And I was in a black suit. I said,

involved in it. I’ve read critics who say we’re too

“I don’t know.” I hadn’t even read the script that

lenient about that in the film, about that subject

closely, I just wanted the job. And they put the

matter, and ask why, when Benedict is in his con-

mustache on, and I thought, “That’s him.” And the

fession, you don’t hear what he says. And I think

mustache did the acting. It does, doesn’t it?

it is so powerful that you don’t hear what he says. What he doesn’t say is the most telling aspect

Jonathan, you’ve played a cardinal before.

of it. And you know he said something wrong by

Pryce: I’ve played a few cardinals. I’m used to wear-

my reaction, but also, we couldn’t presume to

ing the robes. That’s another day at work for me.

say. We didn’t know what he said. We hope that

But getting into the Pope’s outfit was a bit special.

everything we say is taken, as Anthony will have

I had a wonderful dresser, who was in Italy, and she

told you, from things they’ve said or written. So,

was very particular about the look, and it was more

it’s all well-documented. But this moment, it’s for

important to her when I was dressed as the Pope

another film.

than it was to me. Something happened when I put

Hopkins: I was asked the question before I went

the robes on. What I liked about the robes in fact,

to Rome by someone here. He said, “You’re going

is the difference between when you see Benedict

to play the Pope? He’s evil.” I said, “What do you

being created Pope, and all the finery is coming out,

mean, he’s evil?” He said, “He was a Nazi.” I said,

and the Gucci stuff, and the jewels. And then Fran-

“No, he wasn’t.” I did a little research. He wasn’t.

cis rejects it. The final thing is the shoes. Right there,

He was in the Hitler Youth apparently, and he got

when he says, “The carnival is over.” That’s a great

out. If you’re in a society and you’re forced into the

moment for me in the film, a significant moment.

Hitler Youth, what would you do? Risk execution, or

1127 - Cover Story.indd 33

Yoko Ono and The Bee Gees. You could say, then, that he’s immersed in biography. For The Two Popes, he did exhaustive research in order to make the film as plausible as possible. The movie focused on intense, imagined conversations between two living Popes, Benedict and Francis, at the first time in 700 years that there has been more than one Bishop of Rome alive at the same time. But did he worry that two old guys talking might get boring? “I never bought into that,” he insists. “I think great dialogue is as good as a car chase in terms of being fascinating, exciting, and keeping you on the edge of your seat.” By the very nature of the Vatican, nobody knows what these two men might have actually discussed, or how close their relationship may have become. But McCarten’s deep research was a good guide for making it as believable and riveting as it has become. That he pulled it off with such credibility is tribute to his skill as a playwright, author and much in-demand screenwriter. He isn’t worried about offending the Vatican. They have been in possession of the script for some time, but they didn’t stand in its way, and even approved the use of the real footage of the two Popes at one of their three publicly acknowledged meetings. Since the film has screened, the response from the Church is trickling through. “I think the word [from the Vatican] is relief,” McCarten says. “They’ve had quite a few years of bad press, and quite rightly. This is an even-handed, humanistic little piece. It’s meant to be fair. It’s not meant to whitewash anyone, but it is done in a sensitive way, and I think they appreciate that.” He recalls showing The Theory of Everything to Stephen Hawking and asking for his reaction after the movie played. “His wife Jane had a tear at the end of the movie, and he typed two words into his computer,” McCarten remembers. “Then the computer spoke with that iconic voice, ‘Broadly true.’ I thought, that’s close enough for me.” ★

11/22/19 12:34 PM


THE TWO CREATORS Director Fernando Meirelles, left, with screenwriter Anthony McCarten, photographed exclusively for Deadline by Violeta Sofia

ABOVE THE PULPIT

Why Fernando Meirelles couldn’t resist the discussion at the heart of The Two Popes

34

WHEN BRAZILIAN DIRECTOR FERNANDO MEIRELLES WAS FIRST OFFERED the opportunity to direct what would become The Two Popes, he was intrigued by what was presented to him. It was initially a project focused squarely on Pope Francis, an intriguing and divisive figure in South America. But he was caught up directing the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics, a project that took two years of his time. And when he was finally free, Anthony McCarten’s play about Francis had been transformed by the writer into the two-hander we see today. “It’s a beautiful, reinvented script,” Meirelles says. He was ready to jump in because he felt the movie was very relevant for these times. “The big thing about the film is it is about tolerance,” he says. “We have a President in Brazil who’s a total moron. Families are splitting up because of this guy. This is really stupid and nobody talks to the other, and so tolerance became something really rare in my country. So, I’m very sensitive. It’s a very big issue for me and I think that is one of the main things of the film that I like very much.”

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

1127 - Cover Story.indd 34

11/22/19 12:34 PM


do you escape? You’ll

interesting scripts all the time that you know are

do one or the other.

never going to get made. But they don’t have that

But it was, “You’re go-

something extra—this script has.

ing to play a Nazi, and you always play evil

Just recently we were showing a clip from an

men.” It’s such narrow,

Adam Driver film at a Q&A event. He hates to

unthinking… it’s called

watch himself so much. They said, “Bring him

non-think. The principle

out afterwards.” He won’t even watch himself

of non-think. Duh, react,

on a clip. Do you watch your movies?

say something, it’s

Pryce: Well, when I was Adam’s age, I would’ve been

always bad. Come on,

like that as well. If I hear, when I’m set, they’re playing

wake up. Life is really

back something, I don’t want to hear my voice. I

not like that.

can’t bear it. It’s interesting, because I’m older, and

I think the mov-

your vanity disappears a bit as you’re older. Then I’m

ing thing about this,

not looking at me, and what’s nice about it is I don’t

as I’m finding at my

recognize me in it. I’ve watched this film more times

age now, is that our

than anything else I’ve done because I just love the

imperfections are the

audience reaction. From that huge wash of laugh-

most powerful part of

ter at the opening sequence of the telephone wire

us. They are the most

going to my ear and booking the flight, and people

powerful gifts. That

don’t know what’s going on. You can feel the audi-

we understand that

ence sit back, and go, “Oh, I’m going to enjoy this.”

we are not perfect, and that’s the great feeling.

I HOPE IT SENDS A RIPPLE THROUGH THE WORLD.” -HOPKINS

For Meirelles, the challenge was to make this story as cinematic as possible, and so stylistically he used two techniques, one involving scenes with Pope Benedict and the soon-to-be Pope Francis where the camera was more steady, and then flashback scenes in Argentina where it was more handheld work, and grittier in the style of a movie like his City of God. “It was a great read, but when I signed on, I realized it was going

1127 - Cover Story.indd 35

When we become Puritans, and when they be-

The Two Popes has won so many audience

come certain, that’s when you give rise to Hitler,

awards at film festivals.

Stalin, Mao Tse Tung. That’s when you give rise to

Hopkins: Oh, it has?

absolute certainty. That’s when it’s really dangerous, and we’re living in that time now. You’re bad,

Definitely. Right down the line. At any festival,

and you must be destroyed if you don’t agree

whenever they say, what’s the audience film

with me… It’s the Inquisition, it’s Torquemada. I

this time? If The Two Popes is there, I know

hope it sends a ripple through the world. Come

that’s likely to win it. It’s reaching people.

on, let’s all relax.

Hopkins: It’s the most pleasant surprise in my life, because I’ve done some reasonably good ones

Anthony McCarten says he thinks great

and less good ones. Not bad at 81 to do one good

dialogue can be as exciting as a car chase in a

one. But sheer luck, I mean, you can never tell. You

movie. Is it hard to find a script like this that you

hope it’s going to be good. I heard a few weeks

can play in this world of the movie industry?

ago from Fernando, he wrote to me from a festival

Pryce: Well, I think they exist, but it’s hard to get

[about the film’s success]. And I said, “Oh that’s

them made. All credit to Netflix to get behind this

good. That’s a big surprise, a bit of a boost too, you

film the way they did, and the way they continue

know?” But you can’t take it too seriously. Go with

to be. Yeah, I think that’s there. I mean, you read

the flow of it. ★

to be two men talking. How are we going to keep the interest? I see the films I make as being like living beings. They start with something, but in the end, you are not really sure how they are going to finish. It’s like it has its own voice. I love that. I really let it go. I love to see where the film will want to go.” Meirelles would have loved to shoot the film at real locations in the Vatican, though he knew that wouldn’t happen. They chose

locations to match, including for Benedict’s retreat where much of the first half of the movie takes place. The Sistine Chapel was completely recreated at the famed Cinecittà Studios in Rome with one notable exception: its famed ceiling had to be rebuilt in CG. Even recreating the frescos on the walls was complicated enough. A feasibility study suggested that repainting them by hand would have taken

as long as Michelangelo in the first place, and so they turned to a sticker company to print and glue the frescos to the walls. “The texture’s exactly the same,” says Meirelles. “I visited the real Sistine Chapel several times just to check.” He laughs, remembering one crucial fact. “Actually, ours was five centimeters bigger,” he says, “so it was the biggest Sistine Chapel in the world.” ★

11/22/19 12:34 PM


D THE DIALOGUE

OSCAR CONTENDERS/ ACT R ESS

1127 - 1 - Dialogue Florence Pugh.indd 36

11/22/19 1:01 PM


F l o re n ce

three months, but I was happy with the work. Everything that the audience sees, it’s exhausting to watch it. I mean, I’ve

PUGH

watched it twice and every time, I’ve come out of it feeling completely hungover, and just dead. Coming off Midsommar, Amy March in Little Women was the best therapy for me.

She was amazing. I got to prance around

How she learned to physically fight, embody grief-stricken madness, and bring new depth to a beloved literary character BY A N T H O N Y D ’A L E S SA N D RO

in petticoats, and essentially flirt with Timothée Chalamet every day, and then punch and wrestle with all the sisters. It was great.

2019 WILL GO DOWN AS THE YEAR OF FLORENCE PUGH.

First, she showed off her action prowess in Fighting with My Family, as real-life British wrestler Saraya “Paige” Knight. Next came anguished, tormented teenager Dani in Ari Aster’s absurdist Swedish folk horror Midsommar. Then, there’s Greta Gerwig’s revisionist remake of Little Women. Pugh plays Amy March, privileged sister to Saoirse Ronan’s Jo. And that’s not all. She’s also frenemy assassin Yelena Belova to Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff in Marvel’s Black Widow, debuting in May.

Amy has been dismissed by readers, but perhaps has more nuance in Greta Gerwig’s film. I think we’re so ready, as modern people and modern women, that we are so excited to champion and to cheer for a woman that says they want to earn their own money and not get married. But actually, back in that era, that was probably one of the most reckless and silly things for you to want and do. Aunt March had trained Amy to plan for, if you marry well, you will be safe, you will have children,

How did this chain reaction of roles

What were your apprehensions?

and your children will be safe. If you marry

start? After Fighting with My Family, did

With Midsommar, it’s every actor’s dream

into a rich family that has a lot of money,

your co-star Dwayne Johnson make a

to have that much journey and that much

you are essentially surviving, and I think

ton of phone calls recommending you?

arc. But ultimately, I was very apprehensive,

that’s something that we forget as modern

I actually did Fighting with My Family years

because I can’t stand watching films when

people. During that time, women didn’t

ago when Lady Macbeth was coming out. So,

you can see someone doesn’t know how

have any choice. They didn’t own anything,

it’s funny that it only came out this year. It’s

to feel something. The hardest thing to

they didn’t own their children, and they

funny how films work like that, but that one I

do when reading Dani was, I was so aware

didn’t own any money. So, actually, this

did about two or three years ago. People are

that she needed every single emotion that

girl that we’ve all hated for so many years

always fascinated about what the big boom

was being written down, it couldn’t just be

in this book was probably one of the

was, but in actual fact, I’ve been busy for the

faked, it couldn’t be imagined, it couldn’t

smartest as well.

past four years, and they’ve all just come out.

be something that you thought, That’s

So, it’s not necessarily an overnight thing

how they would feel. In all honesty, I was

Gerwig also gave your ‘women and

for me. Ever since Lady Macbeth and Family,

scared, because I’d never come close to

marriage’ speech to Chalamet to

I’ve been going back-to-back for about four

any sort of grief like that in my entire life. I

memorize at the last minute. Were

years now.

didn’t know what that looked like, I didn’t

there a lot of on-the-fly moments?

know what that sounded like, and in a film

The script is the bible, and then if Greta

How did the role of Dani in Midsommar

that is heavily based around anxiety and

has something that she wants to add,

speak to you?

grief, it would almost be rude to wing it.

she’ll tell you in the morning. That day,

Reading a script like that, and having

obviously she gave me that whopper of

a director that wants you to be the

How did you get past those concerns?

a speech, and every given five minutes, I

character, it’s one of the best feelings ever.

I was aware that I didn’t know if I had her

would just go into the corner and look mad

It’s also one of the most terrifying feelings,

in me, and I accepted the part because I

and go over it so many times. She’s very

because I have a big connection with all

thought maybe I did, and I did a tape for

specific and precise with her script. Lines

these characters that I play, and I really

Ari, which was one of the first scenes with

will be written on top of one another, and

feel like, as an actor, it is your right to know

Christian and Dani, when he gaslights her.

you’ll be expected to come in on the exact

whether this is your role or someone else’s.

So, yeah, it was tricky, and I imagined every

word that your line is written

I’m a firm believer in that. As exciting as it

single member of my family in a coffin,

is for someone to offer you a role, you have

which got all the noises that you see in

supposed to not hear the cue that

to make sure that the character’s going

the film out of me. I’m sure many actors

you’re coming in, and it’s obviously the

to get justice with you playing it, and if it

would say that’s totally ridiculous, but

most stressful thing ever, but it’s very

doesn’t, you have to be brave enough to let

unfortunately, I can’t cry on cue. So, I had

exhilarating. Everybody had to be on their

someone else do it.

to really just destroy myself for an entire

cues, and hot. Like, really, really hot. ★

PHOTOGRAPH BY

1127 - 1 - Dialogue Florence Pugh.indd 37

Michael Buckner

it’s supposed to be chaotic. You’re

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

37

11/22/19 1:02 PM


Renée

know. She went toe-to-toe with the guys on television and held her own. She always

ZELLWEGER

didn’t have agency or as much autonomy as ladies do today, with respect to determining the trajectory of their professional lives. She did speak her mind, and she did exercise what power she did have. I think she did everything. There was nothing she

Oscar winner Renée Zellweger is raking in the chips again this awards season with a complex turn as screen legend Judy Garland BY A N T H O N Y D ’A L E S SA N D RO

I

hit the ball back, and then perhaps she

didn’t do. Just truly an inspirational, iconic performer. She was an original. She carved out a place that belongs to her. I think her decision to redefine herself as a live performer was a brilliant turning point.

N ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS’ JUDY,

Renée Zellweger storms back into the awards conversation with a tour de force performance as the tormented but tenacious Judy Garland. The film follows her in 1968, when Garland was in the third act of her career, starring in London’s Talk of the Town. It was a time when the Wizard of Oz actress was penniless, and trying to keep her personal life together as drugs and alcohol led to onstage stumbles. Zellweger disappears into the part with the same granular, pitch-perfect detail we’ve seen from her before in such roles as Chicago’s Roxie Hart, the earnest and vulnerable Nurse Betty, and the clumsy hot mess Bridget Jones.

I know you submerged yourself in a lot of YouTube footage of Garland, like the Dick Cavett interview, and her final film I Could Go On Singing, but what specifically hit a nerve with you? Neil Meron is one of my best friends, and he was one of the producers on Chicago. He also produced Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, the mini-series with Judy Davis. He had shown me I Could Go On Singing years ago; probably around 2012, I think, we watched that together. What a really interesting parallel in that story to her own life at the time. I guess “By Myself”, her live performance on the

When you were first pitched the idea

over a few days in London before we did

Judy Garland Show, I’ve referenced that

of playing Judy Garland what was

those recordings.

one quite a bit in learning her perfor-

your reaction?

mance language. Overall, everything

David Livingstone, who is the producer

Roxy’s voice in Chicago was light and

from The Judy Garland Show that was

on the film, sent the script my way.

bright, but Judy Garland has quite the

available. To see her in between takes.

When I read it I thought it was a beauti-

sostenuto quality.

There are these wonderful outtakes that

ful script. I was glad that they were going

That’s a grand thing. That’s really well put.

are online now that you can watch, and

to tell the story, but I was just curious

I mean it’s just definitively Judy Garland,

see some of her rapport with the audi-

why he sent it to me. He invited me to

isn’t it? And there’s no getting around that,

ence in between takes and things. Just a

come to London to just talk about it. To

so I just had some work to do to build up

lot of fun.

talk about what their motivation was in

my vocal cords, and I just had to learn how

wanting to tell the story, and to maybe

to do it. She sings with really open vowels,

Did you get the chance to speak with

try a few things just to see if the whole

and really open throat, and yet her reso-

Liza Minnelli or Lorna Luft in preparing

idea was just crazy or not. That’s how it

nance is quite different to anything that I

for the role?

started. We just kept trying things until

have ever emulated before. [At that latter

I did want to speak with Liza and Lorna,

we were finished making the film.

point in her career] she definitely sang in a

and I was not successful in reaching out

lower register by a couple of octaves. She

to them through my friend Neil, who has

That was at Abbey Road, right? When

preferred to lower the keys in the arrange-

produced a lot of Liza’s live shows. I actu-

you started singing around the piano.

ment in her later performances. That was

ally had gone to see her last performance

Yeah, we did. He sent a couple of record-

also a guide for us in terms of the choices

of her tour. I guess it was right around that

ings of live performances from 1968, and

that we made. And lower for me than

same time when we watched I Could Go

he asked me to familiarize myself with

where my voice naturally sits. So it was just

On Singing together in Vegas. She was a

them. We would do a little work when I got

something that I had to pay attention to,

force; extraordinary. She went on around

to London. At the end of the week or two

and work on getting comfortable with.

midnight and just danced and sang

we went into Abbey Road and did some

through the night. She was unbelievable. What personally resonated with you in

Anything that they have not shared at

taking on the daunting task of playing

this point, I feel like is treasure, and is theirs

started working after I returned home in

a screen legend?

to keep, and no one should ask. I wouldn’t

2017. I worked with a couple of friends of

Well, she was a trailblazer in every respect.

dream of asking. There are certain things

David and [Judy director] Rupert Goold’s

She participated in a way that I don’t

that is not our right to know. ★

quick recordings of a few of those. Eric Vetro [my vocal coach] and I

38

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

1127 - 2 - Dialogue Renee Zellweger.indd 38

PHOTOGRAPH BY

Chris Chapman

11/22/19 1:03 PM


1127 - 2 - Dialogue Renee Zellweger.indd 39

11/22/19 1:03 PM


Al f re

of scripts, the entire time I’ve been in Hollywood. The material has always been

WO O DA R D

there. And not just me. All the other people that have been in the trenches in this business, we’ve had the material. So, it’s not like the roles are suddenly coming. They were there. The people that held the purse strings have always thought themselves so progressive and so liberal, but they had

In a year of big projects, her turn as a stoic prison warden in Clemency is a true stand-out BY NA D I A N E O P H Y T O U

been the ones that have said, “Nobody’s going to pay to see a film with a Black woman in the lead, or a brown woman, or a yellow woman in the lead.” They said that, and they’re our friends. There are people who said it to my face from the first mo-

I

T HAS BEEN A BUSY TIME FOR ALFRE Woodard, beginning in January, when her

latest project, Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Although the Oscar-nominated, Emmywinning Woodard has had a number of noteworthy performances this year—from a dramatic rendering of the Mueller Report, to voicing Sarabi in The Lion King remake, and losing her sight in the new Apple TV+ sci-fi series, See—there is undeniable power in her Clemency portrayal of prison warden Bernadine Williams. Woodard’s character is a woman fighting to keep from unraveling after decades of overseeing state executions.

ment I arrived in this town. But I wouldn’t go away. So, I found a way to still tell stories. But the reason you haven’t seen it is because those people stood between the storyteller and the viewer and the hearer. And before Netflix came along, they got to perpetuate this hoax that the Germans and the Japanese didn’t want to see any Black people on screen. They wouldn’t buy products from people of color. And that meant if there were two Black people or two brown people and then 20 white people, they still would say, “Oh, that’s an ethnic film.” I lay it all at the feet of people

What has it’s been like seeing the im-

But you can’t put flesh and a smell onto a

who did not have the courage or the cre-

pact of this film?

character. The character is a human being.

ative intelligence that the artists and the

We really started to get it in front of people

You can’t turn them into a human being

writers have had for decades.

who we knew had some sort of connection

if you haven’t rubbed shoulders with that

to the justice movement, in the summer-

human being, or aren’t able to put yourself

Are good strides being made toward

time, and then to all kinds of audiences—of

in their footprints. You always have to find

industry inclusivity?

defenders, of prison workers, people who

the person—the way the person looks out

Anytime the audience, the public, knows

have been incarcerated, social workers, all

of their eyes onto the world. That’s your

what’s possible, they’re the ones that’ll

kinds of people that we think have been

job as an actor, not to perform. It’s not to

drive it. They’ll say, I want to see more of

having this conversation, or who are relat-

show yourself at all.

this. Because what they want to see is the

ed to people that this conversation affects.

And so, because I’m an educated

world they live in. If they walk outdoors,

And then we’ve had journalists with the

woman, I’m over 60, I have been politically

they see a completely different world than

National Association of Black Journalists,

active and socially active since I was 14. For

they had been seeing on the large and the

and a lot of other people, young and old,

me not to have any idea of people’s lives

small screen. So, you’ve got to give the

from different parts of the country. And

who run the facilities—and I knew that the

people what they want. As long as our

people just sit. They don’t jump up right

vast majority of people in the country and

viewers keep watching and making known

at the end of it. It’s not the kind of film

around the world had no idea of who they

what kind of fare that they want access to,

that people are weeping or they’re aghast.

were and what they experienced—I had to

then progress will continue to happen.

People are just stunned a little, and when

go there. It’s like me trying to do a Chekhov

Bernadine takes a breath—she inhales, at

play in Russian and I don’t speak Russian,

How do you deal with Oscar talk—do

the end—they realize they’ve been holding

and I don’t go to St. Petersburg and try to

you ignore it? Do you embrace it?

their breath for a while too, and they just

get the flavor, you know?

Oh, I never ignore anything. As an actor, we

want to talk about it.

train ourselves, and we practice taking in It took writer/director Chukwu 10

everything because we’ve got to be able to

How did you research Bernadine? You

years to get this made, with a woman

give it back... So, you don’t ignore anything,

met with prison wardens, right?

of color as the lead character—are you

but you don’t hold on to things that don’t

My ‘in’ was meeting those women. Be-

finding these kinds of roles coming to

belong to you. For me, chatter right now is

cause it still was theoretical. It’s a good

you more now?

very practical. It’s great because we have

script, and you could act it because you’ve

You know what? I have had a stack of

an indie film that we want to play right

got the facility and the writing is good.

remarkable women characters, a stack

next to the food court around America. ★

40

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

1127 - 3 - Dialogue Alfre Woodard.indd 40

PHOTOGRAPH BY

Michael Buckner

11/22/19 3:23 PM


1127 - 3 - Dialogue Alfre Woodard.indd 41

11/22/19 1:04 PM


L a u ra

based on how women are measured in the world, and how women have to enter a room, and how women have to fight, and

DERN

how women have to go up against men in their workplace environment. All of those things were being considered. And how mothers are measured differently than fathers… it’s like, “Oh my God, he made

dinner for his kids. He’s amazing.” Noah

On telling two versions of a feminist narrative with Marriage Story’s ruthless divorce lawyer and Little Women’s warm-hearted Marmee BY A N T O N I A B LY T H

said, “I know how it goes.” Nora’s physicality is so interesting in a way that’s all sharp elbows. Both Noah and I researched several lawyers, family lawyers, in LA and New York.

F

FROM HER LYNCHIAN BEGINNINGS IN

Blue Velvet to escaping an errant T-Rex in Jurassic Park, to becoming the superpower that is Renata Klein in Big Little Lies, Laura Dern has perhaps one of the broadest ranges of any actress in our time. And this season once again showcases her dynamism, as she digs into two vastly differing roles: the spiky divorce lawyer Nora Fanshaw in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, and the kind matriarch Marmee March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. In Marriage Story, Dern delivers a skin-stripping feminist monologue that’s had viewers cheering, while as Marmee, she brings depth and edge to a beloved literary character.

Every woman is different. Every woman handles her work differently, but with a couple women specifically, I watched how they used their bodies in a primarily sexist business. And there was the female body as armor, female body as manipulation aspect to this character that Noah played around with, and we explored in our many conversations, in meeting with these attorneys, which I found fascinating. Like bringing their femininity and even the men’s awareness of it in the room to sort of say, “Slow down. I know who I am. I’m in charge. I’m going to use everything to make you forget what we’re fighting over,

It’s so interesting that you got to work

that in Noah and Greta, that feeling, that

with both sides of the Noah Baumbach/

it’s a continual conversation. As wildly

Greta Gerwig partnership in a year.

different as two characters can be, it’s a

In Little Women Marmee is very honest

It’s been incredible. It’s been a profound

continued conversation about what it is

about her anger. Does it feel like you’ve

equal partnership, which is what’s so

to be human, what it is to be female, what

resurrected the real Marmee here?

radical, by two auteurs, whose writing is

it is to be a woman in power, what it is to

It was definitely our goal and definitely

meticulous, who have their own rhythm,

be influencing others. All of those consid-

Greta’s goal. She so inspired me, as did

their own language, who know exactly

erations came up in these wildly different

Concord, Massachusetts, where the real

what they want, who are precise, who are

stories. And for this couple to give me not

family lived. And the history is there to be

major researchers, and inspire research

only the opportunity to be part of their

in that space, to understand not only the

in you. Honestly, they have made, both of

stories, but to play the most unbelievably

revolution, but the literary revolution, and

them, absolutely perfect movies. I spent

different female characters I could ever

the feminist revolution that was occur-

my year with them and it’s just been amaz-

play back-to-back was amazing.

ring at the time. To learn that the real

ing. We really are a family now—family, like,

and then tell you who’s winning.”

Marmee, Louisa [May Alcott]’s mother,

“Let’s be together for Thanksgiving” family.

Your monologue in Marriage Story—did

was America’s first social worker. She

I really love them.

you get the sense Noah was looking to

was an abolitionist. She was hiding slaves

faithfully represent the female side of

in her home as part of the Underground

Did each film feel like a collaborative ef-

that divorce experience? What did he

Railroad... You feel the revolution in her,

fort with both of them involved? There’s

tell you about his intentions for that

and feel that that mother must have raised

Marriage Story from Noah’s point of

incredible scene?

Louisa. She didn’t come from the prim and

view, and then you’re telling this very

He let me discover it in the writing. I fell

proper, “ladies only speak when spoken to”

female-driven story with Greta.

in love with it. He let me elaborate a little

household, and then write Little Women.

Yes. I think Adam Driver speaks so beauti-

bit and really get to the core of it in the

And I think Greta wanted to pay homage

fully of his relationship with Noah, that he

writing of it, which was amazingly fun, to

to the household that was allowing her to

feels like it’s all just one long conversa-

collaborate in that way. I think he wanted

find her own self, and find her art, and find

tion from the four movies they’ve done

to give [a sense of] who she was when she

her truth... The few people who’ve already

together. And I had not felt that other than

first got into it [being a divorce lawyer] and

seen the movie, the line they keep bringing

with David Lynch, where you are fam-

what her actual intent is, that it’s not just

up to me is that, “I’ve been angry every day

ily, and you’re going to be in this lifetime

some stereotype of a woman who needs

of my life.” I think that admittance from a

journey of making art together. I had found

to win, that there are intentions that are

mother to a daughter is very impactful. ★

42

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

1127 - 4 - Dialogue Laura Dern.indd 42

PHOTOGRAPH BY

Violeta Sofia

11/22/19 1:05 PM


1127 - 4 - Dialogue Laura Dern.indd 43

11/22/19 1:05 PM


Annette

and who she is in private. Part of the truth of the story is that she

BENING

straightforward and somewhat reserved, and so it was my job to just operate within the margins that she operates in. I just tried to approach it as truthfully as I could. [Senator Feinstein] plays by the rules and I like the fact that in this case, she’s one of

As real-life Senator Dianne Feinstein in Scott Z. Burns’ The Report, the actress exposes CIA atrocities with a quiet, but determined focus BY S T E V I E WO N G

B

isn’t a firebrand. This is a woman who is

the people that really did the right thing. When The Report came out, Senator Feinstein gave a very honorable speech on the floor of the Senate essentially

ETWEEN HER CELEBRATED PERFORMANCES

as the unraveling Nic in The Kids Are Alright, dying legend Gloria Grahame in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, and one-third of the devious Grifters, Annette Bening has created a highly-respected filmography of complex female characters over three decades. But in the political drama The Report, Bening approaches the role of Senator Dianne Feinstein with a deft, quiet performance that feels entirely new. With four previous Oscar nominations, and this year’s Captain Marvel role under her belt, Bening continues to demonstrate an ever-expanding range and an apparently bottomless depth of skill.

admitting the government made mistakes, which is so rare these days. Yes. Even you mentioning it just stirs me in some way. She basically says the United States is admitting that we made a mistake and we’re big enough to do that. We did the wrong thing, and we are admitting it, and we are vowing that it will never happen again. And I just think that’s such an incredible moment for her to stand up and say that. And it is really such a heroic concept. Right now, we need to be reminded that’s what governments are capable of doing. It’s what makes our country, in this case, really great, that we were able to

How did you come aboard The Report?

San Francisco, she was on the board of

on vowing for it never to happen again. I

Scott Burns, the writer/director, sent it to

supervisors, and automatically became

mean, how many countries in the world

me and I thought it was very strong. So, I

Mayor because of the murders of Harvey

torture? Many, many, many countries. And

met with him and just signed up. I had a

Milk and [then Mayor] George Moscone.

in this case, we admitted it and we vowed

very surface knowledge of what had hap-

In a number of different ways our paths

that it would never happen again.

pened when this report had come out. But

had crossed over the years. We had both

I wasn’t that aware of it either. I found it

gone to San Francisco State, and then of

It feels like films like The Report are

really shocking and really important.

course she was my Senator. So, I watched

becoming a rarity. It’s tough to get

her speeches, I watched her in interviews,

them made.

checks and balances. And what I found

I watched her doing investigations in the

I just feel very grateful. It’s very hard to

inspiring about it is that in this case, to a

various committees that she’s been on.

make a political film that gets you in your

degree, our system really worked. We have

There’s lots of availability to watch and

gut. The subject matter is one thing, but

these laws, they have to be respected, but

listen to her. I just wanted to do enough

trying to weave it into a narrative that

it’s the force of character of a few individu-

where you accepted it was her, and for the

keeps you glued to the screen is really, re-

als that allows this sort of wrongdoing to be

story of The Report to just speak for itself.

ally hard. And that’s why there aren’t more

It’s a story about accountability and

uncovered. So, it was a lot of people who

of them. I just feel very lucky that Scott

are responsible for the right thing happen-

The performance is really subtle. You

asked me to do it, and I’m very grate-

ing, including a lot of public officials who

can see Senator Feinstein wanting to

ful to him and to everybody who worked

deserve a tremendous amount of credit.

get the truth out, and yet she quietly

on the movie. We almost didn’t get the

plays within the rules of the system.

movie made, we had people pull out of the

public officials, but we don’t spend enough

Well, I talked to Dan Jones [lead investigator

financing, and then Vice News basically

time appreciating them when they do the

of The Report] a lot. Dan is the man who

stepped up and helped us finish making

right thing. I just thought it was incredibly

Adam Driver’s character is based on, and

the movie.

well done.

he was very much part of the making of the

We spend a lot of time criticizing our

It a smaller film in terms of budget, but

film. He’s a wonderful guy, a really interest-

of course all of that is to the service of

How did you prepare to play Senator

ing person, and he’s also very selfless and

trying to make this movie, and everybody

Dianne Feinstein? Did you spend time

very humble. I asked him a lot about Dianne

wanted to make it. So, I’m just glad that we

with her?

and what his experience of her was. She is

got it made, and that everyone who was

I did not talk to her before we made the

someone who, as far as I can see, is pretty

involved worked so hard. We had every-

movie. But for many years, when I lived in

consistent in terms of who she is in public

body just pitching in. ★

44

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

1127 - 5 - Dialogue Annette Bening.indd 44

PHOTOGRAPH BY

WAL LPAP E R COU RT ESY OF FA RROW& BA LL | CH AI R COU RT ESY OF KL AUS N .CO M

expose this wrongdoing and double down

Chris Chapman

11/22/19 1:07 PM


1127 - 5 - Dialogue Annette Bening.indd 45

11/22/19 1:07 PM


Thomasin

MCKENZIE

them into something completely different, and make them really relatable. He always adds his own goofy twist to things, so if you see a Taika film, you immediately know it’s a Taika film. Above all of that, he’s got a really big heart. This story is one that was really important to him, because he’s Jewish himself, and for him, you can never stop telling these stories. And humor is the tool

Jojo Rabbit involved devastating research, unusual film references and a remarkable working experience with satirist Taika Waititi BY M AT T G RO BA R

that he used to share these messages. Any stand-out memories? I think my favorite memory of working with Taika is that he was always in the room, and if he could be, his cheek would always

A

FTER APPEARING IN LEAVE NO TRACE

to much critical acclaim last year, Thomasin McKenzie came to Jojo Rabbit excited by the notion of learning from one of the industry’s most unconventional voices. In Taika Waititi’s World War II drama, centered on an avid member of the Hitler Youth (Roman Griffin Davis), McKenzie plays Elsa, a Jewish girl he finds hiding in his attic, who works to change his hateful worldview. While working with Waititi, the actress found dimensions in her character that weren’t at first evident. “There are so many ways to look at characters,” she says, “and that is the biggest thing I learned.”

be right up against the camera. He was just always in it with us the entire way. This was your young co-star Roman Griffin Davis’s first film. How did you work with him to create the unexpected and beautiful friendship between Elsa and Jojo? I think the relationship that we created happened in a very natural way, because Roman is such a beautiful boy. He’s got such a big heart, a lot of emotional maturity, and throughout the whole experience, I really admired him and his professionalism, and how much joy he brought to the

What did you discuss with Taika when

allowed to walk around and take pictures

set every day. My little sister left about a

you met him the first time?

and tour, or even talk amongst themselves.

week in, back to New Zealand, so I was

We met for dinner at a vegan restaurant in

It’s just a very strange feeling. But at the

really missing her, and I transferred that

Prague. I sat down and I’d done all of this

same time, it’s so important that people

missing—that sisterly feeling—onto Ro-

research, so I felt like I’d done the first part

see these sites and are hit hard with the

man. He and his twin brothers became my

of my job, which was the preparation. I

realness of it all. Because there are so

little brothers, and we spent a lot of time

wanted them to be able to trust that I was

many people out there that don’t know

with each other, so it was really fun. I think

taking this seriously, so I sat down with

what the Holocaust was, don’t understand

that kind of chemistry is really shown in the

that feeling of fulfillment of that task. I told

the word Auschwitz, or Theresienstadt,

film—the big sister, little brother chemistry.

Taika and Carthew [Neal], the producer,

or concentration camp, or deny even that

There’s a lot of bickering, and maybe a

the research I had done, and Taika went,

those things happened. So, it’s important

little bit of bullying, but there’s always love.

“Oh cool. Yep, nice. Now, can you watch

that we are able to be affected by how

Mean Girls and Heathers?”

heavy the atmosphere is at those sites.

So, I think from the get-go, Taika was

Walking around it, it just felt wrong. You

How much did Taika encourage improvisation on set?

really interested in helping me to look at

could really feel the fear and the devasta-

I think that Taika always knew exactly

Elsa in a different, maybe unexpected way,

tion that had been soaked into the walls. A

what film he was making. From the get-go,

which really opened my eyes to a com-

historian was showing me around There-

from when I first read the script, it was

pletely different side of her. It made me

sienstadt, and my little sister was with me

just perfect, and there was really no need

realize that she is of course a victim, but

in Prague at the time—and the historian

to change any of the lines. So, I think par-

that’s not what her life is defined by.

refused to take this tour if my little sister

ticularly for Roman and I, it wasn’t about

was there, because she didn’t feel com-

coming up with new lines. It wasn’t improv,

You visited Theresienstadt, a concen-

fortable telling these stories with such a

in that way. It was just having the freedom

tration camp and ghetto in the Czech

young person around.

to give different offers, and have fun with

Republic, set up by the SS during World

those lines, and try different things out. I

War II. How did you feel, being there?

What was your experience of working

think a lot more of the improv came with

I think that it’s a really weird feeling, go-

on set with Taika?

Stephen Merchant and Rebel Wilson. Taika

ing to a site where so many people were

Taika is such a kooky guy that has just got

was really interested in them freestyling a

being murdered and tortured for no real

so much going for him. What I love about

little bit, but they’re so, so amazing at it.

reason, or no reason at all. It doesn’t feel

Taika is his ability to take stories that may

Everyone had so much confidence in the

like it should be a place where people are

have been told a lot of times, and turn

script... it was so beautiful. ★

46

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

1127 - 6 - Dialogue Thomasin McKenzie.indd 46

PHOTOGRAPH BY

Violeta Sofia

11/22/19 1:10 PM


1127 - 6 - Dialogue Thomasin McKenzie.indd 47

11/22/19 1:10 PM


The

Partnership No. 2

ZHAO SHUZHEN & AWKWAFINA

1127 - The Partnership.indd 48

11/26/19 11:02 AM


p

Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen are the duo at the heart of Lulu Wang’s The Farewell. Awkwafina is Billi, an Asian-American New Yorker returning to China for one last chance to see Nai Nai, her terminally-ill grandmother, played by Shuzhen. But there’s a catch: the family have decided Nai Nai must not be told her diagnosis—a decision they call ‘the good lie’. It’s a story that could have been maudlin and morose, especially since it’s based on Wang’s own real-life situation with her grandmother. But instead, Awkwafina and Shuzhen form a strikingly nuanced study in words left unsaid, love intuited, and the simple joy we must find in the present moment. In conversation with Antonia Blyth, and featuring new portraits by Evan Mulling, the actresses discuss their heartfelt responsibility toward the real Nai Nai, crossing a language barrier, and sacred familial ties.

almost like a granddaughter as well. The chemistry you see on screen, I think that came from a very real place, because there was a real sense of a bond between the two of us. Awkwafina: There was. Shuzhen: That sense of love and respect. It really was like family, and that’s what ended up on screen, truly. The response to this film has been enormous. People come out of theaters crying. Awkwafina: You should ask her because she saw yesterday for the first time. Shuzhen: I cried. I laughed, and I cried. And Zhao, this is also your first time in the States, and you’re been inundated by fans of the film. How has that felt? Shuzhen: Very surprising.

Awkwafina, you were raised by your Chinese

this was in a different language. But I also knew that

Awkwafina: Did you see it with subtitles?

grandmother, but was there a language issue?

there was a part of me that almost could fathom

Shuzhen: Yes, I saw the Chinese version. Truly, I was

Awkwafina: I really wish I could thank my grandma

speaking bad Chinese, because that’s literally how

very impressed by it. I think everything, from the

for teaching me more, but she really didn’t. I think

I’ve done it my whole life. Just getting by with the

acting to the scene photography to the editing, to

the only leg-up I had was that growing up, I just

bare minimum.

the whole packaging of the film is remarkable. I was

heard it around me. I didn’t even really know how

very moved after seeing it. And again, going back

to say basic verbs or words until I went to China,

Zhao, as a veteran of Chinese theater and

to what I was saying earlier, I think it is because the

when I was like 18 or 19 years old, for a language

screen, how did you feel about switching to

movie reflects such genuine warmth and sincerity

program. That’s when I learned very basic funda-

this American world of filmmaking? Did you

and love that Lulu has for the family. I think that’s

mentals. I found though, that when you were out

have any concerns?

really the essence of the film.

there in Beijing at that time, there weren’t a lot of

Shuzhen: Yeah, I actually did hesitate a little bit

people that spoke a lot of English, and you had to

because first of all, there’s a language barrier. I was

to interact with fans here in the States. Many of them

speak some Chinese to get around. You learn it a

afraid that I might not get along with the cast and

have come to me and said, “After seeing this film, I

little quicker because it’s more of a survival skill. I

crew because I could tell that half of the crew, they

called my grandma, I called my family, my relatives.”

went to McDonald’s and I ordered a whole diatribe.

were either Americans—so to me they were foreign-

The fact that people are reacting to it this way, that’s

I was very impressed with myself. When I was there

ers—or they’re Asian-Americans. People might not

been astonishing and very moving for me.

at first, obviously, there was a language barrier with

be able to speak Chinese fluently, and I don’t speak

the script.

English. I was worried that in terms of the sense

Awkwafina, as Billi, you’re essentially playing

of chemistry, or rapport with the team, it might

Lulu herself. How did you prepare with her?

Zhao, what did Lulu tell you about this role

not be very smooth. Actually, once I accepted and

Awkwafina: One of the very specific things about

when she first approached you?

participated in the filming, and especially through-

this is that Lulu is never like, “I don’t do that.” I think

Zhao Shuzhen (via translator): Initially, she was just

out the production process with Awkwafina, we just

at the same time, I did have to ask Lulu, “What is

telling me about her grandma. She told me about

grew very close. It really felt like family because she

she feeling right now?” I think that oftentimes you

her actual grandma’s life and she told me stories.

is someone who, in between takes while she was

have to remember that this did happen to Lulu. It’s

I could feel a real sense of love and sincerity that

on breaks, I saw her calling her grandma constantly.

like, “What is she really feeling?” And I think that

Lulu has for her family and for the story material. I

In fact, she even put me on video chat with her. It

that’s when she was very helpful for me, with vari-

knew that the sense of love, the sense of apprecia-

was very fun for me. At the time, I just could tell this

ous degrees of how she’s digesting all of this.

tion she has for her family, clearly just ran very deep.

is a child who clearly loves her family, and loves her

I was very moved and very touched, when she first

grandma. And that really sparked a lot of warmth in

that really represents anyone going into this experi-

communicated about the part and about the story

me. I really felt like I could relate very well. That really

ence. I think in that way she becomes very relatable.

to me.

was a turning point.

She has her own ways of thinking, but she’s open to

The tagline for the film in China is about this idea

In the last couple of days, I’ve had opportunities

At the same time, Billi is a very neutral character

other understandings as well. I think that’s what this

Awkwafina, when you were cast, Lulu had only

of the grandma being someone who asks, how are

whole journey is about. You have to understand that

seen your rap videos—it was pre-Crazy Rich

you doing? Whether or not you’re cold, whether you

you have to go through it on your own.

Asians. What pushed you to really go for this

have clothing, whether or not you’re lonely. And for

role? Was it the personal element because of

me, that’s how I interact with my real grandchildren.

What about meeting Lulu’s Nai Nai? She was

your own grandmother?

I ask them, “Do you have a girlfriend yet? Do you

around during shooting, right? She hasn’t seen

Awkwafina: It was just really that I saw myself in

have a boyfriend yet? How is everything going?”

the film and she still doesn’t know her diag-

the role. It went beyond the relationship with my

That’s how I treat my grandchildren.

nosis. Was it important to have her around, to have her presence on the set?

grandma, and my personal relationship, because

For Nora [Awkwafina], I could tell that she

it really was about finding identity between two

related to her grandma in a very similar way. I ap-

Awkwafina: I think it did feel important because

worlds. I think that’s something that I really related

proached this part and I approached the film as a

she was so warm and just so lovable and loving.

to. I knew that I was very new to drama. I knew that

grandma. And I could tell she really approached it

I think she also was a beacon of like, “This is why D E A D L I N E .C O M / AWA R D S L I N E

1127 - The Partnership.indd 49

49

11/26/19 11:02 AM


we’re doing this movie.” When she would come on

60 years of acting. That’s incredible.

set, it became our responsibility as well. We couldn’t

Awkwafina: Yeah. [On the Chinese shoot] there

let her know. She’s extremely warm. She treats us

were a bunch of screaming fans and they came up

like her own. It was really nice to get to know her.

to me and I was like [thinking they were for me], but then I was like, “Oh.” They recognized her. It was

It must be quite weird to politely conceal the

good [laughs].

subject of the film you’re making?

Shuzhen: [Laughs] Nora is such a funny person.

Awkwafina: It really could have been like a movie

She was just off and cracking jokes. She really

within a movie.

warmed up and lightened things. The atmosphere

Shuzhen: Whenever she was around, you could

was so funny. Nora was constantly doing that really.

tell that she is just a very loving, very warm, very

I think that drew us very close. A lot of the emotion,

kind person, but also had a very strong, fierce and

the humor, the rapport, the chemistry that you see

independent side to her as well. Whenever the topic

on screen, a lot of it was really because Nora was

did come up, basically, we just tried to talk about

going out of step. I want to say thanks to her.

something else. I tried to distract her. We would just

Awkwafina: Thanks to you.

WITHOUT WORDS Shuzhen and Awkwafina in The Farewell.

try to deviate away from the subject matter and focus on other things. She really looked like a very healthy and very

What was important to you that viewers understand about Chinese culture through this film?

vital person. There was a lot of energy to her. And

What did you want them to take away?

obviously, we knew that she is ill. The fact that she’s

Awkwafina: I wanted them to look at the lie with

stayed as warm and as healthy, as vital, as energetic

an open mind, and, in the same way that a lot of

as she is, that’s very inspiring for me personally, and

Asian-American children apparently have to every day,

very moving as well.

I wanted them to see that basically there is a group mentality. There’s a fierce reverence for your elders.

It’s very hard to watch those scenes where Nai

That, I think, is a really big staple of what all Asian-

Nai thinks everything’s fine and everybody’s

American home life is like. We have a sincere reverence.

trying to hide their tears because she’s so ill.

I also wanted them—this is something more

Was that personally emotional for you?

obscure that I really wanted—I think that there is

Awkwafina: Yeah. It was very emotional for me

a universal quality to all of this. To what grandmas

at some points. I think Zhao just said it best. I was

represent to us, and to how loss devastates us;

constantly calling my grandma because I am a

how loss devastates the unit of a family. I also

grandma’s girl. [Shuzhen] is an incredible actress.

wanted them to understand the journey that

Such a powerful actress. What she said, it really

takes place between America and China.

does come from a real place. My scenes with her,

Shuzhen: How I personally view it is, this notion of

she really sparked a lot of that emotion, just feeling

the good lie, or benign lie, this is something I feel like

her energy, feeling her performance.

this movie communicates well to the audience. For

There is a universal quality to all of this. To what grandmas represent to us, and to how loss devastates us.” –Awkwaf ina

me, it comes down to, what is the purpose of telling

In a lot of your scenes, the love and the con-

ficult for me were, emotionally, saying goodbye to

a good lie? I know that there’s a general under-

nection between you two is communicated

her. It was a very difficult scene. Then, I think, that

standing perhaps in the West, perhaps in America,

without words. There’s a lot of silence. Not

scene where I find that you are really getting into

where people think, “Oh, they shouldn’t have done

many actors can handle that well. Lulu has said

Billi’s head and understanding where a lot of this

this, the family should have told her the truth.” And

she cast you, Awkwafina, because you could

comes from. But she made it very easy to get in that

I think that maybe it’s an act that could even be

silently show feeling in your face.

spot. She’s incredible.

considered illegal in an American context.

Awkwafina: That’s cool. Honestly, it’s something

I think some of the things that were a little dif-

Shuzhen: Initially I didn’t think it would be that

When you observe in the movie, and also, I know

that almost felt like something I’ve done before. I

difficult of a role to play because I started acting at

this from my personal life and from the people

think that it’s the expression of wanting to say so

the age of 16. I had been acting for 60-plus years,

around me, oftentimes what’s happening in China

much, but not being able to, right? I think that in my

and I started acting with Harbin Theatre when I was

is that a benign or a good lie like that often yields

life, I’ve had to do that a lot. I think that the added

16. So, over the past 60 years, I’ve played all kinds of

positive results. I’ve had friends who had been di-

impact of knowing she is an incredible actress, it’s

characters and different backgrounds. I’ve had solid

agnosed with illness, but because they didn’t know

like you really do believe that she doesn’t know it,

experience, and usually, getting to the mindset of a

what was going on, they were happy. They were not

and then at the same time, you feel that love.

character is not that difficult for me. But what was

burdened psychologically with thoughts of death

challenging was the fact that I was now playing a

or mortality. They actually ended up living a happier

I couldn’t communicate with them in a language

real person. I felt like I had a responsibility to really

life; in some cases, a longer life. The illness did not

sense, but I felt the love and I had to give them

be this person, and take on the personality, the

exacerbate, or did not get any worse.

that love. I think that’s really interesting that you

I’ve had to meet with family members where

behavior, the traits, the tics of this particular person.

Sometimes miracles like that do happen. Some-

I felt like it was very important for me to really spend

times, when people in China, when they do find out

time with the real grandma. To interact with her,

the reality or what’s actually happened to their body,

It’s a familiar place for you really?

to observe her. And also, for me to listen to Lulu’s

when they do find out that they’re ill, oftentimes they

Awkwafina: Yeah. Like wanting to be able to say

direction, because all the time she would give me

just fall apart. So, for me, this benign lie, the lie that

so much, but literally not being able to. But know-

a very gentle reminder that it’s important to really

we see in the movie, is something that I can accept.

ing that they love you, and knowing that there are

think of the real grandma and what she’s like.

It’s something that I could see the purpose for.

things they wish they could say to you too. It was

50

said that, but yeah.

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

1127 - The Partnership.indd 50

11/26/19 11:02 AM


And she did. And it was really natural. I think it just set the tone for our real-life relationship, and our relationship in the movie. What’s up next for you both? In what way did this experience inform your work going forward? Awkwafina: Next up, I’m heading to do Marvel (ShangChi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). My show (Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens) is going to come out as well, and Jumanji will come out around December, January. I think that my mind will always be open to whatever, but what I learned on The Farewell informs my performances. There’s always a part of it in me. Shuzhen: I do a lot of TV drama. In fact, I’m in the middle of shooting something right now in Sichuan, which is another province in China. As soon as I get back to China, I’m going to jump right back into that production and start acting again. This movie certainly has been very helpful in terms of my career because even just recently, there were American production companies that were reaching out to me, and asking whether or not I would be available. Also, Diana Lin, who plays Awkafina’s mother in the film, also has this American project that she’s approached me with, where she would play the daughter, and I would play the mother. That’s another possibility. I feel like I’m a professional grandma a lot. That’s awesome to do with her. I haven’t seen her since

When Nai Nai is showing Billi her daily exercise

what I do. But I’m just very grateful for the fact

we wrapped. It’s a long time. Over a year ago.

routine, it looked like you were genuinely having

that this group has been so influential. Because

Shuzhen: I felt Nora just did such a wonder-

fun together.

movies ultimately, they have a farther reach

ful job holding that in. Because as an actor, you

Awkwafina: That was our first scene together. I

than TV, and this movie is really remarkable,

know we often talk about the fact that being

remember meeting her and being a little nervous,

because it has such elegance and simplic-

silent, that’s actually very difficult. There are

because obviously, approaching this whole project,

ity and beauty about it. It is not a movie that

things with your facial expression, with your eye

and then, also, that she is just like this incredible

overdoes anything, it’s a movie that’s just very

movement, your little things, those things that

actress, and the language.

even-keeled. Within that there’s a real sense of

communicate your interior state of being. We [as

I was like, “You know what? I can feel a warmth

beauty and elegance, and warmth and love to

actors] often talk about the idea of still hav-

from her. I can feel that there’s a warm soul when

it, and I feel like it’s very rare to see a movie like

ing interior dialogue with yourself. You’ve got to

we do these exercise scenes. I’m going to try and

that these days. I’m just grateful to have been a

know what is going on inside.

make her laugh, and if she laughs then we’re good.”

part of it. ★ D E A D L I N E .C O M / AWA R D S L I N E

1127 - The Partnership.indd 51

51

11/26/19 11:03 AM


Deadline presents AwardsLine Screening Series

‘The Serengeti Rules’ N OV E M B E R 7 / N E W YO R K

‘The Serengeti Rules’

Nicolas Brown

N OV E M B E R 1 1 LOS ANGELES

Semih Kaplanoğlu and Kübra Kip

‘Commitment’ Kim Coleman, Terence Blanchard, Cynthia Erivo, Kasi Lemmons and Angie Wells

N OV E M B E R 1 3 / L O S A N G E L E S

‘Harriet’ N OV E M B E R 17 / L O S A N G E L E S

Ladj Ly

‘Les Misérables’ N OV E M B E R 2 1 / N E W YO R K

52

‘Beanpole’ Kantemir Balagov

N OV E M B E R 2 1 / L O S A N G E L E S

M A RCOS DA NI E L FE RR E IRA /D E AD L I N E; EVA N FAL K/ D EA D LI N E ; J I A JU N L I U/ D E A D LI N E

Nicolas Brown

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

1127 - Flash Mob.indd 52

11/22/19 12:39 PM


VIDEO SERIES

Go behind the scenes with the talented people who work on the most critically acclaimed television shows and films

WATC H N OW AT

DEADLINE.COM/VIDEO

1127 - HOUSE ADs.indd 53

11/22/19 12:45 PM


Jada Pinkett Smith

Jodie Turner-Smith, Melina Matsoukas, Daniel Kaluuya and Lena Waithe

AFI Fest N OV E M B E R 14 - 1 9 LOS ANGELES

Noah Baumbach and Laura Dern

Olivia Colman

Natalie Portman

Clive Owen

Rihanna

54

Zendaya

Jonathan Pryce

Helena Bonham Carter

Fernando Meirelles

Ted Sarandos and Anthony Hopkins

RE X /S H U T T ERSTO CK

Clint Eastwood and Jon Hamm

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

1127 - Flash Mob.indd 54

11/22/19 1:56 PM


Untitled-8 1

11/19/19 3:14 PM


DECEMBER 7, 2019 D G A T H E AT E R 110 WEST 57TH STREET ( I N C L U D I N G A C AT E R E D B R E A K FA S T A N D L U N C H )

TH E ONLY EVENT WHE RE AMPAS AND GUILD MEMBERS H AVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEN D THE DAY HEARING DIRECTLY FROM THE FILMMAKERS OF THIS YEAR’S AWARDS SEASON

FOR MO RE IN FO RMAT I O N P L E AS E V I SI T

C O N T E N D E R S N Y 2 0 1 9. D E A D L I N E .C O M

1127 - HOUSE ADs.indd 56

11/22/19 12:44 PM

Profile for Deadline Hollywood

Deadline Hollywood - AwardsLine - 11/27/2019  

11/27/2019 - Deadline Hollywood - AwardsLine - Oscar Preview - Actress

Deadline Hollywood - AwardsLine - 11/27/2019  

11/27/2019 - Deadline Hollywood - AwardsLine - Oscar Preview - Actress