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“This is the ultimate battle!” J.J. Abrams



Kylo on fans, films and singing



hot right now

Zoë Kravitz

Is sharpening her edge...


espite celebrity parents in Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz, Zoë Kravitz didn’t see major Hollywood roles as her birthright. “I truly believed I didn’t fit into that world,” she said, declaring a preference for pursuing theatre and indie roles.

After formative indie gigs and recent deviations from such, Kravitz has sunk her claws into a role that should change that. Following in the paw-steps of Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway and others, Kravitz will play Selina ‘Catwoman’ Kyle in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, where she’ll join Jeffrey Wright’s Gordon and Paul Dano’s Riddler alongside Robert Pattinson’s Bats. Kravitz’s stepdad and fellow DC lead Jason Momoa (Aquaman) celebrated the casting, declaring himself “freaking stoked” on Instagram. Pitched between indie cool and stealthy Hollywood in-roads, Kravitz’s CV gives Cat-fans plenty of reasons to feel stoked, too. Kravitz has indeed put in time in the indie trenches, beginning with a role as a Selina-chic goth nanny in No Reservations and continuing in films including teen-pic crowdpleaser Dope, where her performance sharpened underwritten dream-girl Nakia. Meanwhile, she’s left more than scratch-marks in crossover roles. She banked a pivotal role in Mad Max: Fury

Total Film | december 2019

Road, while Bonnie in TV’s Big Little Lies stretched her long-form range. TV beckons again with a series adaptation of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, where she will take the role played by John Cusack and indulge self-proclaimed “music nerd” tendencies: she also fronts bands Lolawolf and Elevator Fight. Elsewhere, Kravitz’s genre form has been on-key. In X-Men: First Class, she revelled in Angel Salvadore’s ambiguities; in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, she stole the scene as Leta Lestrange. Animation gigs have included Spider-Man: Into The SpiderVerse’s MJ and The Lego Batman Movie, where she voiced a certain Catwoman. She had less luck with The Dark Knight Rises, recalling being told she couldn’t audition for a “small role” because they – ouch - “weren’t ‘going urban’”. But a big Bat-verse entrance awaits. “I feel,” she said recently, “like I’ve proven I’m here to stay.” Not before time, this cat’s got the cream. KH ETA | 25 June 2021 / The Batman opens in summer 2021.






f young actors worry about typecasting, they should take a lesson from Micheal Ward. “I just know that won’t happen to me,” says the 22-year-old British breakout star from the Drake-produced revival of Top Boy. Now heading up intense urban drama Blue Story, he’s armed with ambition. “I’m very versatile,” he grins. “I believe in my ability.” How’s that for confidence?

Were you aware of the gang-related ‘postcode wars’ growing up? I grew up in Essex so I never got to see that side of it, the postcode wars. But as social media started to grow, you could go on YouTube and see the impact it has – Peckham vs Brixton, for instance. I used to see that on YouTube a lot, and that’s when I started listening to that kind of music. You can see it’s a different world. Your musician director Rapman signed up with Jay-Z’s company. Has he introduced you yet? Not yet! But one day, eh? He’s with the Roc Nation now, which is a big, big accomplishment. It’s only right, you get to be rubbing shoulders with legends like that. It’s a dream, really. What impact has Top Boy had on your career? Huge. It changed my life forever. Literally. There’s no way of dialling it down. Top Boy has made me a star. Literally. I don’t even know what to say. Top Boy has changed my life. That’s the impact it had. There’s no going back now. JM ETA | 22 NOVEMBER / BLUE STORY OPENS THIS MONTH.

M a r k Gr eg s on


Do you see Blue Story as something similar to Kidulthood or Adulthood? Kidulthood and Adulthood were good and they did what they did at that time, but Blue Story is a lot grittier. I’d compare Blue Story to Boyz N The Hood and Menace II Society because those are movies that people never forget from the urban world. It’s so gritty, and you realise these are the things that are going on.

Total Film | december 2019



The fan favourite talks biceps, burgers and the Doctor’s binoculars… monitored everything that I ate. I felt incredible. She was putting all these oils in which really help your brain. But then I’ll have a blow-out every so often. Sometimes they’ll order Shake Shack [burger] trucks to set. I’ll indulge in that.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to set? When I was shooting Jumanji: The Next Level, the first thing I would do is an arm workout. When you’re in a film with The Rock, you’ve got to do at least five minutes on the biceps! When I directed The Party’s Just Beginning, everyone was looking at me for all of the answers. It was just surreal. So cool. And basically I had all the answers, because I wrote the piece, visualised it, and storyboarded the whole thing. What on-set superstitions do you have, if any? I actually really try to stop any superstition from getting too powerful in my life. If I allow it to build, then it could take over. I’m prone to that. I’ve definitely had things in the past, like an old pen from a script that someone had given to me because I was nervous and he was like, “I always have this with me when I do nerve-wracking things. You can have it.” So I took it, and it went really well, and I was convinced that the pen was the source of all my powers. So I got rid of it [laughs].

John R us s o/s on y

Do you take your phone on set? I always have my phone, and it’s always hidden on the set! If we’re in a spaceship, it’ll be under the console. In Jumanji, it was hidden in the jungle. I’m so bad! I never used to do this. I remember being on Doctor Who and frowning upon phones on set. I just got sucked into this bad habit. I think it’s because there’s so much downtime in the bigger movies. Hot or cold lunch? It’s always hot. I don’t like cold food in general. And I don’t worry about energy lulls, because I will just have some fruit, so it’s natural sugar, in that afternoon period. I’m pretty well-behaved with the food. On Jumanji, they had someone cooking all my meals for me, because I had to play a very athletic hero. This incredible woman called Sam Eastwood

Do you ever sleep on set? I used to do that in my early twenties. But now I can’t nap anymore, and it’s devastating. I’m obsessed with getting a lot of sleep.

‘I can’t nap anymore, and it’s devastating. I’m obsessed with getting a lot of sleep’

Best ever on-set experience? Oh my goodness. Hmmm. My first day on Doctor Who. I don’t think anything can compare to that level of magic at that time of my life. I was 21, and I’d come from complete obscurity to be thrown into a very prominent television show. It’s just like from zero to 100 to actually be on set. I remember looking at Matt Smith, and we were both like, “How did we get here? What is happening?” And it was really fun. I was fearless at that age, like, blindly optimistic. So I was just enjoying every second of it without even worrying about the weight of the situation. Worst on-set experience? I remember on one of the Guardians Of The Galaxy films being dropped from the roof of the studio, in freefall, and then caught at the last second by a machine that was controlling the wire. And I remember being like, “This is worse than any theme park I’ve ever been to.” For a few seconds, it was the worst… and then it was the best! Have you ever stolen anything from the set? Yeah. I took a pair of binoculars from the Tardis, because I felt like I deserved them. I’ve still got those. I’m looking at them now, in my living room. They’re good! JG

Karen Gillan in animated form as Eyes (left) with Rashida Jones’ Marcy (right) in Spies in Disguise.


december 2019 | Total Film


The Avengers face their terrifying new nemesis: a nuclear-powered Ken Loach.

can we talk about...?


Marvel’s Reckoning

Film legends have been laying into the MCU. Do they have a point?


hen Martin Scorsese declared war on Marvel last month, it opened the floodgates. “Despicable,” grumbled Francis Ford Coppola. “I’m not interested,” mumbled Fernando Meirelles. “Like hamburgers,” sniffed Ken Loach. It can only be a matter of time before Nuri Bilge Ceylan calls Ant-Man a crime against humanity.

Disne y

It’s understandable why the old guard might be feeling threatened by the new world order. Superhero cinema currently dominates the box office to an unprecedented degree. Super-folk, some argue, are sucking the oxygen out of cinemas. Going hand-in-hand with Marvel’s stratospheric ascent is Hollywood’s increased dependance on money-spinning franchises. How many Butch Cassidys, Sixth Senses or Pulp Fictions have we missed out on because studios are no longer willing to bankroll the more creatively fertile mid-budget

movie that offers a more modest return on investment? James Gray is a prime example of a mid-budget filmmaker. When we spoke to the Ad Astra director earlier this year, he too compared Marvel movies to hamburgers (keep up, Loachy). And he does have a point. Marvel movies have become the film equivalent of fast food – you know what to expect, that you’ll probably enjoy it, and though it may not be the healthiest choice for every meal,

‘the idea that marvel films aren’t cinema is absurd’ Total Film | december 2019

it doesn’t mean what you’re getting is devoid of nutritional value. As the biggest kid in the playground, Marvel can take a pile-on. Its films are beloved because they marry heartfelt, crowdpleasing storytelling with awe-inspiring big screen spectacle. Endgame broke box-office records because it was appointment viewing, a shared cinematic event like no other. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, of course. The elder statesemen of moviedom are right in as much as superhero films are different from what’s come before, and they can’t be all that studios are willing to sink their money into if we want a healthy film industry. But the idea that they aren’t cinema (whatever that means) is absurd. And if Cap and co. encourage more people to leave the comfort of their home cinemas and experience the real deal, it can only be a good thing. JF






Big 38 KNIVES OUT Rian’s slaughter...


L ionsg at e , Ne t f l i x , Son y P ic t ur e s R el e a sing


Total Film | DECEMBER 2019

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Every saga has an ending… The Rise Of Skywalker is the conclusion of not just the new trilogy, but the entire nine-episode Star Wars saga. Total Film talks to J.J. Abrams and his cast about endings, emotions, and the return of the Emperor… Words JACK SHEPhERD

december 2019 | Total Film


D R I V E R ’ S E D U C A T I O N Working with many of the planet’s greatest directors, Adam Driver has established himself as one of America’s most celebrated actors. And now he’s ramping it up with Marriage Story, The Report and The Rise Of Skywalker. Total Film meets the star who still believes his career is down to timing, not talent. Words JAMES MOTTRAM

unday, 11am, in London’s Ham Yard Hotel. Not the most palatable time to meet one of Hollywood’s finest, perhaps. But an audience with Adam Driver means fitting into an insanely demanding schedule. He’s just arrived in the city from Belgium, where he’s filming Annette, the new Sparksscored rock-opera musical from the brilliant, elusive French director Leos Carax. Last night he joined another Annette – Bening – on the London Film Festival red carpet for Scott Burns’ CIA exposé The Report; while today it’s the turn of Noah Baumbach’s exhilarating drama-of-the-heart Marriage Story, and an impending audience Q&A. “That sounds very scary,” he gulps. With Episode IX of the Star Wars saga, The Rise Of Skywalker, also due before the year is out, it’s the sort of pressure that might flatten some. But Driver is resolute, relaxed. Dressed in jeans, black denim jacket and a lumberjack-check shirt – more high-street casual than designer label chic – he radiates blue-collar warmth.

Total Film | december 2019

T r unk / M AT T HE W BR OOK E S


Adam driver



The Lady Bird team reunite to create another relevant, fresh study of young womanhood – but this time with petticoats. Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan talk the modernity of Little Women, chasing down Florence Pugh and sockskating with Timothée Chalamet. If you’re sitting comfortably, let us begin…

Words Jane crowther

Total Film | december 2019

little women

o was my North Star,” Greta Gerwig tells Total Film in her idiosyncratic breathless, sing-song cadence that makes everything sound giddily exciting when we catch up with her for a brisk October walk through New York. “I think it’s almost indistinguishable for me – wanting to be a writer and a creator, and my love for Jo. I don’t know what came first.” She’s rhapsodising about Jo March, the gusty, uncompromising, direct and honest tomboy in Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel following four Victorian-era sisters through adolescence to adulthood via joy, heartbreak, death and singed skirts. Jo – with her lust for the arts, clear-eyed sense of self and ear for language – is a character who could be Gerwig after last year’s triumphant directorial debut with Lady Bird, which took her all the way to the Academy Awards. And it’s especially true of the way Gerwig went after Little Women, demanding a meeting with producer Amy Pascal in 2016, sure she was the person to interpret a new, pertinent version despite having never directed before. “I went in, and I said, ‘This movie is about art and women and money, and it’s about the impossibility of all three. It’s about: how do you become an adult, and keep the part of you that was a brave girl alive?’” she shouts over traffic. “I said I should [direct]. And in [any] case, I was able to write the script. So I wrote the script. And then I went away, and I directed Lady Bird. By the time I was done with that, they said, ‘We’re interested in making this movie, and you can direct it...’ The day after the Oscars, I went to a cabin in the woods with all my research and I spent two weeks there alone, trying to figure out if I was true and worthy of this task.” In London, her Lady Bird star, Saoirse Ronan, is less self-deprecating about the hire. “When Lady Bird came out, it was not only a phenomenal film and so brilliantly made, but it made money and did well. I think anyone would be an idiot to doubt Greta’s ability to put a great movie together at this stage, you know?” Ronan certainly didn’t doubt it and had her own Jo moment when she uncharacteristically campaigned to play the lead, variously played by Katharine Hepburn (1933), June Allyson (1949) and Winona Ryder (1994) in previous


december 2019 | Total Film


Assembling 76

MCU casting director Sarah Finn is like Marvel Studios’ very own Nick Fury, scouring the globe to find the very best Total Film | december 2019

theAvengers talent to don the supersuits. Total Film meets the woman responsible for discovering the biggest heroes in cinema. Words Josh Winning




Gugu Mbatha-Raw brings beauty and brains to Edward Norton’s enthralling crime-drama Motherless Brooklyn, and has a stunning 2020 slate. Total Film meets the class act who wants to use her movies to change the world…

Jon t y D av ie s / A UGUST

Words Jane Crowther

was a little bit star-struck by Alec Baldwin,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw admits with a smile as she curls up in a huge chair in the library of Soho Hotel and contemplates her stellar co-stars on Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn. “He’s just a cultural icon, really, and now he’s so famous with the Trump stuff as well. And he’s got such a presence on screen and in person. He’s slightly intimidating initially…” She trails off as she politely flags down a passing waiter to ask for tap water. Turning back, she asks, “Where were we?” december 2019 | Total Film


Interview In tervie w Jamie Gr aham por tr ait Gr eg Williams

It was never my goal to make it in America. For me, it’s just been trying to be as truthful as possible


Stephen Graham gr eg williams/augus t

A go-to guy for Shane Meadows and Martin Scorsese, Stephen Graham is one of Britain’s most volcanic and versatile actors. Earlier this year he wowed in TV series The Virtues, and now, after playing Baby Face Nelson and Al Capone, he’s playing another iconic criminal in Marty’s mob epic The Irishman.

Total Film | december 2019

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Our countdown of the top 100 films of the decade reaches its electrifying climax here, as we crown our top 10 films of the last 10 years. The cream of the crop includes one dazzingly emotional animation, a couple of formula-busting coming-of-agers, and several sci-fi films that have pushed the genre to its limits. So, settle in as we unveil our top 10 films of the decade, featuring brand-new interviews with the people who brought them to life.



How Nolan’s suspenseful thriller won over audiences. WORDS MATT MAYTUM


unkirk was very new territory for Nolan. A movie of pure suspense set during one of the most remarkable moments in World War 2, it was a period ensemble based on true events. “Every time you put out a film, you don’t know what to expect, and it never gets any easier,” Nolan told TF in 2017, after Dunkirk had been named our film of the year. “We were very nervous about what the reaction would be.” He didn’t need to worry; Dunkirk became his biggest film ever at the UK box office. “We were really delighted that the film clearly resonated with British people,” he continued. “You don’t make films entirely for box office, but as an expression of the film having connected with audiences, it’s really, really rewarding.” The film grossed a total of $527m worldwide, no mean feat given it’s not based

on existing characters, and features an unknown cast front and centre. The sparse script made Dunkirk a different proposition to Nolan’s previous work. “In stripping away the dialogue, you’re confronted with how much the dialogue defines your process on other films,” he said. Without the lines to track the progress of a day’s shooting, Nolan and co had to take a new approach. “In a sense, you were freer,” he explained. “But in another sense, it really made you have to analyse very specifically, visually, creatively with Hoyte [van Hoytema, cinematographer] and Nathan [Crowley, production designer] and everyone: what is the fundamental element that we have to achieve today that progresses the story, purely in visual terms?” In terms of pure cinema, there’s been little else like Dunkirk: shot on large-format film, it

demanded to be seen on the biggest screen possible. Its most important audience, though, were the Dunkirk veterans (including some of those Nolan had spoken to during the writing process) who attended the first screening. “It was a very, very nerve-wracking screening. I sort of nervously told them all at the beginning that when I made the Dark Knight films, it was like I would have to screen those to Bruce Wayne – which got a chuckle. It sort of speaks to the real sense of responsibility I felt to them. And I don’t want to speak for them or put words in their mouths, but in talking to them afterward, there was a great emotion. And overall, the thing that I would be comfortable saying is that I felt they were very glad that their story was being told.” DUNKIRK IS AVAILABLE ON DVD AND BLU-RAY.


Nolan brought his unique perspective to this WW2 epic, tackling the turningpoint evacuation of the titular French beach. Examining the action from air, land and sea, Dunkirk had a complex but elegant structure based around three timelines. The practical approach to the effects (real boats, real planes, real beach) popped on IMAX, and Hans Zimmer’s tick-tock score cranked up the gut-churning tension, but heartfelt performances provided emotional heft beneath the carnage. MM STANDOUT SCENE After downing a dive-bomber, pilot Farrier lands on the sand.







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Total Film 292 (Sampler)  

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Total Film 292 (Sampler)  

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