Jeremy Strong: ‘I try to bring as much empathy as I can’
November 25, 2019 § Leave a comment
NEW YORK — As Kendall Roy, an heir to a Murdoch-like family media empire competing with his siblings for primacy, power and paternal approval on HBO’s “Succession,” Jeremy Strong has gone through the wringer.
In two seasons, the actor, 40, has embodied Kendall as he has been undermined by his father, tormented by his own shortcomings and misdeeds, and hollowed out by addiction. All the while, Strong has made us care about this wealthy, jet-setting mess of a man.
Sitting in a modest conference room in New York’s Hudson Yards, sporting a scraggly beard (he’s portraying Jerry Rubin in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7”), earth-toned clothing suitable for a Yale English-lit grad (which he is) and a silver necklace bearing his 18-month-old daughter’s footprint (his second child is due as we speak), and peppering his conversation with references to writers and artists (Balzac, Rilke, Twombly, Ferlinghetti, among many others), Strong muses on why audiences are invested in Kendall and the Roys.
“You can be human and also reprehensible,” Strong observes. “These people are wounded, damaged by their legacy. I try to bring as much empathy as I can.” …
As Kendall in ‘Succession,’ Jeremy Strong draws on the Murdochs … and Shakespeare (Los Angeles Times)
4 new shows that connect
November 19, 2019 § Leave a comment
The best TV shows introduce us to new worlds and reveal something about our own. That’s definitely true of “Euphoria,” “Modern Love,” “The Morning Show” and “Watchmen,” four of this year’s most interesting new shows. On the surface, the series — about troubled teens, people in love, workers in the age of #MeToo and masked heroes, respectively — could not be more different, but on a deeper level, they all seek to help us better understand and empathize with one another, overcome collective and personal trauma and find connections ….
‘Watchmen,’ ‘Euphoria’ among new shows that cry out for awards season attention (Los Angeles Times)
Elisabeth Moss is no riot-grrrl (but she plays one in ‘Her Smell’)
November 7, 2019 § Leave a comment
New York — In “Her Smell,” Elisabeth Moss’ third collaboration with director-writer Alex Ross Perry, which hit theaters in April 2019, the actress plays Becky Something, the raw, reckless, strung-out yet brilliant lead singer of an iconic ’90s riot-grrrl trio called Something She, who, when we first meet her, is spinning out of control and in danger of taking down everyone around her. Moss has been nominated for a Gotham Award for the role.
Think Courtney Love, because everybody does, although Moss — probably best known for her TV roles in “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” — says she and Perry, with whom she also co-produced the film, found inspiration in other performers, including Amy Winehouse, Marilyn Monroe, Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain.
Seated on a tweedy armchair, demurely sipping a Moscow Mule beside a crackling fireplace on a crisp October evening in a clubby cocktail lounge on New York’s Upper East Side and looking nothing like a dissolute rocker, Moss muses, “Becky was everyone and no one.” …
‘Her Smell’!? Yeah, Elisabeth Moss was turned off by her film’s title at first too (Los Angeles Times)
An uncorseted conversation with the actresses of ‘Mrs. Maisel’
August 15, 2019 § Leave a comment
New York — Fans of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amy Sherman-Palladino’s intoxicating, award-winning TV show about a 1950s housewife launching a standup-comedy career, are used to seeing Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and Marin Hinkle inhabit a deliciously retro, candy-colored world filled with figure-enhancing frocks and perfect prewar apartments. Each is contained and restrained within the proscribed bonds of her role in the world.
So seeing these actresses (who play, respectively, Miriam “Midge” Maisel; Midge’s manager, Susie Myerson; and Midge’s mother, Rose Weissman) sitting together on a leather couch, loosely clad in muted hues and playfully posing for photos in an industrial-chic Brooklyn studio can create a sense of cognitive dissonance
At its core, “Maisel,” its third season due soon on Amazon, is about women finding their voices, and on this summer Saturday, the Emmy-nominated actresses seem pleased to share theirs in an uncorseted conversation about how far we as a society have come — and still have to go …
‘Mrs. Maisel’ actresses battle restraints on women — then and now (Los Angeles Times)
John Krasinski is a hugger
December 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
New York — As warm and intelligent as John Krasinski appears onscreen — in roles ranging from Jim on NBC’s “The Office” to the title character on Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” — he is even more so in person. Krasinski is a guy who asks questions and considers answers, who relishes engaging with people, experiences and ideas, who offers not a handshake but a hug.
It was that curiosity and craving to connect that prompted the actor to star in, rewrite and direct “A Quiet Place,” a horror film about a family silently struggling to survive in a world ravaged by sound-averse aliens. The movie, which also stars Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt, as well as child actors Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, has grossed more than $330 million worldwide since its April release.
Initially reluctant, Krasinski is now working on a sequel, set to arrive in May 2020, which he describes as “not a sequel of a character or family,” but “of a world.” He won’t say more about that, but in a quiet NYC hotel suite, happily discussed almost anything else …
Q&A: John Krasinski looked to the emotion of ‘Quiet Place,’ not the jump scares (Los Angeles Times)
Daniel Kaluuya on the real horror in ‘Get Out’
December 21, 2017 § Leave a comment
Anyone who has seen Jordan Peele’s horror/social-satire “Get Out” understands the intense appeal of Daniel Kaluuya. As Chris, a young black photographer who gets sucked into a racial nightmare — a “sunken place” — when he visits the family of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams), the British actor takes audiences to places that are honest and true and, for many, difficult and discomfiting.
The $4.5-million film has earned more than $252 million worldwide following its February release, been embraced by critics and is earning awards buzz, but its deeper success is the fresh perspective on race it has offered and the frank conversations about racism — the real horror at the film’s heart — it has stirred.
Energetically tucking into a passel of small plates in the funky, history-tweaking lounge at New York’s Beekman Hotel, SAG nominee Kaluuya, whose next movie is “Black Panther,” dives into just such a raw conversation with equal enthusiasm …
‘Get Out’ finally addresses a racial climate long not voiced, says star Daniel Kaluuya (Los Angeles Times)
Kristin Scott Thomas: ‘Words are important’
December 21, 2017 § Leave a comment
“Regal” may be the word to describe Kristin Scott Thomas as she sits in the warmly lighted lobby of New York City’s Lowell Hotel sipping an espresso she ordered in French. Also “cosmopolitan,” “posh,” “chic”: An animal-print coat drapes across her shoulders like an exotic cape.
“Words are important to me,” the actress, most famous, perhaps, for her 1996 Oscar-nominated role in “The English Patient,” says, sometimes trying on several before settling on one she likes.
It was the script along with her admiration for the director and the woman she would be portraying that prompted Scott Thomas to overcome her initial reluctance to take the role as Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine, in Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” alongside a remarkable turn by Gary Oldman as Churchill. The film depicts Churchill’s early weeks as prime minister, his bold decision to stand firm against the Nazis and launch Operation Dynamo, the risky rescue of soldiers from Dunkirk, and points to the role Clementine’s support played at a pivotal moment in history.
Scott Thomas, as Clemmie, isn’t on the screen that much, but she makes the most of every moment, turning in a nuanced, elegant and deeply researched performance (she devoured biographies, consulted historians and spoke with surviving relatives) that adds emotional weight and depth …
‘Darkest Hour’ mirrors modern-day dangerous times, says Kristin Scott Thomas (Los Angeles Times)
The flawed-everyman charm of Paul Giamatti
June 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
Paul Giamatti has spent two decades bringing his flawed-everyman charm to diverse roles: frustrated writer, Founding Father, even God. For two seasons, in Showtime’s “Billions,” he has brought it to Chuck Rhoades, a U.S. attorney locked in an alpha-dog struggle with hedge-fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis).
In Giamatti’s first ongoing TV role (no one had ever offered him one before, he says), Chuck has a complex relationship with power — as well as with his wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff). Serenely sipping water in a quiet Brooklyn bistro, Giamatti says he enjoys exploring Chuck’s “nooks and crannies and layers” and carefully reveals a few of his own …
Paul Giamatti explores male power and the clash of egos in ‘Billions’ (Los Angeles Times)
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys throw sparks
June 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
One thing that makes FX’s lauded Cold War drama “The Americans” so compelling is the chemistry between Keri Russell, who starred in four seasons of “Felicity” in her early 20s, and Welsh actor Matthew Rhys. As Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, Russian spies living as Americans in 1980s suburbia, they make their kids’ lunches and then slip away to don disguises, seduce sources and break necks for the Motherland.
But Russell and Rhys’ electricity on the show, created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg and just having finished its fifth season before a 10-episode sprint to a series finale, is nothing compared to the sparks they throw off in real life.
Settling into the series’ writers room in gritty Gowanus in New York’s Brooklyn, surrounded by whiteboards with scribbled plot points and grainy show stills, the couple, who have an infant son (Russell also has two children from a previous relationship), are clearly simpatico — finishing each other’s thoughts and cracking each other up …
‘The Americans’ and its stars forge on — who knew Russian spies could be so relevant? (Los Angeles Times)
Jonah Hill is not a bro
November 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
Efraim Diveroli, the character Jonah Hill plays in the summer film “War Dogs,” Todd Phillips’ based-on-a-true-story film about two Yeshiva-educated Miami twentysomethings (Miles Teller plays the other) who rake in millions with a shady business supplying arms to the U.S. military during the war in Afghanistan, is probably not a guy you’d want to meet for lunch. Loud, duplicitous and greedy in the extreme, Efraim is a character who, if initially charming, would almost certainly leave you feeling compromised: You could imagine him ordering heaps of the priciest thing on the menu and then — laughing — leaving you holding the check.
Hill, apart from the charm, is nothing like that. Over lunch on a rainy Thursday in New York City, at his usual table at the rustic-Italian restaurant Il Buco, the 32-year-old actor, who has memorably appeared in such films as “Superbad,” “21 Jump Street,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Moneyball,” earning Oscar nods with those last two, is polite, thoughtful and engaging. He’s the kind of guy who will hold your chair and offer you the first bite of his risotto. (“Want some?” he asks, with apparent sincerity.)
Burned by the press for not being as bro-ish as some of his roles might indicate (“People want me to be a loud comedian and it’s just, unfortunately, not who I am,” he says, ruefully — though he claims partial responsibility for a notoriously bad 2013 Rolling Stone interview he says therapy has helped him push past), Hill, who hails from Los Angeles and lives in New York, comes off as careful, perhaps a bit chastened, yet candid and generous as he entertained questions about, among other topics, a performance critics have hailed as a standout in an otherwise dismissable film …
Taking risks and not playing it safe are what draw Jonah Hill to those non-‘bro’ roles (Los Angeles Times)