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People in Film | Mélanie Laurent
Updated April 28, 2011
The multi-talented French actress from film to song.
© Photo by Andrew Tepper
Mélanie Laurent | A Natural Beginner
Mike Mills, the writer-director of Beginners, had not envisioned the role of Anna––the quirky, unconventional love interest of Ewan McGregor's Oliver––being played by a French actress. However, Mills asked Mélanie Laurent to audition for the part––and subsequently rewrote the role, tailoring it to her. “Mike Mills saw a clip of a performance that I made on YouTube, and sent me a script which is like a mix of Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry,” Laurent told Kaleem Aftab in an interview in The Independent. “He asked me to send an audition tape ...Because I'm crazy and I didn't want to just say my lines, I made a short film in which a dog talks and contained all the lines and did a voice over. Mike Mills called me and said, 'You just made my movie.' Two weeks after that I was in Los Angeles with Ewan McGregor.”
People in Film | Ewan McGregor
Updated April 25, 2011
The Scottish actor brings talents, looks, and most of all charm to his varied films.
Ewan McGregor | From Start to Beginners
In Mike Mills Beginners, Ewan McGregor plays Oliver Fields, a young graphic artist confronted with a barrage of confusing changes: his 75-year-old dad Hal (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet, then develops cancer; a charming and unpredictable actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent) comes into his life and heart. It’s a multifaceted role of ups and downs, confusion and enlightenment, and, of course, beginnings as well as endings. In addition, the character of Oliver is in many ways a stand in for writer/director Mike Mills, who drew upon his own life experience for the screenplay of Beginners. For Ewan McGregor, “There is a convergence that makes Beginners very rich and complex. It’s a film about losing, about accepting – in this case, accepting your father for who he really is, accepting the fact that someone who is living life to the fullest is going to die, and then coming to terms with such a loss while falling in love.” Of course, McGregor has negotiated emotional complexity in his films for nearly two decades. And he has done so, as he does in Beginners, with a astonishing charm and humor.
People in Film | Christopher Plummer
Updated April 25, 2011
From Von Trapp to Don Juan, from Sherlock Holmes to Santa Claus, Christopher Plummer seems to have played nearly everyone in the history of Western Civilization.
Christopher Plummer | Being Hal
For Christopher Plummer, playing the role of Hal in Mike Mills' Beginners took him into exciting new territory – something that happens very infrequently now for the 80-year-old veteran actor of stage and screen. The father of Ewan McGregor's character, Oliver, Hal is a 75-year-old man who, after his wife of 44 years dies, announces to the world that he is gay. “I've never played a part like that before, on screen or stage,” Plummer told Toronto's Globe and Mail. “It was fascinating.” Collaborating closely with Mills, whose own father came out in similar circumstances, Plummer gained a deep understanding of his character, saying, “I gradually felt as if the part had been written for me. It wasn’t on some distant plane you tried to reach. It was very close.” Hal in Beginners looks set to be one of the defining characters Plummer has portrayed over his long and illustrious career, and the actor says, “I don’t think I’ve ever had as good a time playing a role, anywhere... I found it so touching and funny and charming and innocent. A man whose whole life has changed into the upper register of ecstasy since he’s discovered he can be free is very moving.”
Drawn to Action: Graphic Artists Interpret Hanna
Updated April 19, 2011
Hanna wasn't adapted from a graphic novel, but its non-stop action and striking visuals make it feel like it was. We asked three graphic artists to retro-adapt the film to page.
The Visually Graphic Hanna
Clearly Joe Wright’s thriller Hanna is built for action. The heart-pounding chases, bone-crunching fights, and gun-popping villains are expressed with such visual panache that the film feels as if a graphic novel had come to life. But Hanna is wholly original, and not adapted from anything. To get a sense if what it might look like it we pulled Hanna off the screen and put it on the page, we asked three prominent graphic artist to give us their take on the action yarn.
Joe Wright’s Five Films Behind Hanna
Updated April 11, 2011
Director Joe Wright recounts five very different films that helped him in creating Hanna.
Five Films Behind Hanna
Every filmmaker depends on previous films for ideas, inspiration, and imagery. But for director Joe Wright, the five films that inspired his thriller Hanna also illustrate a wildly imaginative sense of film and film history, one that moves from droll comedies to French classics, from American surrealism to Korean kick-ass thrillers.
Hanna NYC Premiere
Updated April 07, 2011
Jessica Barden's Favorite Female Villains
Updated April 05, 2011
The actress who plays Sophie in Hanna picks five frightening female villains.
Jessica Barden, Actress (Hanna)
In Hanna, Jessica Barden plays Sophie, a sassy teenager on vacation with her folks who happens to befriend a strange girl she unexpectedly meets in Morocco. Unlike her new friend Hanna (Saoirse Ronan), Sophie is your normal teenage girl, complete with an annoying little brother, ridiculous but loving parents, and a healthy knowledge of pop-culture gossip. But Sophie’s normal life ends when she meets Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), the rogue CIA operative out to get Hanna at any cost.
Since Jessica Barden is so good at capturing the giddy teenage essence of Sophie, we asked about the evil her character meets along the way in the form of Marissa Wiegler. Still a teenager herself, Ms. Barden has already made a name for herself in film, stage and television. In 2010, she was nominated for Young British Performer of the Year by the London Critics Circle for her turn in Tamara Drewe. She was praised for her role in the recent West End staging of Jez Butterwoth Jerusalem. And for over a year she was a regular feature on the popular TV series Coronation Street. Since she is so good, we asked her to tell us her five favorite female characters who are really bad.