Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz


Actress Olivia Wilde is pregnant and expecting her first child with fiance and Saturday Night Live veteran Jason Sudeikis, People magazine reported last weekend.

The 29-year-old Rush actress, who first gained wide attention as Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley on Fox television's medical drama House MD, met Sudeikis, 38, on the 2011 season finale of SNL and they began dating six months later.

They became engaged in January of this year, according to People.

"They are incredibly happy," an unnamed source close to the couple was quoted as telling the magazine. "They're very excited to welcome a new member into their family."

People said representatives for the couple confirmed that Wilde, who co-stars as a 1970s supermodel in Ron Howard's big-screen race car drama Rush, is pregnant with their first child, but there was no word on a due date. Earlier this year, Wilde told fashion magazine Marie Claire that she was excited about starting a family with Sudeikis in the future, saying, "He's so good with kids. ... I'm open-minded about how many, but three is like a little party."

Both performers have been previously married and divorced - Sudeikis to television writer and producer Kay Cannon and Wilde to documentary filmmaker Tao Raspoli. Those unions ended in 2010 and 2011, respectively, without children. -- ReunionBRITISH ACTOR BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH PLAYS JULIAN ASSANGE - OVER THE LATTER'S PROTESTS.

OVER the last year, between work on the multitude of films and TV series Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be involved in (12 Years A Slave, August: Osage County, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Sherlock), the British actor would find himself, now and then, walking along Hans Crescent in the Knightsbridge section of London. He would pass the Embassy of Ecuador, not far from the fabled Harrods department store, and think about dropping in.

Why not? He had a few thoughts he could share with Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has been holed up inside the embassy - and whom Cumberbatch portrays in The Fifth Estate.

"Sadly, I did not go in," says the actor, having just run the red carpet for the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of his true-life cyber-thriller. "I would have liked to meet him. I don't know whether he'd want to, though. And if it did happen, I hope it would be a very private event between two men who have been very oddly drawn together in this strange way."

When The Fifth Estate project was announced - adapted from the books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange And The World's Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War On Secrecy by British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding - Assange contacted Cumberbatch and pleaded for him to beg off. Neither book portrays Assange in the most flattering light, and the Australian-born hacker-turned-journo-trailblazer was not thrilled.

"It's no secret that we've communicated," Cumberbatch says. "We exchanged e-mails at the beginning of the job. Not many. Basically him saying, 'Please don't do this film,' and me saying, 'This is why I feel it's actually not a bad thing, and I do want to do this film.' And that's where that was left.

"I have a real care for him and his real-life situation, because it is very precarious. But this is a film, it's not a documentary, it's not a piece of legal evidence. It's a dramatisation of a certain account of events. There's a lot of caveats there."

Directed by Bill Condon, The Fifth Estate is a whirligig of a movie that traces Assange's rise from a Down Under upstart to a whistle-blowing guru to an international hot potato caught in a sex scandal, and sought by several governments, including the United States, that were not pleased by the release of thousands of top-secret documents on his website.

Along the way, Assange seems to transform from idealist crusader to somewhat meglomaniacal and paranoid figure. Daniel Bruhl, who plays Formula One racing legend Nicki Lauda in Rush, is Assange's early ally-turned-disillusioned ex-WikiLeaks associate Domscheit-Berg.

If you've seen Assange on YouTube, or in Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets documentary, and then you watch Cumberbatch in The Fifth Estate, the mannerisms, gait, rhythms of his speech, look in his eyes, even his dance moves (Assange is a terrible dancer) are dead-on.

Cumberbatch had to change his appearance to look like Assange in The Fifth Estate.

"There's an intelligence, a charisma, which you can't fake, and Assange has that, and Benedict has that, too," says Condon, the director of Gods And Monsters, Kinsey and a little two-part endeavor called The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.

"It's a lot of work. That just doesn't happen easily," the director notes in a separate interview. "It's not dissimilar to what I went through with Ian McKellen in Gods And Monsters and Liam Neeson in Kinsey - British actors who start on the outside and then move in. The first thing is the wig, and the teeth for Benedict, and the frock, and the voice, obviously, and then they go deeper and deeper and deeper."

Condon was also struck by the way his star handled the e-mail entreaties from Assange.

"Just imagine you've got an actor who is that serious and who is already in the process, in rehearsals, and you're about to start shooting - his job, which he takes very seriously, is to channel Assange, is to become Assange. He's not Daniel Day-Lewis, but he did become that person," Condon says.

"So imagine you're doing that, and then you open up your computer, and the person you're channeling - your inner voice - is begging you not to do the film. It was a really unique circumstance that he was in, and I felt such compassion for him. I thought it put a terrible, really unfair strain on Benedict."

For London-born Cumberbatch, 37, another real-life controversial figure is on the horizon: His next role is that of British cryptographer Alan Turing in a historical drama, The Imitation Game. Considered one of the fathers of artificial intelligence - and one of the genius code-breakers working in Britain's fabled Bletchley Park during World War II - Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for being homosexual and forced to undergo chemical castration.

Says the actor, "It's a really powerful and beautiful, beautiful piece of writing, and he was an amazing human being, who is finally and rightfully getting some recognition for the great advances he made.

"It's devastating, really, what happened to him. It really makes you ashamed of a country, at that time, to do that to a man who was so instrumental in shortening the war by anything up to two years, and by doing so, saving millions of lives." - The Philadelphia Inquirer/McClatchy-Tribune Information ServicesA NEWLYWED COUPLE. AN OLD HOUSE. AN ABANDONED DOLL. AND THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS.

HONG Kong horror flick Baby Blues starts off with blogger Snowy (Janelle Sing) and songwriter Tao (Raymond Lam) getting married, and moving into an old house, where Snowy takes a liking to a doll left by the previous owner.

Soon, Snowy is pregnant with twins, which is unusual since neither Tao nor Snowy have a history of twins in their family. Then, a homeless man (Lo Hoi Pang) who lives at the end of their road issues a chilling warning- move out ... or else.

In an e-mail interview, director Leong Po-Chih expressed that he was hoping to make a horror movie that plays with the mind. "We bring the audience into the movie, make them feel like a part of it, then we make them feel the characters' fears.

"Jimmy, the doll, was added into the movie to influence its mother's mind and psychological state. Viewers would then, through the mother's eyes, feel the shivers," said Leong.

The British-born Hong Kong-based film director also shared his thoughts on his main cast for Baby Blues: "I'd hoped to have a fresh face for the leading actress, someone who is not known to the audience, as to draw attention to the emotional turmoil that she goes through. So, we picked newcomer Janelle Sing, who graduated from the Beijing Film Academy.

"As for Raymond Lam, he's an excellent actor with plenty of experience, having played various roles, but he has never acted in any horror film. This 'freshness' matches Janelle's inexperience. Their partnership obviously turned out well like I'd expected. Raymond and Janelle make a compatible on-screen couple.

Child's play: Tau (Raymond Lam) and Snowy (Janelle Sing) are newlyweds living in a nightmare in Baby Blues.

"Karena Ng acts as Janelle's sister. I'd wanted to have a stark contrast between the sisters, one gentle and the other tough. I'd asked that Karena be tough inside out, and she did extremely well.

Leong had actress Kate Tsui play a famous singer secretly in love with Lam. He got her to describe her ideal man and her description lined up to what he expected.

In separate e-mail interviews, Hong Kong TVB actors Lam and Tsui talked about their most memorable scene together in the movie - an underwater sequence.

Lam shared how they had been in the pool the entire day, trying out different angles. "We felt like our skin would peel off anytime. On top of that, Kate isn't good with water; she can't open her eyes in it, but she tried so hard."

Tsui also described how Lam helped her through her toughest scene while filming the movie. "My biggest preparation was to hold my breath and open my eyes underwater. It feels extremely uncomfortable," Tsui said.

"Thankfully Raymond was there to guide me on the set and we managed to complete the scene."

In another email interview, Ng spoke of her biggest challenge in the movie - to film while riding a motorcycle.

"Riding her motorcycle is the only thing my character knows - it is as if her motorcycle is her only friend. Because of that, I had to keep riding. In the introductory sequence, I had to appear on a bike.

"Just that scene alone took us 20 shots, so I had to repeatedly ride back and forth around a bend. Riding a motorcycle takes up so much energy; I think I should work out more often," Ng said.

> Baby Blues haunts local cinemas nationwide from Oct 31.

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