According to The Hollywood Reporter, best-selling author Dan Brown will be handling script rewrites on adapting his third novel featuring symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon, THE LOST SYMBOL, to the screen for Columbia Pictures. The story involves Langdon traveling to the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., where he gets involved with a mystery involving the Freemasons and their search for an ancient pyramid containing vast knowledge. When the book was published in 2009, it sold a million copies in its first day. While the previous two movies – “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons” – starred Tom Hanks and were directed by Ron Howard, both have yet to commit to the third installment.
The Associated Press is reporting that award-winning Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (“Hero”) is starting his next film, NANJING HEROES, in January with actor Christian Bale starring as a priest caught up in the brutal 1937 invasion and pillaging of the Chinese capitol by Japanese troops. Based on Chinese author Yan Geling’s novel “The 13 Women of Nanjing,” about 13 prostitutes who stepped in for female university students who were to be taken as “escorts” for the troops during the period when nearly 20,000 women and girls were raped and killed by the Japanese troops, Bale’s Catholic priest shelters a group of prostitutes and female students during the invasion. The $90 million production, one of the most expensive in Chinese history, will mix Chinese and English, and is set for release in December 2011.
Gemma Arterton (“Clash of the Titans”) let slip to Total Film that she will star in Michael Mann’s Robert Capa biopic, CAPA, alongside Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”). She said she’s “aiming for even more diversity. Capa [biopic about the combat photographer Robert Capa] is confirmed, so I should be working with your hottest actor, Andy Garfield!” Arterton would play Capa’s partner, Gerda Taro, but it is not confirmed yet that “Spider-Man” star Andrew Garfield is on board to play Capa. Mann’s project at Sony will concentrate on Capa’s torrid two-year romance with fellow photographer Taro during the Spanish Civil War.
MMM’s OSCAR NOMINEES
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
The Kids Are All Right
Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
Tahar Rahim, “A Prophet”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Carey Mulligan, “Never Let Me Go”
Emma Stone, “Easy A”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
Elle Fanning, “Somewhere”
Rebecca Hall, “Please Give”
Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
Jacques Audiard, “A Prophet”
David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Lee Unkrich, “Toy Story 3”
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“127 Hours” – Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle
“The Social Network” – Aaron Sorkin
“Toy Story 3” – Michael Arndt
“True Grit” – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
“Winter’s Bone” – Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Daniel Woodrell
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Inception,” Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right,” Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
“The King’s Speech,” David Seidler
“Another Year,” Mike Leigh
“Black Swan,” Andres Heinz, Mark Heyman
“Waiting for Superman”
“Exit Through the Gift Shop”
“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Toy Story 3”
“How To Train Your Dragon”
HOT NEW TRAILERS
The film, opening in limited release on February 11, 2011, stars Ed Helms as an insurance agent who leaves his small town for the first time, representing his company at a convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Anne Heche, John C. Reilly, Sigourney Weaver and Isiah Whitlock Jr. also star.
Written and directed by Kevin Smith (“Clerks”), the film represents a return to Smith’s indie roots and also a try at something new, delving into the horror genre with his take on extreme fundamentalism in Middle America. The film stars Michael Angarano, Melissa Leo, and John Goodman, and will make its premiere at Sundance.
With her dark, square cut bob, schoolgirl uniform and sassy pout, actress Gemma Arterton made quite a splash as anti-ingénue Kelly Jones in the British laffer “St. Trinian’s.” The film went on to become a cult hit in the U.K. spawning several sequels and catching the admiring gaze of Hollywood, where Arterton would go on to star as Bond Girl ‘Strawberry Fields’ opposite Daniel Craig in “Quantum of Solace,” followed by the female lead in a pair of sword-and-sandals epics – “Clash of the Titans,” alongside Sam Worthington, and “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. On the surface, her success story seems like the combination of stunning looks and a Gladwellian stroke of luck.
Arterton was born in Gravesend, Kent, England, to a Sally-Anne, a cleaner, and Barry, a welder. As a child, she suffered from polydactylism – having six fingers on each hand, and, following her parents divorce when she was five, was raised by her single mother on a council estate. Arterton worked as a makeup salesgirl whilst enrolled in school, and eventually, through hard work and perseverance, won a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She appeared in the BBC series “Capturing Mary” and as Rosaline in the Globe Theatre’s revival of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” while still enrolled at RADA, before beating out Sienna Miller for the lead of “St. Trinian’s,” and 1,500 other women for ‘Strawberry Fields.’ In addition to her blockbusters, she’s also appeared in supporting roles in Guy Ritchie’s heist film “RockNRolla,” and Richard Curtis’s ode to music, “The Boat That Rocked.”
In her latest film, J Blakeson’s THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED, Arterton is out to make a statement; to prove that she’s not just a pretty face. She plays Alice Creed, a wealthy socialite who’s kidnapped by a pair of ex-convicts – played by Martin Compston (Ken Loach’s “Sweet Sixteen”) and Eddie Marsan (Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky”). Bound naked and gagged, it’s a huge departure for the glamorous Arterton who navigates the plots twists and turns like a seasoned pro. She “can turn from wounded innocent to wanton seductress on a dime,” and “has a chance of becoming a big star,” said The Globe and Mail.
MMM sat down with Gemma Arterton to chat about her most challenging role to date, juggling Hollywood and indies, and how Lars Von Trier made her want to become an actress.
MANHATTAN MOVIE MAGAZINE: Did you do this right after “Prince of Persia?”
GEMMA ARTERTON: I did this right after “Persia” literally about two weeks after I wrapped, and then I started “Titans” about a week after this. And then I went on holiday after this one since I was so exhausted. It took a lot out of me. It was great to put this in the middle. It was kind of my “fix” before I did another blockbuster. I needed to do it because I needed to see if I could. I was starting to think, “I don’t know if I’m actually any good at acting.” It’s quite hard, sometimes, in a bigger movie… I’m not gonna go there, really. But I needed to do something really difficult. I needed to do something that scared me.
MMM: You needed something that stretched you.
ARTERTON: We Brits don’t make [thrillers] very well. We usually make comedies or kitchen sink dramas. I read it and really wanted to do it, but the director said, “No, she’s not right. I don’t think she can manage it.” I thought, “He just thinks that I prance around in princess dresses all the time! I’ll show him!”
MMM: Which scene did you have to do in the audition?
ARTERTON: I had to do the scene with Danny where I find out that he’s my boyfriend. It was a full-on scene to do in the auditions, but I knocked out a tear, gave ‘em the Gemma Arterton special! [Laughs] He was impressed by that. People are always impressed by that for some reason. Later on, cause he’s a friend now, he said, “I feel really bad that I made that judgment.” And I said, “You have good reason to because everything I’d down since then had been really poppy.” I’d done some TV stuff but nobody had really seen that. At that point it was “Bond” and “St. Trinian’s” and “RocknRolla.” Roles in big movies, but I don’t consider them turning points in my career. Alice Creed is more of a raw role. Something more than turning around and [pouting].
MMM: Did you have any time to prepare for the role?
ARTERTON: No. It was very last-minute, this film. I was the first one cast and that was maybe a month before we started shooting. And then they cast the boys. They cast Martin, who played Eddie, last – about two weeks before we started shooting. Then we had about a week of rehearsal, which is where we basically just practiced the moves of the kidnap and various fights. But with this role I thought, “What do I prepare?” No matter how much preparation you do for a character, when you’re put into an extreme situation, you’re just in the moment, in anxiety, fighting for survival. It was good to be underprepared. I hate when you rehearse scenes because you lose the impulse. It felt like a really ragged, raw process because we only had a month to make it. For “Prince of Persia” we had six months for the same running time. On “Prince of Persia,” sometimes we’d have a week for one scene, whereas on “Alice Creed,” we’d do three scenes a day. There was no room for thinking about it too much and watching the monitor wondering, “Is my head at the right angle?” You get a proper performance because the thought of being an actor doesn’t get in the way. You’re just doing a scene.
MMM: What was it like being bound to a bed?
ARTERTON: The first week, which was all the hardcore stuff, I tried to see what the really tight handcuffs and tight ball-gag were like. But the continuity got really bad because I was getting cuts on my face and bruises on my wrists. So, we just faked it a lot. If it was a close-up of me I would have the ball-gag in very tight, but if it was a wide shot, there was no need. I was on the bed pretty much the whole time and it was easier to not take the stuff off cause it took so long to get in and out of it. Sometimes I just lay there and fell asleep. People would forget I was there and were rigging for the new setup. But I was really trying to disperse the atmosphere that was created from people feeling awkward around me. There was a lot of, “Oh, Gemma’s in a compromising position!” I remember trying to crack jokes while I was naked on the bed, and people just laughing. When you do that it makes the whole day a lot easier for everybody.
MMM: Alice is an interesting character because the first words out of her mouth – claiming she has a daughter – is actually a lie. And she’s not the most sympathetic kidnap victim.
ARTERTON: I love that about it. She’s a heroine to me as a woman but it’s interesting because some people aren’t on Alice’s side. Eddie’s character seems to be the one many people sympathize with because he’s the only one who genuinely feels something for another person. Also, I don’t really like – contrary to popular belief – characters that you really like. It’s boring to play characters that everybody likes and be in films that everybody likes. I don’t particular like Alice when I watch it. She’s stuck up, spoiled. But she’s also incredible in that she’s very clever, feral in her instincts, relentless. I like that she’s flawed. My only worry was that she was going to be really annoying from screaming all the time! [Laughs]
MMM: So are you interested in doing more of these smaller films in between the blockbusters?
ARTERTON: I really love making smaller films, but it’s a different thing making a big film as well. It’s exciting. It’s thrilling to be involved in something big and epic. But I definitely want to try and balance it – with theatre as well. It’s important to do all three, as an actor, to get that experience. Acting in this is an extremely different skill set then acting in a blockbuster.
MMM: You have that upcoming Stephen Frears (“Dangerous Liaisons”) film.
ARTERTON: Yeah! “Tamara Drewe.” I’m really proud of it. It’s a black comedy, but it’s very clever. I don’t think I’ve ever scene anything else like it in terms of genre. I feel like my career has now taken a turn, and I think it was because of “Alice Creed.” I think I challenged people’s perception of me and now I’m getting offered more exciting, interesting roles.
MMM: Was it a challenge going head-to-head with two actors who come from the Mike Leigh and Ken Loach schools of acting?
ARTERTON: Yeah. Again, it was Martin who said, “I was really shocked when I heard you were playing Alice.” God! Everyone thinks I’m this terrible actress! [Laughs] But it’s great. They’re very humble. They were very much about the work and there was no ego attached. They gave me everything they had even when they weren’t on camera. Eddie, for example, has this amazing ability – cause he’s the loveliest guy and so gentle and sweet – he’ll be like [softly], “Are you alright, darling? Is everything OK?” And then he’ll be like, “YOU FUCKING C*NT!” [Laughs] I think, “Wow. This is just somebody who can do it.” It was so refreshing.
MMM: Were there any films that influenced you in your youth?
ARTERTON: I was always more into music then I was into film. I was obsessed with Björk when I was 16 – and I still am a bit. I watched “Dancer in the Dark” on my own at two in the morning and was like, “Fucking hell! What the hell is this?” I was like, “Who made her do that? Who brought her to that point?”
MMM: Do you want to work for Lars Von Trier?
ARTERTON: I do and I don’t. I mean Emily Watson in “Breaking the Waves” – one of my favorite performances ever by a woman. But he does f*ck his actresses up a little bit, I think. Maybe I’ll just enjoy his movies instead! But [“Dancer in the Dark”] was the movie that made me want to become an actress.
MMM: What do you have coming up?
ARTERTON: I might do “Clash of the Titans 2.” I still haven’t seen a script so I think they’re still working on it. I think that’s definitely going. Then, I’ve got a couple of movies that I’m really, really excited about.
MMM: What ever happened with “Wuthering Heights?”
ARTERTON: I got cast in it when it was a different director. The guy who did “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Peter Webber. And I pulled out of it because I thought, “Ugh, I’m not into this.” And then Andrea Arnold (“Fish Tank”) got involved and I thought, “I want it again!” So I tried to meet with Andrea Arnold and convince that just because I’m in pop movies, I’m not pop. So we had a cup of tea and got along really well. But she went, “I think you’re too old for it.” I don’t know if they’re making it now. Oh wait, it’s on. Kaya Scodelario is now playing the role.
MMM: And I heard Ed Westwick of “Gossip Girl” fame is rumored for Heathcliff?
ARTERTON: No, no, no. Well, I hope Andrea Arnold wouldn’t cast a “Gossip Girl” guy. Come on! I think she wanted to get an Indian guy.
MMM: Will there be a “St. Trinian’s 3?”
ARTERTON: I think they’re planning one. I don’t know! I only hear about these things until after everyone else has! [Laughs]
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED opens on August 6th in select theaters and is available on VOD/OnDemand.