So tonight there are big scoops about how David Fincher walked away from the movie Sony and Scott Rudin are developing about Apple visionary Steve Jobs, based on the Walter Isaacson book. What an unusual outcome to a story …
Michael Wilkinson, who is nominated for Best Costume Design Oscar for Sony/Annapurna’s American Hustle , began working with costumes on theater productions in Sydney when he was 17. After dabbling behind the scenes on several productions, his interest as a costume designer took hold and he eventually found himself working with director Jim Sharman (best known to American audiences for directing/co-writing The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Together they worked on such theater productions as Jean Genet’s Splendid and The Tempest at the Sydney Opera House. It was the opening night of The Tempest when the director gave him a book about Italian costume designer Piero Tosi, who had worked with such legendary directors as Federico Fellini and Franco Zeffirelli and was nominated for an Oscar in 1972 for his work on director Luchino Visconti’s Death In Venice. “He showed me that costume design is an art form,” said Wilkinson. The Italian master used texture, fabric and design to wrap the essence of the character around an audience, whether it be working-class people or those of the social elite. And Tosi’s artistry in that kind of diversity inspired Wilkinson.
“Every set had to be viewed in the context of the whole,” said Judy Becker, Oscar-nominated production designer for Sony/Annapurna’s American Hustle. “We had to look at the character from where they start and to where they go to … each of those sets has a place in the telling of the personal story.” David O. Russell’s homage to the 1970s tells the story of con men, political corruption and characters who try to negotiate through and rise above their circumstances. The film is nominated for 10 Academy Awards this year, including Best Picture. Becker and set decorator Heather Loeffler, worked together to bring a 1970s realism to the sets.
The film’s central character, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), begins as a low-level con man who has aspirations of greatness. When we first get to know him, he is in his office — a disheveled interior with peeling wallpaper. And, although he has a new desk and black leather couch, everything around it smacks of a certain lack of sophistication. “We know that he hasn’t reached the level of success of where he is going to get to, but we see from the office where he wants to be,” says Becker. “So we put in this modernesque desk that was a little too big for the space. We put things in that were kind of nice and were inspirational but not yet there.”
As Rosenfeld and his lover Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) start building “a business” based on scams and stolen artwork, the office space eventually becomes London and Associates, which flaunts beautiful sculptural and travertine walls. “Most eras have their own color palette. “We used a lot of yellow and blue for this film.” For the Adams’ character, who started as a stripper and then taught herself about design and sophistication from magazines, Becker used “a timeless, beautiful yellow. It wasn’t kitschy and felt very contemporary.” The bedroom is adorned with textured yellow walls that seem to cascade seamlessly down a perfectly matched headboard onto a yellow bedspread. It’s framed by a classic 1970s deep white shag carpet and offset by period-piece white nightstands. The room was built on a stage in Woodburn, MA.
EXCLUSIVE: Between nightly guild screenings and the AFI Fest, you could go to theaters all over Hollywood, throw a rock, and probably hit a great director or actor. One I’m intrigued by is Scott Cooper, whose debut Crazy Heart drew an Oscar for Jeff Bridges and a nomination for Maggie Gyllenhaal. His follow-up Out Of The Furnace threatens to do the same for a stellar ensemble cast of Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana and Sam Shepard. What’s fascinating is Cooper spent years knocking around as an actor, hoping for but never getting the kinds of roles he writes for other actors. He discusses that with Deadline along with the high price of truthful writing, the role of luck, fate and ’70s films in his process, and how painful violence in serious films imprints on a gun-crazy society.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Out Of The Furnace’
Deadline: It would have been hard to think of you in any other context than a struggling actor when you made your directorial debut on Crazy Heart. You put your on-camera background to good use, helping Bridges and Gyllenhaal to career performances. Scripts start coming your way and you latch onto The Low Dweller, the big-money Brad Ingelsby spec that stalled when Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio dropped out. Why did you choose it as the template for Out Of The Furnace?
Scott Cooper: I had very unremarkable career as an actor and wrote a very personal story in Crazy Heart. Robert Duvall, a mentor and close friend who let me get married on his farm, produced my first film and to have a guy like, who speaks the language of actors, get behind you was key. That film met with some modest success, and then I’m starting at a pile of scripts after never being offered anything in my life as an actor. I have kids to feed, but I want to stay true to myself. I said no to a lot of scripts that went on to become very good films that shall remain nameless. Ridley and Michael Costigan really loved Crazy Heart and so did the folks at Leo’s Appian Way. They offered me The Low Dweller, which received acclaim around town when Leonardo and Ridley were going to do it. I was in a place where I only wanted to tell personal stories. The script was very well written, but I didn’t want to film some of the themes that coursed through it and said no. They came back and said, why don’t you take carte blanche with it? I do have a brother, and there was this seed in that script that ultimately became the movie. A man gets out of prison and avenges the loss of his brother. From there, I personalized my life and turned it into something I felt would resonate.
OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros. While I know I will be incurring the Wrath of Khan from a certain segment of Deadline readers for saying this, I do not share the alarm expressed by just about all 300+ Deadline commenters who’ve condemned the move and feel it’s awful for Affleck, Warner Bros, and humanity as a whole.
This is the biggest Affleck surprise I can recall since I saw Gone Baby Gone and was surprised to see that he was a helluva filmmaker. I guess what I’m saying is, Affleck has earned some rope from us; he knows what he is doing. I know he’s read the script, and he loves the concept. After watching Robert Downey Jr unexpectedly (at the time) establish himself as a global superstar after he auditioned for and won over Marvel for Iron Man, I see a lot of upside for Affleck to bolster his global viability, without a lot of career risk. This is a giant coup for the fledgling Greg Silverman-Sue Kroll regime at Warner Bros. Not only in their effort to create global hits, but also in their effort to strengthen studio ties to Affleck after the turbulent exit of Jeff Robinov (who’ll be looking to bring guys like Affleck over if and when he ever takes the top film job at Fox).
Even though I couldn’t understand all of the gravelly dialogue lines he delivered from beneath the Batmask, Christian Bale’s three turns as the Caped Crusader gave him global cred. They didn’t discount his other screen performances, either. That’s because, like Affleck and Downey, Bale wasn’t a newcomer when he took the job (newbies from George Reeves to Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh seem to get imprinted by the role and disappear after). His Batman persona also didn’t stop Oscar voters from giving Bale the trophy for his performance in The Fighter.
Affleck isn’t the same guy he was when he made 2003′s Daredevil, or when he hurt his career by starring with off-screen squeeze Jennifer Lopez in Gigli. After that, he smartly worked his tail off to write his career a second act as a writer-director who stars in his own films. That is his identity now. He’s the guy who directed, produced and starred in the reigning Best Picture Oscar winner Argo, and he has The Town and Gone Baby Gone under his belt. Name another filmmaker outside of Christopher Nolan whose last three films stack up with that kind of quality? Even if he moonlights as Batman, it doesn’t change that true identity. And I thought he did a great job acting in Argo and The Town.
Also, those painful career lessons made Affleck shrewdly selective. If this works, he will have created a great role he can return to in between his directorial outings, the same way that Downey will do for future Avengers installments. Affleck won’t have to carry these movies himself, and I’d be surprised if he made a freestanding Batfilm.
I have been waiting for Warner Bros to turn a corner with its DC Comics crimefighter universe, beyond Batman and Superman. They’ve taken a step in that direction even if it is by combining those two characters. Now, they have a bona fide leading man in the fold (because Henry Cavill could not pack a movie house right now if he wasn’t wearing the red cape). Suddenly, the next step, the inevitable Justice League film, looks intriguing and I bet more big names will enlist by the time that movie gets made. Sure, I’d feel better if Nolan was still steering it all, but a lot of people liked Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. The DC franchise effort seems to be in good hands. And imagine if Affleck really likes the job enough to rescind his previous pass and direct that Justice League movie?
Relativity Media recently moved Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper‘s drama into the heart of Oscar season with a Thanksgiving week limited release. Check out the first trailer for Out Of The Furnace, starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana …
EXCLUSIVE: Don’t consider this etched in stone yet, but it looks like Fox is putting a rush on the Moses movie it has been developing with Ridley Scott. I’m hearing that the director and studio are courting Christian Bale to star. The project is called Exodus, which was originally scripted by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. Peter Chernin and his Chernin Entertainment bought the film as a pitch and they are producing with Scott and his Scott Free, which joined later. Now it has become a big priority after Steve Zaillian signed on to do a rewrite. Zaillian teamed with Scott on American Gangster. Scott is looking to mobilize this as soon as he completes The Counselor. The talks with Bale are early stage.
This comes as Warner Bros deals with Steven Spielberg dropping out of its mega-Moses project, Gods And Kings, the epic-sized film about life of Moses based on the script by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. The studio’s Hail Mary pass is trying to secure the services of Ang Lee, fresh from his Oscar win for Life Of Pi.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Working Title are teaming with Emmett/Furla Films on Everest, a mountain climbing disaster film that The Deep helmer Baltasar Kormakur will direct, with Christian Bale in talks to star. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce with WT’s Liza Chasin, along with Evan Hayes. Emmett/Furla’s Randall Emmett and George Furla are in discussions to co-finance the film and join in a producing capacity as well. Justin Isbell wrote the most recent script draft.
Bale is in early talks to star in a tale based on the 1996 disastrous expedition to scale Mount Everest. Three different expeditions were hit by a sudden blinding storm and by the time it was all over, eight climbers died. The tale was first made famous by Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, his first-person account of being among the lucky ones to make it back down the mountain. This film will be sourced from various books and interviews with survivors.
There is another studio film entitled Everest, the one at Sony Pictures that has Doug Liman attached to direct a Sheldon Turner adaptation of the Jeffrey Archer book. That film is same mountain, different tale, as Tom Hardy is attached to play Sir George Mallory in his quest to be the first to the top of Everest in the 1920s.
Kormakur seems a strong match for what will be a rugged shoot. He’s coming off The Deep, an Icelandic fact-based drama that was shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and which told the story of one man’s unbelievable ordeal of being the lone survivor after a fishing vessel went down in icy waters. Everyone else perished from hypothermia and drowning, but one man swam for hours until he reached the shore, in temperatures no human should have been able to survive. Shooting the film was a cold and harrowing experience as well.
Back in March, Deadline revealed that David O Russell had Christian Bale poised to star in the drama he was putting together, under the title American Bullshit. Shortly after, we told you that Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures was stepping up to finance the film. All of it got confirmed today. Here is the release:
(LOS ANGELES, CA) OCTOBER 5, 2012 – Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams will be joined by Christian Bale in David O. Russell’s ensemble drama. Russell’s penning the film’s screenplay with Eric Warren Singer, based on Singer’s original script.
The upcoming film marks the director’s first time working with Renner (two-time Academy Award nominee), and his second collaborations with Bale (Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor for “The Fighter”), Adams (three-time Academy Award nominee including “The Fighter”) and Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”). David O. Russell¹s acclaimed “Silver Linings Playbook” garnered the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.