The worst-kept secret of the superhero film universe is now official: Marvel has finally confirmed that Vin Diesel is voicing Groot, the extraterrestrial plant monster of comics lore, in James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy. The Fast & Furious star has been teasing the role for months and posted a photo over the weekend posing with his onscreen alter ego. Gunn added via Facebook: “Yep it is completely official. AND he’s amazing. I never knew someone could say I AM GROOT so many different ways and with such feeling (and that sounds like I’m kidding but I’m not!)” Diesel stars in the cosmic superteam actioner alongside Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax. The Marvel pic hits theaters August 1, 2014. See any resemblance below?
I am endlessly fascinated by the number of artists who damage their careers with dumb, self-important expressions of thought on Twitter, Facebook and other viral outlets. You don’t have to be Jack Kevorkian to see that the misguided need to service ego with viral expression is becoming a fantastic way to attempt career suicide. This week alone, we’ve seen Two And A Half Men’s Angus T. Jones flat-line his professional future like he was drinking tiger blood, after condemning as “filth” the show that pays him over $8 million a year. He did this in a taped testimonial for something called the Forerunner Christian Church.
Then, writer-director James Gunn found himself hoping Marvel won’t fire him from its next big superhero franchise Guardians Of The Galaxy because obscure bloggers dredged up a two-year old Tumblr blog post Gunn wrote in jest. In it, he described in detail which superheroes he would most like to bed, mixing in homophobic references for good measure. Finally, British actor Jason Flemyng, most often seen in films directed by Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn, got into a playful conversation with some website guys with a camera-phone. As he cagily parried a question on whether Vaughn might direct the next Star Wars and hire him as an actor, Flemyng might have validated all the speculation. Or did he?
Celebrities have been strung up forever for saying dumb things in interviews while out promoting projects, but I find myself shaking my head when they fashion the noose themselves in web postings delivered when they have nothing to gain. Maybe it’s because I push words around for a living and maybe it’s because I’m lazy, but if I wasn’t being paid to write, I wouldn’t scribble a grocery list. For the life of me, I just don’t get the obsession with Twitter, Facebook and these other viral forms that celebs use to validate and sometimes snare themselves. I was taught long ago that it is fine to write stuff while your emotions are high and when you are riled up, but you should never publish until you’ve stepped away and taken the opportunity to consider all the angles, the potential for shrapnel, and consider the people your words might offend or alienate. I did find it interesting to observe this week’s blowback from celebs who didn’t do that.
Ellen Page has made a deal to join Woody Allen’s next film. Deadline told you Monday about Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg starring, and Penelope Cruz had been announced in early April. The pic shoots in Rome.
Page has been busy. She plays a psychopath superhero sidekick alongside Rainn Wilson in the James Gunn-directed Super, a film that is being rolled out by IFC after it acquired the film at Toronto last fall. Page is also attached to Freeheld, a Ron Nyswaner-scripted feature adaptation of the Oscar-winning documentary.
UPDATE: Toldja! IFC (below) has confirmed its Super buy.
EXCLUSIVE FROM TORONTO: In the first major deal since 2010 Toronto began, IFC has captured U.S. rights to Super, the raucous James Gunn-directed film which had several buyers circling since its premiere at Friday’s Midnight Madness low-budget genre program. I’m told it was a seven-figure commitment and happened after an all-night bargaining session. IFC doesn’t usually pay that much for its deals, but there was competition. I heard that Magnolia was among three other bidders vying for the deal brokered by UTA’s Rich Klubeck and WME’s Graham Taylor. The pic rocked the audience in its premiere at the Ryerson Theater. Rainn Wilson plays a wannabe superhero (his power comes from the business end of a plumber’s wrench), Ellen Page as his psycho sidekick, and Kevin Bacon in a hilarious turn as the drug dealer who charms away the superhero’s troubled gal (Liv Tyler).
New York, NY (September 12, 2010) – IFC Films, the leading American distributor of independent and foreign films, announced today that the company has acquired U.S. rights to James Gunn’s shockingly hilarious SUPER after an all-night auction that concluded this morning. IFC Films will release SUPER under its new IFC Midnight banner. SUPER was also written by Gunn, and was produced by Miranda Bailey via her LA-based production company, Ambush Entertainment and Ted Hope, via his Gotham-based production
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
Should they have called this, BATTLE: L.A., since it was actually shot in Louisiana, and that would provide plausible deniability? Regardless, the look being strived for here is obviously BLACK HAWK DOWN meets DISTRICT 9. Aaron Eckhart leads an army team to find survivors in a besieged Los Angeles that has been bombarded by alien artillery fire. He has three hours to get in and out before the U.S. Military’s bombs drop (implied, but not said in the clip, is that these bombs will be nuclear).