Numerous reviews of Miss Potter have been published during the past few days. Instead of posting them all here and filling up space, here are the best parts from several of them:
Potter finds an obstacle in her class-conscious mother (Barbara Flynn) and support from her newbie publisher Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor, bringing instant life and charisma to the screen in all of his scenes). (Window to the Movies)
Still, the movie is redeemed by excellent performances. McGregor, in particular, lights up the film, and in her scenes with him, when she is not forced to interact with watercolor rabbits, Zellweger seems to wake up from a long, cranky nap. His Norman is a pure, puppyish innocent with a bounding enthusiasm for Potter's work. "I put your drawings aside with great reluctance!" he tells her on the first day he comes to her house to talk business. (Los Angeles Times)
Zellweger does a fine job of fleshing out the plucky character despite the occasional simper. But it is the superlative supporting British cast, particularly McGregor and Watson, who really make the film. [...] Miss Potter is a well-told and sweetly enchanting tale with gorgeous scenery of some of the most beautiful spots in Britain. It is a family film that, told in a sprightly 92 minutes, will keep parents' attention and won't annoy them with frenzied action scenes or boorish humor. (USA Today)
"Miss Potter" makes it easy to believe that the man in charge of publishing Beatrix's books, Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor), would be taken not just with her work but with her winningly no-nonsense personality. McGregor plays Warne with shy affability -- he's particularly wonderful in the scene in which he first meets Beatrix and can't hide how delighted he is by her drawings. [...] Zellweger's performance here is both winsome and disciplined. She avoids making Beatrix unbearably adorable (an accomplishment considering that this is, after all, a woman who considers bunny rabbits and hedgehogs her truest friends), and she doesn't make the mistake of simply playing traits, like "cleverness" and "mild eccentricity." She simply lets the character emerge through and between the movie's nicely wrought dialogue. (The script is by Richard Maltby Jr.) And her scenes with McGregor have a tender, casual quality that makes them effortlessly believable. (Salon.com)
Contributions from cast and technicians alike is uniformly excellent — Zellweger is a sheer pleasure, McGregor an intoxicating delight and Emily Watson, as Millie Warne, the brothers’ unmarried sister and eventual confidante to Beatrix, is positively magical. Other standout contributions include Andrew Dunn’s photography and Nigel Westlake’s score (with supplementary contribution from Rachel Portman). (Box Office.com)
"Potter" is also a romantic tale of distance, as Potter and Warne have to maneuver slowly to keep their love from being stamped out by society and the Potter family's social requirements. Noonan's blueprint of attraction is achieved though bright, beaming performances from Zellweger and McGregor, who play their forbidden romance with a jubilant moonwalk that embraces the most candied, rewarding moments of screen love. Noonan takes their relationship to idealized heights, staging stolen kisses and letter-bound longing in the style of classic Hollywood. If you've got any speck of black on your heart, this material is sure to drive you mad. (Oh My News)
Special Screening and Q&A of Miss Potter on Friday
The Fri 5 January 6.30pm show at Curzon Mayfair is followed by a Q&A with the crew members from Miss Potter: Andrew Dunn, cinematographer (Mrs Henderson Presents, History Boys, Stage Beauty, Gosford Park), Martin Childs, production designer (Lady In The Water, Calendar Girls, Shakespeare In Love and art director of Much Ado About Nothing), Anthony Powell, costume designer (101&102 Dalmatians, The Avengers, Papillion, Death On The Nile).
You can book tickets online, click on the link below and use the scroll arrows to go down a bit in the Miss Potter section of the screen.
'My brother does a proper job. I wear make-up for a living'
Ewan McGregor has been involved in no fewer than six films this year. But that doesn't stop his fellow countrymen telling him: 'You're not as good as Alec Guinness.' Interview by Nigel Farndale
Being Ewan McGregor, that must be a laugh. I don't just mean the being paid millions to act out male fantasies – firing a 50-cal machine gun in a war zone one day, sharing a bed with Nicole Kidman the next – because that applies to other Hollywood actors, too. I mean the being him particularly: having his temperament, his restlessness bordering on immaturity.
Take this comment, made over lunch in London as he vigorously saws his way through a rib-eye steak. 'I was climbing a tree the other day and …' Hang on a minute. Climbing a tree? Why was he climbing a tree? 'Because it looked like a good tree to climb.' He chews, swallows and starts cutting again. 'Anyway, I was about three-quarters of the way up and I bottled. When I was younger I would have kept going until I could stick my head out of the top branches, even if it was swaying around. I was fearless, then.'
And at the age of 35 he's lost his nerve? 'Well I did get frightened up there. Maybe it's to do with being a father, having responsibilities.'
But, hang on again, he's about to set off on another of his motorbike rides with his friend Charlie Boorman, this time taking 'the Long Way Down' to Cape Town, a distance of 14,000 miles through countries where they have coups every 10 minutes and like nothing better than a good kidnapping before breakfast. 'Yeah, yeah, but I'm not losing sleep about it. In fact I'm blindly optimistic about the whole thing. We'll try and be careful about the route.'
Blind optimism has served McGregor well. He went the Long Way Round two years ago, 18,000 miles that time, over three months, largely because he felt he needed to get out of his comfort zone. What may have started as a premature mid-life crisis turned out to be a sound career move. They took a cameraman with them. The subsequent documentary and book were both huge hits. He was also able to raise funds for Unicef – he is a UN goodwill ambassador – something he intends to do again this time, stopping off to visit African orphanages as he takes the Long Way Down.
Part of the appeal of Long Way Round was in seeing a Hollywood star removed from the trappings of fame, bonding with his mate, enjoying his anonymity (he grew a bushy Viking beard). McGregor came across as being unaffected, open and likeable. Unusually for an actor, he is unpretentious and has little interest in talking about acting, though he will, out of politeness. His watch has a big face. Circling his ring finger there is a big band of gold. Today he is in ripped jeans and a white T-shirt, which shows the big red-and-blue tattoo on his right bicep. There is a bigness to his personality, too. He has a room-filling laugh.
I wonder if, on Long Way Round, he ever caught himself playing Ewan McGregor? 'No, but I did learn some things about myself. There were times when I felt isolated in those vast landscapes. I become much more dark and moody than I thought I was capable of being. We were very undisciplined about eating. We would get so into our riding that we wouldn't stop for lunch and sometimes by five I was so empty I started getting depressed. We won't repeat that mistake on the Long Way Down.'
McGregor is – how can one put this? – promiscuous as an actor. This year alone he has been involved in six films, and he often seems to have two out at a time, as well as the odd musical on stage. The last time we met he had a darkly existentialist art-house film out, Young Adam, as well as a fluffy 1950s-style Doris Day romp called Down With Love. This time the contrast is just as great with Scenes of a Sexual Nature, in which he plays a homosexual man in a long-term relationship, and Miss Potter, a partly animated family film about the life of Beatrix Potter (played by Renée Zellweger). In that, he plays Norman, the doomed love interest.
I suppose when you consider that McGregor is best known for playing a junkie in Trainspotting and a Jedi knight in the Star Wars prequels, this odd mix of roles is not so surprising. But what is behind this scattergun approach, and the uneven quality of his work? Is it boredom? 'It just sort of happens because I'm quite easily pleased with scripts, I think. I'm impulsive. I don't plan.'
He and his wife, Ève Mavrakis, a French production designer, have two daughters, Clara, 10, and Esther, five, and have just adopted a third, a four-year-old girl from Mongolia. (He came across her in an orphanage while on the Long Way Round and managed to sort out the bureaucracy of adoption with much less fuss than Madonna.) He often reads the Beatrix Potter books to his youngest children. 'Some of the stories are quite bizarre,' he says. 'My kids love them. We've got the box set. That was part of the appeal for me of doing the film.'
There is a sentimental side to him, then. But also a laddish side. McGregor has appeared naked in several of his films, never passing up an opportunity to show off his appendage. I tell him I was quite surprised he didn't find an excuse to get it out in Miss Potter. He grins broadly. 'I did try to. They said, "It's nice Ewan, but we don't think it quite works with this film." They tried animating it: put Peter Rabbit's face on it and it spoke to Beatrix, but they didn't think it was tasteful enough in the end.'
So one day he was playing a staid and virginal Victorian gentleman with a big moustache, the next a gay man on Hampstead Heath. I ask if he needed to empathise with these characters in order to play them. 'Yes, but essentially you must play the words on the page. In Scenes of a Sexual Nature I have to tell another man I love him and at first I thought it doesn't matter whether it is a man or a woman, but actually it does – because the themes they are discussing are absolutely informed by the fact that they are gay men.
'Discussing infidelity is different for these two gay men because in their relationship it is allowed. However, I didn't want to try and play gay, as in camp, because there are as many different types of gay men as there are heterosexual.'
He has played a gay man before, in Velvet Goldmine. 'That was more in your face because I had to French-kiss Jonnie Rhys Meyers. It was no coincidence that the entire electrical department walked off the set next day. I think they found it too uncomfortable. I was harangued on set for wearing my platforms and my spray-on jeans and make-up. Technicians were shouting: "Oy! Facking pretty boy." It was a weird insight. I very much enjoy the company of gay men.
'I have a fun time with them but because of the theatrical circles I move in I don't often see the other side of the story, which is the bigotry and the homophobic stuff. I was subject to homophobic anger and that in turn made me feel angry. I said: F--- this! This is my work. I don't come and harangue you when you are doing your work. I don't slag you off for being sparks plugging in lights.'
Can he look after himself in a fight? 'Probably, if I was angry enough my inner Scotsman would come out. But I've never had a proper fight with anyone apart from silly scraps at school.'
School was in Perthshire, the private Morrison's Academy. He left there to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and immediately afterwards, in 1993, won his first starring role, in Dennis Potter's Lipstick on Your Collar. He returns to Perthshire regularly to see his parents, who are teachers, and his older brother, who is a fighter pilot. He has always been conscious that what his brother does for a living is manlier than what he does. 'I can't think of two more diverse professions than what my brother and I do. He does a proper job. He flies at 500 miles an hour 200 feet above the ground. F---ing incredible. Whereas I wear make-up for a living.'
McGregor has sometimes fantasised about being a soldier. He revelled in training with the US Rangers for the film Black Hawk Down, a dramatic reconstruction of the American assault on Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. 'One of the reasons I was desperate to be in that film was that I wanted to try and work out how I would cope. It made me question how brave I might be in the same circumstances. My brother has flown in the Gulf many times and it fascinates me. Men and war and how they cope. I read books about it. I can almost imagine myself dealing with it once you're in the situation but not before, when it is building up; I think I would go to pieces then.'
That said, there was an accident on a set once when a dolly fell on a grip and split his head open. 'I became absolutely calm saying: "Right, let's do this, he'll go to hospital and be stitched up and everything will be fine." I quite surprised myself by that.'
He also finds he is like that when anything happens to his children. 'It's horrible when your kids hurt themselves but if one of mine falls, or something, I do stay calm. My youngest one has a nice boxer's scar here...' he points to his face. 'And one down here.' He points to his ear. She's a high-spirited child who seems to cut herself a lot falling over.'
The family live in St John's Wood, where McGregor likes to do the school run. He is protective about his children, refusing to allow them to be filmed or photographed, and threatening legal action against the paparazzi who try. He has become more relaxed about being papped himself, though, he says. 'When I was dressed up as a tomato in Trafalgar Square for the Film 4 campaign there were paparazzi everywhere – and who can blame them? I mean, I was dressed as a tomato in Trafalgar Square – but I thought I can either let this ruin my day or I can have a laugh.'
He learnt that attitude from Woody Allen, whose next film he is in. 'In New York no one has the power to stop these people so you just have to get on with it. I watch Woody and he just doesn't give a shit, he wanders around.'
When I ask whether there are any chinks in his armour of positivism, other than that he gets depressed when he doesn't eat, he says, 'Yeah, I can't stand cynicism. And I do resent it when people come up just to be rude about my work. You know, why do they feel the need to tell me: "That film was shit." You can think it but don't come up and tell me. It happens quite a lot in Scotland for some reason. "You're not as big as you think you are, McGregor." I think it's because they have this attitude that: "He is one of us and we have to keep his feet on the ground."
'I was with my mum and my daughter the other day and I watched this guy get up and walk over and say: "I've got to tell you this. Got to say it. You're not nearly as good as Alec Guinness." I went, "Thanks." Then he walked away and I was left thinking: "Oh great, now I feel pissed off and my time with my daughter has been ruined".'
He is on location in New York at the moment, filming a thriller called The Tourist. His family usually join him on location but this time it would have meant his children coming out of school, so he has gone on his own. 'Being away on location is part of being an actor. I do miss my wife and children though.'
He lights up a cigarette. 'But there are two sides to it because it is easier for the work when there are no family distractions. You have to be selfish because of the unsociable hours and the intensity of the work. In that respect it is better to come home to an empty apartment and just learn your lines for the next day and go to bed. But the other side is your heart. Your kids aren't there and your wife isn't there. This time we have sorted out some video conferencing, having dinner together with your laptops either side of the Atlantic. Nice idea. The sexual possibilities are endless.'
When I tell him to be careful it isn't recorded somewhere, he looks worried. 'Is it?' Well it has to go somewhere. 'I'll bear that in mind.' He shakes his head and grins. 'Thanks.'
Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and Squirrel Nutkin are familiar to most people, but few know about the life of the surprisingly feisty Victorian lady who created them. That should change quickly thanks to the enchanting Miss Potter, starring Renée Zellweger as Beatrix. The film follows the children’s author from young adulthood to middle age—surviving her tortured relationship with her overly critical mother, defying convention by publishing her books, becoming a famous woman of independent means, suffering the tragic death of her publisher/fiancé and enrolling as prime supporter of Britain’s National Trust, eventually donating 4,000 acres of land and 14 farms to be conserved for enjoyment of future generations who are still delighting in her books.
Miss Potter is Australian director Chris Noonan’s second feature—made 10 years after his phenomenally successful directorial debut with Babe. “I felt tremendous pressure following Babe,” explains Noonan. “Its success wasn’t a shock because I believed in the film completely, but everyone was asking, ‘So what’re you going to do now?’ Subtext: prove yourself.
“The big stir made many people interested in hiring me. I didn’t want to jump aboard the first train entering the station, nor do rehashes of rehashes. I wanted to do original work—work that made a difference. Those projects are few and far between. So, I made TV commercials to put bread on the table. And fiddled with my own ideas—some are still in development. And I came across two scripts I liked and thought I could do something with. But, in both cases, the producers didn’t like my take on the scripts. They had other ideas...”
MERIN: Did they flop?
NOONAN: Yeah, one got made and flopped. Miss Potter was the first project that came along that really moved me. The script moved me to tears. That was the alert that made me think carefully about this one.
[Beatrix Potter’s] story is so good, and she’s such a fascinating person—nothing like what you’d expect. I suppose people think of her as a Victorian fuddy-duddy and not of interest to modern people. But everything I found out about her while reading the script won me over, and I thought this story should be part of everyone’s upbringing. People should know about it.
Everyone knows Beatrix as a writer, but they don’t know what a remarkable person she was. I knew nothing about her before I read the script. Then, I had to make this film.
In this milieu of genre films—crime, sci-fi, horror, slick comedies and others that involve high tech flourishes and violence—was it tough to get this rather traditional period/biopic/love story produced?
It was a long process. When I signed on, it was only partially funded. My first task was to figure out how much we needed to make the film. Then there was a period of raising money from various sources. It came together slowly. While we were shooting, Weinstein Company signed on, and we got funds that allowed us to readdress the film’s ending to make it work.
This is a strangely, unconventionally structured film—defying basic rules. When telling a romantic story, you don’t kill the romantic lead at the end of the second act of a three-act structure. That’s hard to recover from, but that’s what happened with Beatrix. It took a lot of figuring to make it work—which we hadn’t done when began shooting.
Initially, we thought Beatrix would mourn her fiancé’s death [played by Ewan McGregor], then we’d start another romance with the man who eventually became her husband. But in preliminary editing, we realized audiences would fall so in love with Ewan...
Isn’t he ever? His performance is pure—nothing showy, and, for that reason, he wins you even more.
I wanted understatement from the actors. I’m allergic to overstatement of emotion in films. For me, when actors demand responses from me, indicating what my responses should be, I withdraw. But if it’s left to me to respond, and I’m responding to situations that are true and believable arcs in the story, I’ll truly respond as though I’m watching someone’s real life. I hate corn, and I hate overstatement of emotion.
How do you get actors to underplay?
It starts with casting. You cast people who have that ability. And with Miss Potter, I ran a two-week workshop, a boot camp, for the entire cast—servants and all—where we discussed our approach to the film. A historian talked about the world at that time, and we learned about wars were being fought and about etiquette of communication between the classes, which was very important in Britain... It’s a theatrical approach, really, but it works well for films. We’re all professional illusionists building a world for audiences to believe in: If everyone on screen inhabits the same world, audiences believe it’s real.
Miss Potter will be Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4
Next week, Monday (December 25th) to Friday, BBC Radio 4 is doing Miss Potter as their Book of the Week, from 9.45am-10.00am, repeated 00.30-00.45am. It will also be available online on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week website for one week.
Last week the royal equestrian sleb Zara Phillips took flak from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade for promoting "unethical" Land Rover.
Now Ewan McGregor finds himself pursued down the street by protester types, this lot a (fragrant) enviro bunch.
The actor accepted Land Rover's dollar to narrate a recent sales film marketing the steel box as the means to achieve your dreams.
His endorsement is strange because he has worked with Greenpeace and is a "Goodwill Ambassador" for Unicef children's charity.
The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s wrote to McGregor two weeks ago, asking if he might donate his fee to charity. Says spokeslady Sian Berry: "Supporting 4x4s doesn't fit with child welfare. Aside from the accidents outside school gates, they hasten global warming, which will increase droughts, floods and child suffering." McGregor hasn't replied.
Motorbike fanatic EWAN McGREGOR is whizzing around London on a vintage racing bike after buying it from a museum in the Isle of Man, while shooting new movie MISS POTTER.
The actor couldn't resist a visit to the British island's famous TT rally museum while he was filming, and, when he discovered the owner was selling off his classic bikes, McGregor felt he had to add to his collection.
He explains, "The Isle of Man is a very famous location for motorcycle racing. There's been an Isle of Man TT race, on a mountain circuit, for years; it's about 38 miles long. They've raced there since 1902.
"It (the race) goes through several villages and through this mountain section. It's an extraordinarily dangerous race. I love it.
"There's a museum at the very top of the circuit and I went to visit it, and the guy who ran it was selling all the bikes. I went, 'Oh no!' I phoned my wife and said, 'I've gone to this museum and you know he's selling all the bikes.' She went, 'Oh no!' "I bought a 1929 Rex Acme TT racing bike, 350 single. It's a beautiful piece of machinery; beautiful. I've got it running and I've been riding around London." Meanwhile, McGregor has confirmed he's planning another biking documentary series with pal CHARLIE BOORMAN following the success of their show LONG WAY ROUND, which took the intrepid friends through Europe, the former Soviet Union, Alaska and America.
He adds, "Our Long Way Round trip was so successful and enjoyable that next year we're gonna go from the very north of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa and to visit UNICEF charity projects along the way. It'll be great."
It is the perfect pick me up after a heavy night's drinking at the Oxford Bar.
Now the restorative powers of Irn-Bru have inspired Ian Rankin to help create what must be the world's most expensive fizzy drinks bottle.
The airtight silver flask - which comes complete with a gold goblet - has been made by craftsman John Creed from the best-selling crime writer's idea.
The writer, who lives in Merchiston, is one of the celebrities to have designed silverware vessels for a new exhibition in Edinburgh. Others include Sir Sean Connery, Billy Connolly, Ewan McGregor, Sharleen Spiteri and Nicola Benedetti.
The Irn-Bru set, part of a collection worth around £1 million, has been valued at £50,000.
The Fife-born writer - who, like his fictional creation Inspector Rebus, enjoys a pint or two in the Oxford Bar - was delighted when he tested it out at the Goldsmith's Hall in Broughton Street.
"I chose Irn-Bru because it reminds me of fish suppers with my family when I was a child.
"Over the years I've also found it an excellent restorative on many a morning after the night before, and I still drink it a couple of times every week. It's definitely the best hangover cure around," he said.
"I never thought, however, that one day it would be possible to drink it out of a silver tumbler, lined with gold. I did get the opportunity on a visit to Goldsmith's Hall when it was completed, which was very nice indeed. The whole concept is a great idea as it mixes together a lot of great things about Scotland and shows how the country is rich in all kinds of different talents."
The Irn-Bru set also includes a steel tray inspired by the girders of the Forth Bridge, in celebration of Scotland's industrial past.
It will go on show alongside a whisky set, teapot, absinthe goblet and several other designs in the exhibition, which will go on show in Edinburgh after a world tour.
The Edinburgh-based Incorporation of Goldsmiths, headed by city jeweller Michael Laing, has masterminded the Silver of the Stars exhibition, which will be open to the public for the first time at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, on January 31.
The National Museum of Scotland, on Chambers Street, will host the exhibition for several months from January 2008, after it has visited New York, St Petersburg, Beijing and Kyoto. Other celebrity pieces include a teapot inspired by a Harley Davidson three-wheeler for Billy Connolly and a silver and gold quaich for Sir Sean Connery.
Coffee pot designed by Marion Kane for Ewan McGregor
An absinthe goblet, described as "overflowing with decadence", has been created for fashion designer Alexander McQueen, while a mug and teapot with motorbike handles has been made in silver for Ewan McGregor.
Other pieces include a fringed and jewelled teapot for Sharleen Spiteri, a whisky set for Robbie Coltrane, a hot chocolate service for Nicola Benedetti, a claret set for theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh and a teapot for Lulu.
Mr Laing said: "The idea for Silver of the Stars was to find a way of uniting creative talent from many different disciplines.
"Scotland is in the unique position of fostering a community of world-class silversmiths and we have also produced some of the biggest names in entertainment."
Oscar File: Ewan McGregor And His Mustache Steal Show In 'Miss Potter'
December 14, 2006 by Josh Horowitz
"Miss Potter" is not Ewan McGregor's film, and that's just fine with him. Check out the poster, and all you'll see is
Renée Zellweger's smiling face, but it is McGregor, the sometime Jedi/crooner, who nearly steals the show as her shy
and awkward love interest.
The movie, which opens in limited release December 29 (just in time for Oscar consideration), fits into the "Finding Neverland" mold.
Zellweger plays famed author Beatrix Potter, the woman who brought "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" to life. McGregor took some
time to talk to MTV about his latest flick, whether he worries about schmaltz and his plans to get naked again.
MTV: That's some facial hair you sport in this. Was the mustache real or not?
Ewan McGregor: Real. [Director Chris Noonan] sent me a photograph of the real Norman Warne, and he had the most
extraordinarily long mustache you've ever seen. Years and years must have gone into this mustache. I had time, so I grew
mine for two or three months.
MTV: Do you worry about the schmaltz factor with a film like this?
McGregor: I didn't read it as schmaltzy. If I had, I wouldn't have wanted to do it. I only saw it as a very true
and beautiful piece about [Potter] and her life.
MTV: "Moulin Rouge!" was another film of yours that might have fallen into schmaltz territory if not for a filmmaker
like Baz Luhrmann.
McGregor: I never had anything but absolute trust in him. When I first met Baz years before, he described what
he wanted it to be and he described what was on the screen at the end of the day. It was absolutely that. And I never wavered.
It went over budget and over schedule and over everything, but through it all, I was absolutely sold on it. I've never
worried about schmaltz. You can lose trust in a director for other reasons. Sometimes with new directors you feel like
you're getting direction for the sake of them directing you as opposed to putting you on the right track. And that can
be tricky because then you have to navigate that line of pretending you're playing their note and doing what you believe
to be right at the same time.
MTV: Tell me about the film you've been shooting with Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams in New York, "The Tourist."
McGregor: We've got a very classy team. I've loved working with Hugh, because I think he's just a gorgeous man.
Most of all I've been working with Michelle, and she's an absolute delight. She's an exceptional young actress — she's
got a quality about her that's quite unique.
MTV: This one has you navigating through the sex clubs of New York. Does this mean the return of Ewan McGregor
McGregor: Yes. [He laughs.] I don't think there's any willy stuff, but there's certainly bum stuff in it.
It's funny over here. You're quite safe from penis shots in America because American people don't have penises, so you
can't see them in film. Whereas in Britain you can see your penis in film. [He laughs.] So since it's an American
picture, it's just a bum you see.
MTV: When do you shoot the sequel to your motorcycle travel show, "Long Way Round"?
McGregor: Next year. "The Long Way Down" — it's from the north of Scotland to Capetown [South Africa]. We'll
leave sometime in the summer.
MTV: How did you come up with the title? Does it have anything to do with the "ER" episode you were in that had
almost the exact same name?
McGregor: I was in Australia shooting the third "Star Wars" film. Our producers came out, and we shot a trailer
to take around to TV companies. We were having dinner, and the boys were getting quite drunk and coming up with titles.
They were coming up with the most ludicrous ones, like "Wakey Wakey Hands Off Snakey, Charley It's Time to Ride." I kept
coming back to "Long Way Round," and we settled on it. After the trip I remembered that the episode of "ER" I did was "The
Long Way Around." So that's where it must have come from, somewhere in my subconscious.
MTV: You recently finished filming a new Woody Allen movie, "Cassandra's Dream," opposite Colin Farrell. How was
McGregor: Fantastic. I loved working with Woody Allen. You raise your game firstly because it's him but also from
the way he shoots. It's so satisfying and so quick! He just shoots the scene. You go in and out of frame. It's wonderful.
And then you get home every day by 4:30.
MTV: Did you know that you are a seven-time nominee for an MTV Movie Award?
McGregor: [Surprised] Am I? Seven times! For what?
MTV: A lot for the "Star Wars" films, but it goes all the way back to "Trainspotting."
McGregor: God, I had no idea!
MTV: What's your attitude about awards?
McGregor: It's lovely if you get one. [He laughs.] I would never want to be someone who's acting to try
to get one, and I know a few of those actors. I won't mention names. It's nice to get them, but I can't bring myself to
get involved in trying to get one.
MTV: I'm sorry I never got to see you perform in London in "Guys and Dolls." Our question is ...
McGregor: Was I good? Yes. Very. [He laughs.]
MTV: Well, besides that, are you interested in doing another musical on film, perhaps even "Guys and Dolls"?
McGregor: "Guys and Dolls" was a great movie with Sinatra and Brando. I don't think we should try to touch that.
I have no plans to make [a musical], but I love the whole process of making a movie with music. There's a whole other element
to it that makes it refreshing. It's wonderful.
Renée Zelleweger nominated for a Golden Globe for Miss Potter
December 14, 2006
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominations for “The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards” and Renée was nominated as Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. The other nominees in that category are Annette Bening (Running With Scissors), Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine), Beyoncé Knowles (Dreamgirls) and Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada).
“The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards” will take place Monday, January 15, 2007, at The Beverly Hilton with a live telecast airing on NBC at 8 p.m. (EST).
Bid for a signed Obi-Wan Kenobi Action Figure Donated by Ewan
Fans of the epic Star Wars Saga will be excited by the opportunity to bid for this signed Obi-Wan Kenobi action figure, generously donated to us by Ewan McGregor. All proceeds from this sale will be donated to the National Library for the Blind.
This 2ft tall action figure comes in its original, unopened packaging and will be sold with a signed postcard of Ewan McGregor. This will make a wonderful gift for any Star Wars enthusiast (or Ewan fan!) this Christmas.
The National Library for the Blind (NLB) is a registered charity. Did you know that less than 5% of books ever make it into a format that blind people can read? This includes Braille, large print and audio. With your help, we can try and change this. To read more about NLB please go to our website at www.nlb-online.org.
Whether he's playing a drug addict, a hopeless romantic, or even a Jedi Knight, everyone loves Ewan McGregor. Now the Scot is back starring as Beatrix Potter's love interest, Norman Warne, in Miss Potter.
You have worked with Renee Zellwegger in the past. How was it being reunited with her again?
Me and Renee had such a fantastic time working on the film 'Down with Love.' It was a very specific kind of 1960s sex film comedy and I think I can speak for both of us, we love the film.
Although making it was very hard work. Sometimes if the timing wasn't exactly right on the dialogue then the scenes would fall flat on their face.
We would look at each other and think: ‘God, I just wish we could be doing something straight forward.'
So was this more straight forward?
Yeah, It's such a straight forward but beautiful story. To be sent this script from Renee was hugely flattering and absolutely what we were talking about.
It was wonderful to work with Renee, she's a beautiful and brilliant actress.
She has a beautiful sense of play when we work together, which is not always the case with other people I meet.
Obviously the characters in this film are based on real people, how much did you find out about the people you were playing?
I find the whole research into a character interesting.
And for each different character it dictates how much you have to do, or how much you feel is required.
There were some great photographs of Norman, Chris (the director) emailed me early. I feel there is a lot you can sense from photographs.
We went to the Warne Publishing house which still exists. I met two women who work there. They knew the Warne brothers inside out so they were a great source of information about Norman and the other brothers.
But I think his photographs said the most to me about him. Perhaps it is because I am a lazy reader.
Were you pleased to be singing again in this film?
Yeah, I have it written into my contract now, along with being naked. In my next film, I might do both at the same time!
Beatrix Potter would spend holidays in Perthshire which is close to your childhood home in Crieff. How did you feel about the film showing the Lake District as the location for the creation of her characters rather than Scotland?
What! I didn't know that... I'm taking my name off the end of the film!
Actually during shooting, I realised that there was a Perthshire connection but not before I started the film. And there is some filming around Glagow but it is posing as the Lake District so I suppose that makes up for it.
Clearly Beatrix Potter's work has touched children all over the world, have you read them to your children?
I read Beatrix Potter books to my children. Especially after we made this film because I was given the deluxe box set.
What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I remember very clearly being read Peter Pan when I was young. I even remember what the book looked like. It had a grey cover with beautiful pictures.
Harry Nilsson did an album called The Point! which in terms of a story would be the strongest childhood story that I have in my head.
My kids listen to it on a regular basis (because I make them).
And you're spending your pay from the movie on yet another motorcycle. Will you even grow out of them? How many of them do you have now?
No, I'm afraid I won't.
At the very top of the Isle of Man, there is a museum about the history of the Isle of Man TT, which is run by a guy called Paul Murray.
I went to visit it but it was shut.
So I phoned them up and found out he was closing down the museum and was selling all off all the bikes.
I thought that was a bad move so I went up there and I came back with a 1929 Rex Acme TT racer. My wife said ‘Oh no not again!.' I've got eleven now.
Ewan McGregor’s latest role in a film about Beatrix Potter marks a big break with his racy movie past. But he tells Brian Pendreigh that he still harbours dangerous passions
Motorbikes do something to Ewan McGregor. His eyes sparkle and his conversation revs up at the mention of his favourite machines. This is a man who travelled 19,000 miles across the world’s roughest terrain on a BMW and the experience has done nothing to diminish his passion.
“It’s a beautiful piece of kit,” he enthuses about his latest acquisition, the 11th bike in his collection. “Though my wife is going, ‘Oh no! Not another one!’”
The actor succumbed to temptation on location in the Isle of Man. “There’s a TT museum run by a guy called Paul Murray,” says McGregor. “I went to visit it, but I had to phone them because it was shut. He was closing down the museum and selling off all the bikes.
“I thought that was a bad move, so I went up there and came back with a 1929 Rex-Acme TT racer.”
Now he plans a new adventure with his best friend Charley Boorman and the cameraman Claudio von Planta.
Two years ago their trip through Europe, Asia and America was made into Long Way Round, a television series and book. Their next journey will take them from John o’Groats to Cape Town in the new year.
The trip is more than just a daring escapade with the lads. He will use it, like Long Way Round, to publicise the work of Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, for which he is an ambassador. McGregor may look boyish, but he is a father of three who takes his responsibilities seriously.
With his neatly cut hair and sober jumper, the man in front of me resembles a distant, respectable cousin of Mark Renton, the cheeky junkie who burst onto cinema screens in the 1996 hit Trainspotting.
His new film, a biopic of the Edwardian children’s author Beatrix Potter, explores very different territory from Irvine Welsh, the poet laureate of the chemical generation and the author of Trainspotting, to whom McGregor owed much of his early fame.
Miss Potter is a gentle period drama in which McGregor plays Norman Warne, the publisher with whom the heroine develops a close, though chaste, relationship, leading to a secret engagement. It was filmed in the Lake District and the Isle of Man, affording him the opportunity to indulge his motorcycle obsession.
The star of Moulin Rouge and Star Wars was approached to appear in the film by Renée Zellweger, who was an executive producer as well as its star.
The two had played opposite one another before, in the 2003 film Down with Love. A romantic comedy in the style of the successful Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies, the quick-witted exchanges were exhausting for both actors.
“It was a very specific kind of 1960s’ sex film comedy,” he explains.
“It was very hard work. Sometimes if the timing wasn’t absolutely right on the dialogue, those scenes would fall flat on their faces.”
In these moments, the two stars often looked at each other and said: “I wish we could just be doing something straightforward.” Zellweger was true to her word. She sent McGregor the script of Miss Potter a couple of years later. He was hugely flattered.
“It was absolutely what we had been talking about, a beautiful story and a simple, kind of straightforward one.”
Beatrix Potter was born into a rich London family in 1866. As a girl she wrote illustrated stories inspired by her pet animals, including a rabbit called Peter and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle the hedgehog. The resulting stories reflect a passion for the countryside acquired during her family holidays in Perthshire and the Lake District.
It was an era when a young lady’s priority was securing a well-bred and wealthy husband. Pursuing a career and earning one’s own living were not thought respectable. The film presents Potter as a relatively independent- minded woman, whose values were not entirely in keeping with those of her class or time. Still single in her thirties, she made a little money creating illustrations for greetings cards.
Then she met Warne, a younger brother in a family publishing company. He encouraged her to write and helped build up her confidence. A regular visitor to tea at the Potter family home, he one day surprised Beatrix by proposing marriage.
They secretly became engaged despite fierce opposition from Potter’s parents, who did not want her to marry someone who was “in trade”. As the film details, their disapproval was not the only obstacle to the couple’s happiness.
McGregor’s principal inspiration for the role of Warne was a collection of photographs. “I think there’s a lot you can sense from photographs,” he said.
The young publisher is a gentleman in every sense of the word. This makes him a very different sort of leading man from those McGregor has played in notorious, sexually explicit films such as Young Adam and The Pillow Book. He believes he now gets the chance to play a wider range of roles, and jokes that he no longer has to show his penis in every film.
One might also be forgiven for assuming he was attracted to the Warne role because of Potter’s strong Scottish connections. She spent family holidays in Dunkeld, Perthshire, close to McGregor’s childhood home in Crieff. It was here, not the Lake District, that her most famous creature was born.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit first appeared as an illustrated letter to a friend’s son, written from Scotland in 1893. Mr. McGregor, the grumpy gardener who plans to put Peter in the pot, is almost certainly inspired by a local man from Dunkeld.
But film-makers do not like to be burdened with too much extraneous detail. So for the sake of simplicity, the genesis of Peter Rabbit is relocated from Perthshire to the Lake District, where Potter also spent childhood holidays and much of her adult life after becoming a bestselling author. Most of the filming was done in Cumbria and the Isle of Man.
McGregor was unaware that Peter Rabbit was practically a neighbour. As to the snubbing of his native land, he adopts an expression of mock horror: “I didn’t know that... I’m taking my name off the end of the film!”
If you look closely, however, Scotland does make it to the screen — disguised as the lakes. The director, Chris Noonan, whose previous credits include the 1995 hit Babe, spent a week shooting scenes around Loch Lomond. Boturich Castle estate, Finnich Malise at the southern end of the Loch and even Ben Lomond can be seen. The Scottish footage was included to accommodate Emily Watson, who plays Warne’s sister and who was working simultaneously on The Waterhorse, which was then being made in Scotland. Zellweger and Watson filmed for a week, though McGregor was not involved.
Despite his obvious enjoyment at being involved with the project, he admits an ignorance of Potter before Zellweger’s script landed in his lap. Generations of children have been entertained by the antics of Peter, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Jeremy Fisher. But young McGregor was not one of them. He preferred The Broons. He laughs at the suggestion that the moustache he grew to play Warne makes him look like Hen, the lanky older brother in the doughty Dundonian family.
“A Broons movie would be great for sure,” he says. “My friend Douglas Henshall was always talking about doing a Broons movie!”
He admits he was never a great reader and his favourite childhood story was Harry Nilsson’s The Point, which was a record rather than a book. “My uncle Denis [Lawson, the actor] got it for me I think.”
Once he started filming Miss Potter, though, he began to notice her work everywhere.
“My parents sent down the complete works of Beatrix Potter when my daughter, Clara, was born. Then I started noticing we had eggcups and plates, stuff all over the house.”
The film has given McGregor a new respect for the author — he now has a “deluxe” set of her books and reads them to his children.
“I didn’t know anything about her and that’s why I’ve enjoyed the script so much. You discover what an extraordinary woman she was.”
Miss Potter opens nationwide on January 5
When Potter captured Perthshire
Potter’s father, Rupert, rented a country house every summer, first in Perthshire then later on in the Lake District, and many of her characters were based on the small animals she “adopted” during childhood family holidays.
At the Birnam Institute (01350 727674; www.birnaminstitute.com) the exhibition The Fascinating Acquaintance details the story of the young author’s friendship with a local naturalist, Charles McIntosh. The two shared a mutual interest in wildlife and in particular fungi.
The nearby Beatrix Potter Garden re-creates the characters and settings of her work with footpaths that lead down to houses of Mr Tod and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.
Visitors can also see the stream and pond that was home to Mr Jeremy Fisher and, of course, Peter Rabbit’s burrow.
Perth Museum and Art Gallery (01738 632488; www.pkc.gov.uk) has a collection of 25 of Potter’s watercolours of fungi as well as specimens, correspondence and memorabilia belonging to Charles McIntosh
Miss Potter score by Nigel Westlake and Rachel Portman to be released in January 2007
Republic Media will be releasing the soundtrack to Miss Potter, featuring music by Nigel Westlake and Rachel Portman, on January 8, 2007.
The life of Beatrix Potter, the most successful classic children's author of all time, is the most enchanting tale of all and the film Miss Potter is a magical love story inspired by her life. Starring Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones, Chicago and Cold Mountain) & Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and Star Wars) the film is directed by Academy Award-nominated Chris Noonan.
Set in London and the Lake District in 1902, Beatrix Potter is a woman ahead of her time, a free spirit who defies the conventions of her Victorian upbringing to create a publishing phenomenon. Going against the wishes of her parents she secretly falls in love and becomes engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne.
The soundtrack to Miss Potter is an orchestral score composed by the award winning Nigel Westlake (Babe) with additional music by Rachel Portman (Oliver Twist, Benny & Joon and Chocolat). The lush, romantic and beautiful score takes the listener on a journey through Beatrix Potter's life, the creation of her much-loved characters, her personal turmoil and the beauty of the Cumbrian countryside (where the film is predominantly set).
Katie Melua performs When You Taught Me How To Dance, the vocal adaptation of the orchestral theme tune.
1. Miss Potter
2. The Park
3. A Bunny Book to Conjure With
4. The Story of Peter Rabbit
6. Jemima Puddle Duck
7. The Rabbits' Christmas Party
8. "Mr Warne!"
9. Beatrix & Norman
10. Return to London
11. Beatrix Locks Herself Away
13. 'I'm Painting Again'
14. The Lakes
15. When You Taught Me How To Dance - performed by Katie Melua
Music Composed by: Nigel Westlake Tracks 1, 3 - 10, 12 & 13
Additional Music Composed by: Rachel Portman Tracks 2, 11 & 14
Track 15 When You Taught Me How To Dance, performed by Katie Melua. Music by Nigel Westlake and Mike Batt. Lyrics by Mike Batt and Richard. Maltby jr.
Produced and arranged by Mike Batt.
"Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker": (PG). Fourteen-year-old Alex Rider (Alex Pettyfer) is recruited by the British spy organization MI6. Ewan McGregor, Robbie Coltrane and Alicia Silverstone co-star. Opens Friday at Rave Motion Pictures Pensacola 18.
FREE tickets to a special preview screening of the Cumbrian-set Beatrix Potter story, Miss Potter, starring Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, are up for grabs at Carlisle’s Vue cinema.
The movie charts the life of the world-famous author and was filmed on location in Windermere and Keswick.
The film goes on general release in cinemas on January 5 but a special ticket-only preview is being held at the Vue Cinema on Tuesday.
Directed by Academy Award-nominated Chris Noonan, the film is a biopic that follows children’s author Beatrix Potter’s rise to being the most successful children’s author of all time with tales about characters including Jemima Puddleduck and Miss Tiggy-Winkle.
The movie cost £30m to make and is expected to boost tourism and interest in The Lakes.
Tickets will only be available online, from www.myvue.com, for the 6.30pm screening.
No tax incentives for film-makers to shoot in Britain
Penny Sukhraj, Accountancy Age, 05 Dec 2006
Hollywood star criticises UK taxman for not offering tax-breaks to film-makers who want to make movies in Britain
Hollywood heart-throb Ewan McGregor has blasted the lack of tax incentives for filmmakers to work in the UK.
The Scottish-born actor – whose latest role is Norman Warne, Beatrix Potter's publisher and secret love in Miss Potter – made the comment during an interview, adding that he relished the opportunity of filming in London and the Lake District, the Daily Express reported.
'We should be making more and more films over here. But the problem is there are no tax incentives to work here.
'It's crazy. We have such fantastic studios, technicians and some of the best actors in the world – so it's just lunacy. They don't make it attractive for actors to work here,' he said.
As star Renée Zellweger braved the chill to step out in a little black dress last night at the world premiere of her new film Miss Potter, co-star Ewan McGregor spoke of his family's love for Beatrix Potter's characters.
Joining the Bridget Jones star on the red carpet at the Odeon in London's Leicester Square, McGregor said his young children were fans of the stories.
"I think there's not many houses in the country that don't have a Beatrix Potter book or two lying around – people with kids anyway," he said.
He said the family's favourite character was Peter Rabbit.
"Peter Rabbit's great – I have got the whole Mr McGregor thing going on."
Following her role in the Bridget Jones films, Zellweger revealed she had developed a taste for British cuisine. "I understand the beans on toast breakfast. I crave it," said the star.
But the Oscar-winning actress said she didn't have any plans to move to England permanently just yet.
"I don't know if I can afford it," she joked.
"I move around so much with work that I kind of don't live anywhere. But I would not be opposed to the idea of it at all."
Set in London and the Lake District, Miss Potter is a love story inspired by the life of Beatrix Potter, the most successful classic children's author of all times.
The film follows the development of her early career and views on the world as she opens her eyes to the true nature of her relationship with her publisher Norman Warne.
Zellweger had nothing but praise for the Lake District, where part of the film was shot, and said she hoped to go back there some day. "Oh, I hope so, isn't it gorgeous up there?" she said.
"It's absolutely stunning, I would love to go back." McGregor, who plays publisher Norman Warne, said he signed up to do the film for the chance to work with Zellweger again.
"We did a film together called Down With Love and I had a great time working on that so it was nice to work with her again" said McGregor.
London's Leicester Square harks back to the era of Britain's Queen Victoria for world premiere of "Miss Potter".
Reuters showbiz reporter Mirja Spernal braved the cold weather for the screening of the world premiere of `Miss Potter' the story and life of Beatrix Potter. Potter - one of the most successful classic children's author of all time - wrote her books during the era of Britain's Queen Victoria at the beginning of the 20th century.
The movie follows the development of her early career and views on the world as she opens her eyes to the true nature of her relationship with her publisher Norman Warne. Joining her, were the stars of the film, Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.
Click on the link below for a video interview with Renée and Ewan.
Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger walked the red carpet earlier today at London’s premiere of Miss Potter in Odeon Leicester Square. IMDB poster DomBiLijah_Live_On reports from the premiere: “Met Ewan, who screamed back at us after me and a few other girls were screaming for him, he grinned and did this fangirly scream back.”
Miss Potter tells the story of of Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children’s book, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”, and her struggle for love, happiness and success. US release dates: Dec. 29 (limited), Jan. 12. UK release date: Jan. 5.
Here are some pictures from the premiere, click on them for full versions.
Back Stage, in conjunction with The Hollywood Reporter, is pleased to continue its "An Evening with..." series with a special New York screening of Miss Potter, the upcoming drama from director Chris Noonan featuring Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, and Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger.
A question-and-answer session with Zellweger and Watson will follow the screening.
Zellweger stars as Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The story follows the writer as she shoots to fame, leaves his fiance, Norman Warne, played by McGregor, and struggles to find happiness and success. Watson plays Warne's sister, Millie.
The film will combine biographic stories from Potter's life with animated sequences from her short stories.
The screening will be held:
Thursday, Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m.
AMC Loews 14 Cinema
312 W. 34th St.
No RSVP is required. Seating is first-come, first-serve.
For quarter of a century, campaigners have struggled to secure funding for the fight against Aids and HIV. Stars rally to the cause now, but it remains a tough battle.
As an ambassador for Unicef, Ewan McGregor has made a World Aids Day documentary (to be shown on Sky Three at 8pm tonight) in which he visited Malawi to report on children as the "missing face of Aids". He says: "I met children in Malawi who have lost one or both parents to Aids and have been left to grow up alone. In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, don't buy your friends and family the same old soap or socks. Why not buy one of Unicef's gifts instead? Last year I bought my parents a ton of porridge for a village. For about £14, your could give a child orphaned by Aids the basic health care, nutrition, school uniform and supplies it needs, as well as psychosocial support during times of distress."
If you would like to read the entire article, please click on the link below.
Renée and Mr McGregor to star at Cumbria’s Potter premiere?
Published on 01/12/2006
By Pam McClounie
The Miss Potter film starring Renée Zellweger will get its own premiere in Cumbria later this month.
Invited guests will watch the film, which was partly shot in the county, at the Royalty cinema in Bowness-on-Windermere on Sunday December 17.
It is not yet known if any of the cast will attend the local premiere.
Zellweger, who plays Beatrix Potter, and her co-stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson will walk down the famous red carpet in London’s Leicester Square on Sunday for its UK premiere.
The film goes on general release in cinemas on January 5 but a special ticket-only preview is being held at the Vue Cinema in Carlisle on Tuesday December 12.
Directed by Academy Award-nominated Chris Noonan, the film is a biopic that follows children’s author Beatrix Potter’s rise to being the most successful children’s author of all time with tales about characters including Jemima Puddleduck and Miss Tiggy-Winkle.
It is set in London and the Lake District in 1902, where Beatrix Potter is a woman ahead of her time, a free spirit who defies the conventions of her Victorian upbringing to create a publishing phenomenon.
Going against the wishes of her parents, she secretly falls in love and becomes engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor).
Film crews came to the Lake District in March and April to film Miss Potter.
Some of the filming took place in the Windermere and Keswick areas including scenes on Derwentwater, Lamplugh, Loweswater, the Rum Story in Whitehaven and a closed set during which the film makers hired Keswick School for a day.
Zellweger stayed with other cast members at the luxurious Holbeck Ghyll Hotel overlooking Windermere and at the Washington Central Hotel in Workington. She also unveiled a statue at The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness.
They also filmed in London and on the Isle of Man.
Alan Sewell, Cumbria’s film liaison officer, worked with the film-makers to ensure they came to this county for the making of a picture about one of its best-known and best-loved characters.
Mr Sewell thinks the £30m movie can only be good news for Cumbria. “Having a film made here is great from the economic investment point of view,” he said.
Hotels are hoping to cash in on the new film.
Tourism chiefs hope Miss Potter will inspire fans of the author to visit Cumbria.
The Regent Hotel, Lake House Hotel and Lakes Lodge in Ambleside have already launched special holiday packages to entice people to visit the shores of Windermere ahead of the film’s release.
They include optional trips to any of nine lakes, a visit to the World of Beatrix Potter attraction at Windermere and freshly-produced local meals.
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, stars of Long Way Round have put down their motorbikes for a week or two and embarked on a different kind of journey from their last, this time to raise awareness and funds for children affected by AIDS.
The well-known pair have fronted an exclusive documentary called 'The Missing Face' that will be broadcast on World AIDS Day, Friday 1 December 2006 at 8pm, on SKY 3, telling the stories of individual children's lives in Swaziland and Malawi.
The hour long programme follows Ewan and Charley on their respective journeys to Malawi and Swaziland, two countries hard hit by HIV in Southern Africa, exploring how children are missing out on their childhoods because of HIV, giving deeply personal accounts of their experiences.
During the programme, the pair meet children like Majaba, orphaned by AIDS at just 13 years old and living alone in a rural area in Swaziland. They spend time to hear how children like Majabha cope alone, their hopes, struggles and dreams. They delve into the issues of stigma, the problems facing children orphaned by AIDS and are shocked to learn that with the right drugs and healthcare pregnant HIV positive mothers can give birth to babies free from HIV.
Ewan, Charley and Big Earth Director Russ Malkin are committed to raising awareness of HIV through the film and generating funds for UNICEF's five year campaign helping children affected by AIDS. Viewers and fans can donate to UNICEF's campaign helping children affected by AIDS by text, online or by phone.
Charley Boorman meets orphaned and vulnerable children in a UNICEF-supported Neighbourhood Care Point, Swaziland.
Long Way Round stars Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have put down their motorbikes for a week or two and embarked on a different kind of journey from their last, this time to raise awareness and funds for children affected by AIDS.
The pair are fronting ‘The Missing Face’, an exclusive documentary to be broadcast on World AIDS Day, Friday 1 December, at 8pm on Sky Three. The film, a deeply personal account of Ewan and Charley’s experiences, tells the stories of individual children’s lives in Swaziland and Malawi in communities devastated by AIDS. It highlights the missing faces of children that are so often lost in all the statistics.
The hard-hitting, one-off documentary has been produced by Big Earth, makers of Long Way Round, to increase awareness of children affected by AIDS and encourage donations for UNICEF’s current campaign ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’. The hour-long programme follows Ewan and Charley on their respective journeys to Malawi and Swaziland, two countries struggling with the HIV virus in Southern Africa. They explore how children miss out on their childhoods because of HIV.
UNICEF Ambassador Ewan McGregor commented, “HIV is a virus that has left virtually no country untouched and it is children that are paying a particularly high price. The documentary is called the ‘Missing Face’ because in the ocean of statistics about HIV and AIDS, it’s very easy to forget that what we’re talking about are the faces and lives of individual children. Charley and I wanted to go and fill in that missing face and help others go beyond the statistics too.”
Charley Boorman added, “About two years ago, Ewan and I did a trip called the Long Way Round and one of the highlights of our journey was working with UNICEF visiting a few different projects helping children. When we came back we wanted to do more, particularly about HIV and AIDS. I went to Swaziland, Ewan went to Malawi, to see the kind of things happening to children affected by AIDS in both countries. This documentary is not about statistics but tries to get to the individual child and show what happens to them and their individual families.”
During the programme, the pair meet children like Majabha, orphaned by AIDS at just 13 and living alone in a rural area in Swaziland. They hear how children like Majabha cope alone, their hopes, struggles and dreams in life. They delve into the issues of stigma amongst young people, the problems facing children orphaned by AIDS, and are shocked to learn that with the right drugs and healthcare pregnant HIV-positive mothers can give birth to babies free from HIV.
Boorman adds, “The UK government and all the G8 governments must keep their promises and make sure that everyone who needs anti-retroviral treatment gets it by 2010. These drugs are essential for HIV-positive children that need them and would also keep parents alive and prevent more children being orphaned. Ewan and I both believe that children should be given a future and are asking people to call on the UK government to keep the Promise to drugs for all by 2010. Log on to www.unicef.org.uk/aids to sign up now.”
Ewan, Charley and Big Earth Producer/Director Russ Malkin, are committed to raising awareness of the issues through the film and generate funds for UNICEF's five year campaign helping children affected by AIDS. Viewers who are moved to donate to help children affected by AIDS will be asked to either press the red button whilst watching or to log on at www.missingface.com where they will be able to donate by text, online or on the phone.
Transmission of ‘Missing Face’ is at 8pm on Friday December 1st 2006 on SKY Three.
Sign up to get passes to a free advance screening of Miss Potter from Entertainment Weekly.
If you live near Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco or Washington, D.C., you can get passes to an advance screening to be held in December 2006. Click on the link below to enter! Sign up will end on December 7.
The Doctor, The Tornado and The Kentucky Kid released today on DVD
The Doctor, The Tornado and The Kentucky Kid is being released today onto DVD. The DVD relives the 2005 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix through the eyes of Valentino Rossi (The Doctor), Colin Edwards (The Tornado) and Nicky Hayden (The Kentucky Kid) and it is narrated by Ewan McGregor. You can watch the trailer by clicking here.
A new trailer for Miss Potter has been released at Moviefone. Unfortunately, it requires ActiveX to play from the web site, which is a huge security risk. However, there is a Quicktime version that everyone can view safely: Miss Potter Trailer (direct link).
The sound problem from the first version of the trailer has also been fixed.
"Miss Potter" has a lot in common with 2003's J.M. Barrie-inspired "Finding Neverland": It's about a turn-of-the-century British children's author whose most famous character is called Peter, it stars Academy favorites and the plot involves a tragic loss.
"Neverland" was nominated for seven statuettes, including picture and actor, while taking home just one, for original score.
Somewhat similar to the incorporation of Barrie's book characters in "Neverland," Beatrix Potter's illustrations -- Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck included -- come to life on screen in sequences interwoven with the live-action drama.
Academy members will likely recall Chris Noonan's last helming effort, 1995's "Babe," which also involved talking animals. Both pictures have a sweetness that never gets sappy.
The Aussie, who scored director and screenplay nominations (the latter shared with George Miller) for "Babe," hadn't found the right fit for his follow-up until "Miss Potter."
This time, script was by Tony winner Richard Maltby Jr.
Renée Zellweger's performance as Potter is endearing and recalls her more contemporary work in the "Bridget Jones" movies. (She was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the first "Jones" picture.) The Potter role is more serious, though not without levity, in the tradition of Jane Austen characters.
Never-nominated Ewan McGregor, in heavy mustache, puts in solid work as Potter's determined publisher and suitor Norman Warne. Two-time Oscar nominee Emily Watson ("Breaking the Waves," "Hilary and Jackie") makes another memorable supporting appearance as Norman's sister Millie.
Likely to strike a chord with Academy voters are the themes of an artist struggling against all odds and Potter's conservationist bent (she amassed 4,000 acres of farmland, saving it from developers, and later bequeathed it to the British people.)
Among the technical accomplishments that could make it into the kudo fray is the work of costume designer and Oscar veteran Anthony Powell, Oscar-winning production designer Martin Childs and cinematographer Andrew Dunn, who lensed "The Madness of King George." Editor Robin Sales also could get attention for moving the 92-minute picture along briskly and with great joy.
Ewan McGregor is trying to kick smoking again using hypnosis, all because of Woody Allen. "I'm determined this time, really. It has to work." Ewan's wife has demanded it as a trade-off for him ruining the summer by shooting with Allen in London on an as-yet-untitled project when family holidays to California were booked. "Ève's an even bigger Woody fan than me, so she didn't really mind - when Woody calls, you have to answer. It was just fantastic and I never got over it," he says. "I was just as blown away on the first day as the last. I've always wanted to work with an old master and Woody's old and definitely a master; it was pure joy. And I was working with Colin Farrell who turns out to be an excellent bloke, a real laugh. I'm not supposed to say anything about it, really, but this isn't an out-and-out comedy, although it's very funny in places." Ewan will be back in Britain shortly, reuniting with his Young Adam co-star Emily Mortimer for Number 13, about on-set intrigue during the making of an early Hitchcock film.
Ewan fans Miss Marple, Ester, Sanne and Steffi, all from Germany, attended the Braunschweig International Film Festival (link to original story) last night and got to meet the film's producer-director Ed Blum. Miss Marple asked him about the DVD and he told her that a DVD of the film would be released in the UK in February or March 2007. She also asked him whether there would be a release of the film in the rest of Europe but he unfortunately denied it.
Thanks to Miss Marple, Ester and Steffi for the news!
Bookmark www.misspottermovie.co.uk and check out the two gorgeous wallpapers featuring Ewan, and enter the contest to win tickets to the film's London premiere. Re-visit the site in the weeks to come for more goodies.
Thanks to nbrown22-1 and ParisRouge for the heads up!
First reported at Ewan News on September 27, 2006, up to two people will get to spend a day on the set of The Tourist with Hugh Jackman in New York City benefiting Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project.
snowbone placed the winning bid of US$61,000 today. Congratulations!
LONDON — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has snapped up U.K. DVD rights to Ed Blum's directorial debut "Scenes of a Sexual Nature," which opened last weekend in Blighty.
The London-set relationship drama, which stars Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo, Tom Hardy and Catherine Tate, was shot in less than a month on a budget of just $500,000 and then self-distributed through The Really Honest Little Distribution Company, which was set up by Blum and exec producer Suran Goonatilake.
In its opening frame last weekend, "Scenes" scored $85,797 at 35 for a respectable screen average of $2,451, which was better than that posted by other openers "Little Children" ($1,475) and "Sixty Six" ($2,217) and the fifth frame of "The Devil Wears Prada" ($2,272).
"We turned down offers from several distributors so we could establish a new model of theatrical distribution in the U.K.," said Blum. "I'm delighted that Sony has now come on board for the U.K. DVD rights, it's the icing on the cake in what has been an extraordinary 18 months."
The Works is handling theatrical sales on the pic, which has sold to Australia and New Zealand (Madman Entertainment), Turkey (Bir Film), Poland (SPI International), Russia (Russian Report) and Portugal (Prisvideo)
Email update from Ed Blum - Scenes of a Sexual Nature
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
This Email was sent to a woman was a script editor on Scenes of a Sexual Nature:
I wanted to write to as many people as possible with an update of what is happening with Scenes of A Sexual Nature and to announce some exciting news.
Firstly the film opened this weekend on 35 prints in the UK and 1 print in Ireland. We have since Friday taken over £50,0000 at the box (about $100,000). Although this might not seem a great deal compared to Borat we had a screen average of £1300 per screen which, if the Bollywood Films are removed from the list (they have always have exceptionally high screen averages), we had the 7th highest screen average of all the films at the UK box office for that weekend, beating the averages for Hollywood studio films such as Sixty Six and Little Children.
We have managed to stay in a number of cinemas for our second week, although the number has dropped as so many new films are being released this week. We have however retained two key West End cinemas, Cineworld Shaftsbury Avenue and Odeon Panton Street which should help us maintain decent figures for London.
I think our marketing and publicity campaign, organised by Nick Leese, and Sarah and Karen at SWCP, was brilliantly orchestrated. Even today we are front page of the film section of the Guardian unlimited website and have a interview with Tom Hardy in the Evening Standard.
The world's biggest blind date on Friday night saw 600 people buy tickets and was a huge success generating lots of press and was featured on ITV's London Tonight.
And finally, we can announce the exciting news that we have signed a deal with Sony for the UK DVD release. Sony were hugely impressed with our theatrical campaign and feel that the high profile we created for the film will translate well into good DVD sales. Sony will be putting up all the money for advertising and press for the DVD release.
The film will be running in the cinema for a good few more weeks, and the DVD is to be launched early next year in the UK. We have now achieved a significant milestone in this project.
We still aim to release the film in the US sometime next year and we will be exploring different options for this.
Can I say again how much I appreciate all the support and effort that everybody has made towards making this film so successful.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature DVD and North American Release News
Tony from Tin Pan Films confirmed to me that Sony has made an offer (regarding a DVD release) that is being considered, and if all goes well, Scenes of a Sexual Nature will open in North American cinemas in April 2007.
The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid Collector's Edition DVD
This Email arrived in my inbox this week. You will recall that Ewan narrates this motorbike documentary.
The Collector’s Edition DVD of The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid will be released exclusively at http://www.dtkmovie.com on November 15.
This is the final version of the movie: a double disc DVD with an extended, 104 minute cut of the film and 5.1 surround sound - and over ninety minutes of extras, including an entire disc of interactive race action. It is available in the USA and Canada only. For news of releases in other countries, please visit http://www.dtkmovie.com.
The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid caught the moment when Nicky Hayden became a true world championship contender. Whatever the outcome of the current season, this is the movie that captured not just the arrival of the new generation MotoGP in America, but the arrival of an American on the top step of the sport. The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid tells the whole story of that great day – and the Collector’s Edition follows up with additional scenes chronicling the riders’ return in ’06.
The Collector’s Edition is available first exclusively at our website. Place your order today and be sure to get it fast. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Expedited shipping orders will get top priority. For full details and shipping options, go to http://www.dtkmovie.com and click BUY.
Your credit card will not be charged until your order is ready to ship.
Your credit card statement will show payment to Dr. Flix - that’s us, the filmmakers.
This is a movie by fans for fans. Buy from us and you’re helping the filmmakers as well as getting yourself some great entertainment.
Thanks for your support!
Director Faster and The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid KID
Miss Potter World Premiere at the Santa Fe Film Festival
The Santa Fe Film Festival delivers a Halloween treat – the initial announcement of 79 titles and programs that will comprise the bulk of this year’s festival, running Dec. 6-10 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Check back frequently as we begin to provide you with more background on these offerings, not only credits and synopses, but also images, links to online trailers and websites, and, of course, their scheduled showtimes and the halls where they will play in Santa Fe. Also, look for a few more surprises, as we aren’t completely done with our programming yet and will be fleshing out this slate with a few additional titles, as well as unveiling a packed lineup of parties, panels, workshops and related events ranging from a photo exhibit to a one-act play starring Gary Farmer.
46. Miss Potter (World premiere starring Renée Zellweger as children’s author Beatrix Potter)
Official ticket sales begin Novemeber 13th at our Box Office and over the telephone.
For the 8th time Braunschweig presents the audience award "The Heinrich" with a prize fund of 10,000 Euro donated by the Volkswagen Bank. High entry numbers and excellent quality films prove how well-established the competition has become. We have chosen 10 outstanding entries, but it is Braunschweig who decide the winner - before each film voting cards are handed out for the audience’s evaluation and the film with the highest average wins. The awards ceremony takes place on the 12th November.
This year our cinematic journey takes us through 9 different countries: Norway, ("The Bothersome Man"); Switzerland ("Das FrÄulein"); Austria ("Die Viertelliterklasse"); the Netherlands ("Paid" and "Northern Light"); Russia ("Family Name"); Germany ("Vier Minuten"); Poland/Luxembourg ("Your Name is Justine"); France ("Burnt Out") and the UK ("Scenes of a sexual nature").
Tickets can be purchased online for the two showings, on Wednesday November 8 at 10:15 PM and on Friday November 10 at 8 PM. Both evenings will feature special guest producer-director Ed Blum.
In an interview with TAG Theatre Company, Scotland's longest established touring theatre company (who produce work for children and young people), Ewan talks about his first memories of acting and going to the theatre.
This interview is in four parts and obviously was filmed sometime during the time Ewan was filming Miss Potter.
Ewan McGregor has signed on to star in "Franklyn," a futuristic British movie by first-time writer-director Gerald McMorrow. Jeremy Thomas will produce.
Hanway Films will handle worldwide sales for the project, shooting next summer in the U.K.
Pic is a split narrative set simultaneously in contemporary London and in a future metropolis ruled by religious fervor. It's the story of four lost souls, divided by two parallel worlds, on course for an explosive collision when a single bullet will decide all their fates.
McMorrow is a commercials director whose surreal sci-fi short film "Thespian X" won the TCM Classic Shorts prize in 2002.
Visual effects will be created by London-based f/x house Double Negative.
Ewan McGregor has signed on to star in the futuristic thriller “Franklyn,” shooting next summer in the U.K. First-time writer-director Gerald McMorrow, will make his helming debut on the film set simultaneously in contemporary London and in a future metropolis where there is no separation between church and state. It’s the story of four lost souls, - Esser, Milo, Emillia, and Preest - divided by two parallel worlds, on course for a cataclysmic collision when a single bullet will decide all their fates.
Preest is a masked vigilante detective, searching for his nemesis on the streets of Meanwhile City; a monolithic fantasy metropolis ruthlessly governed by faith and religious fervor. Esser is a broken man, searching for his wayward son amongst the rough streets of London’s homeless. Milo is a heartbroken thirty-something desperately trying to find a way back to purity of first love. Emilia is a beautiful art student, her suicidal art projects are becoming increasing more complex and deadly. Reality hasn’t got a prayer.
If you live in the U.K., make sure you go see Scenes of a Sexual Nature on Friday! Here is the full list of cinemas that are showing it.
Tony of Tin Pan Films, wrote in: "We are up against the Majors and their films - backed by millions, compared to our measly £260k budget - so any form of support (including dragging your friends into cinemas physically!) is appreciated.
"And, this weekend means a lot to us. If 20,000 people see the film this weekend, we qualify (and only then!) for funding from the Film Council to help us reach more cinemas.
While I had his ear, so to speak, I asked about the infamous part 2 of Press Day that was never posted at YouTube. He replied: "Part 2 of the press junket was never done because a) we got caught up in a lot of work and then the timeliness was an issue b) we used some of that footage in the recent Ewan clip. Sorry, I don’t have a better answer :("
Chatting with Ewan McGregor - The short answer: no boundaries
THE HOSPITAL, LONDON • 27.SEP.06
On screen, Ewan McGregor is one of the most transparent actors working today. His performance always seem effortless,
whether it's an intense small-budget dramatic thriller like Young Adam or a big romantic comedy confection
like Down With Love. You just never see those gears turning, and there's never a moment of starry scene-grabbing.
So it's not surprising that in person he's utterly charming, looking you straight in the eyes with
those dazzling blues as he answers your questions thoughtfully, talking a mile a minute. He's a bundle of
energy in a white t-shirt and jeans, squirming in his seat as he talks, so lively, engaging and warmly hilarious
that when the press officer appears and tells you to wrap it up, you have the urge to grab Ewan and escape out
the back door, down to the pub for a pint and a good gossip.
His new film, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, is a multi-strand British comedy with a tiny budget but a starry
cast that includes Sophie Okonedo, Adrian Lester, Gina McKee, Catherine Tate, Hugh Bonneville, Eileen Atkins, Tom
Hardy, Andrew Lincoln, Holly Aird and Mark Strong. McGregor stars in a segment opposite Douglas Hodge, as a gay
couple struggling with the realities their long-term relationship. It's an unusually small role for McGregor,
but at the time it was the perfect choice.
After all those big movies, here you are earning minimum wage again.
Yeah, but I suppose it didn't take me by surprise. If you want to work on good stuff, I think the worst thing
you can do is set yourself up any kind of limits. I've tried always not to do that in terms of the characters
I play. My choices are based solely on the script, the story, the writing and the characters, and never anything
else. And that way you can have great variety and, as a result, great fun in your work. And second you can think, "I'm
only going to make films in Hollywood or I'm only going to make independent films." But you're just
giving yourself boundaries. "No boundaries" is the short answer.
You were on stage in the West End production of Guys and Dolls when you made this film.
In many ways it was wonderful, because my boyfriend in this story is played by Douglas Hodge - and on stage I was
Sky Masterson and he was Nathan Detroit. We'd rehearsed together for six weeks, and we'd been on stage
for a couple of months I think. So we had this great working relationship anyway, and then when we were sent the
script - we were both sent it at the same time - we discussed it and thought it was a great scene. You know, everyone's
story in this film is a long scene. And it was exciting to think that we'd be doing that together. And then
once we'd committed to doing the film, we were able to work on it before we shot it. Because in our experience,
12 or 13 pages of dialog in two days is quite a tall order. So we thought the best way that was achievable was
to have the whole thing down. And we didn't know whether Ed [Blum, the director] was going to cut it into
sections or shoot it from start to finish. But since we'd done some work on it, we were able to start at the
beginning of the scene and play it right through to the end. And that's in fact how we shot most of it. Most
of the angles he set up were shot start to finish. It was more like theatre in that respect than anything else
- it was great.
Did you have any issues with doing a gay scene?
I just wanted to play it as a scene between two people. I think the idea of playing gay is unhelpful. These are gay
men in the scene, so that takes care of itself. I think you've just got to play the truth of the scene, and
that makes you a gay man. I mean, what is a gay man? There are as many different types of gay men as there
are straight men, you know. So I think we were just concentrated on the themes of it and the truth of it. I think
the themes are quite particular to a gay couple - the idea of fidelity or infidelity has been part of the relationship.
It would be a different scene if it was a man and a woman talking about the guy who's always sleeping around.
However in the rules of their relationship, if you like, it's allowed, although it's causing Brian to
be sad, you know. So that's their dilemma. And then I think the idea of wanting children would be very different
if they were a man and a woman instead of two men. But then I thought these are just two people who are in love
with one another, and it was important to make the relationship feel like it had been lasting for a long time,
because they're supposed to have been together for 14 years. And I like to think we did. I wasn't aware
of trying to be gay in it. I was just trying to play the scene, really.
This is the polar opposite of an effects-based film set like Star Wars
They're all different from each other, and I think that your job as an actor is to try and maintain the integrity
of the scene regardless of the surroundings. It can be very tricky in a blue screen environment, but it can also
be difficult when you're shooting on location on the street and there's paparazzi everywhere - and you
want to kill the paparazzi - and you're still having to do your acting. You know, that's difficult too.
So it's fair to say that it's all a challenge. But in this respect we had a very enclosed area of Hampstead
Heath, so there were no worries about that kind of thing. We had privacy and we were able to just play the scene.
And it was such a great scene to play because it was such a lovely piece of writing. I think we had two and a half
With your busy schedule, it must have been easier to do a short shoot like this.
At the time I was in Guys and Dolls for six months, so in many respects I had all the time in the world. But
the thing about being on stage is that it takes such a massive amount of energy that you really guard your time off.
It's quite interesting that with my family and stuff it sounds like a great schedule - you're working only
in the evenings except for Wednesday and Saturday. But in actual fact you're so knackered, and you have to protect
your time off, that it's trickier than you might think. So the idea of doing a film for two and a half or three
days doesn't seem like a big deal, but we were shooting all day long. And then the first day of the shoot we
went on stage that night, and we’d been in the sun all day long. I thought I had sunstroke and I really worried.
I thought, "I'm going to blow this tonight." And all night long I kept thinking, "Oh no - that's
all right. I got through that bit - all right." So it worked out.
Did you mix with any of the other cast in the film?
Adrian Lester walked through our scene, and it was lovely to meet him because he's a great actor and a nice
bloke. So it was nice to meet him briefly, but apart from that we were just self-contained. But we did manage to
get a lot of the extras - a lot of the guys round about us in the scene were dancers and actors from Guys and
Dolls. Because a lot of them had never been on a film set and wanted to know how that worked. And so Douglas
and I spoke to Ed, and it turned out he was having problems finding extras and so it was quite handy. And we took
a bunch of the guys up there. [Major coughing fit] Sorry, my children have given me this terrible cold.
How is it working for a first-time director?
I think it's exciting working for a first-time director. Because very often you get someone at their most passionate
and at their most committed. I met with Ed and he was so passionate about it. And another draw for the film was the
way he'd set it up. He'd been so frustrated trying to make films in Britain, and not getting to the point
where they were made, that he kind of cut out the middlemen, of which there are hundreds swanning around Soho doing
lunches and snorting enormous amounts of cocaine and not making any films at all. They're self-aggrandising
arseholes, so he cut them all out of the picture. He had the script written and he and the writer [Aschlin Ditta]
took the script to agents, and the agents sent the script to their clients because it's good writing, and all
the clients responded to it. So that's why you've got that great cast list. And then we shot it, and now
it's going to have quite a large release in November. So it was fantastic to be involved in the project just
because of that. The only way to create a healthy British film industry is to make more films and have them seen.
We have too many films sitting on shelves that are never going to be seen.
What about your next film, Miss Potter?
I play Norman Warne, who was Beatrix Potter's publisher, who came from a family of a publishing house in London.
And it's a love story between the two, between he and Beatrix, and they were engaged to be married. And it was
lovely to work with Renée [Zellweger, who plays Beatrix] again having done Down With Love with her.
It's always nice if you have continuity with the actors and come back to work with someone a second or third
time. It's lovely. And we had a great time.
Are you going to hit the road again with Charley Boorman?
Next year we're going to go from John O'Groats to Cape Town, down through Africa. It should be amazing.
Yeah, it's been really successful as far as Long Way Round, in terms of it being an incredible experience
that we’ll never forget and also, you know, it's certainly changed Charley's life. He's now
published his second book, Race to Dakar, which is great. I finished it last night - I thought it was a good
read. So we're off next year. It should be really nice - same team: Claudio on the camera, Russ and Dave and
Jimmy. We should have a good laugh.
Anything you'll do differently this time?
Take less! I mean we just had so much kit last time that we never needed. So I think it'll be an exercise in
taking the bare minimum. In actual fact, the only things you might need are things that would go wrong on the bike.
Because you're travelling through generally populated areas, and so as long as you've got a little bit
of food and some water, and ways to purify water, and something to sleep under, you don't really need anything
else. I mean, I don't think so. You could carry all the spares for the bike, but then you may as well just have
someone else on another bike. But we'll see - we'll find out if we take too little. I'd much rather
have too little than too much. And I think also we were adamant - or at least I was adamant - that we spend as little
time as possible with our support crew. We rode the three of us: just me, Charley and our cameraman Claudio. I think
this time we'll probably meet up with our support crew more often, just because, well why not? We have a
good time when we're together and I think security in Africa might be more of an issue in some of the countries
we're going through - Sudan, and we're going to try and nip into the Congo and stuff, so there will be
areas where we might need them.
But then, it's more interesting when things go wrong.
Absolutely. I did a bike trip around France once and nothing happened. I just rode round France and came home, and
it was fairly boring. Whereas when the bike breaks down in the middle of Mongolia, and you have to buy a Russian
one that doesn't work, and you meet guys coming out of a truck in the steppes, and they fix the bike for you
- that's what the journey's all about. It's important to remember that, because you can get obsessed
with timekeeping and sticking to this notional schedule that you made up in a room in Shepherd's Bush.
Ewan fan Clara Swift saw Scenes of a Sexual Nature tonight and has given me permission to post her
I had high expectations of this film, I was worried they might be too high, but I'm pleased to report that
Scenes of a Sexual Nature is as good a film as it promised to be.
It's very, very British. That was one of the things that Aschlin Ditta said he consciously wanted to be
present in the script, he wanted it to be a British film about British people. So the cultural references are to
all things Brit: Noel Edmonds, Noel Gallagher, that kind of thing. He said that not knowing all the cultural references
in the show never stopped him from enjoying The West Wing. The same will be true of this film should it hit the
US market. It speaks about things we all understand.
So we have a film of seven very different stories about love and relationships all set on that quintessential
London location; Hampstead Heath. The characters move around the Heath, their stories brushing lightly against
the fringes of others. Sometimes it's laugh out loud funny, sometimes it's poignant, sometimes it shows
the quirks and oddities of love, the imperfections that partners bear in relationships because they just love someone,
and our Ewan is one of the most imperfect characters in the film.
The performances are excellent across the board. These guys all worked for basic equity wage but still give top-notch
performances. They signed on because they loved the script, not for untold riches. The opening vignette that starts
Andrew Lincoln and Holly Aird - the one you may have seen in the trailers, 'my husband is staring at your
pants' is a real stand out - the most obviously funny, but there's also the constant running thread of
the old couple who find they've both been coming to the same bench for fifty years which, in turn, leads to
a touching discovery. There's a lovely piece between Hugh Bonneville and Gina McKee too; it moves from awkward
to funny to bleak in a few wonderfully acted minutes.
So what of Ewan and Douglas Hodge? Their scenes are longer than I'd expected and they too play through
a series of emotions. Their performances are light and nuanced and there's a believable chemistry between
them, born of the fact they spent hours rehearsing the scene together in the empty auditorium of the Piccadilly
Theatre before performances of Guys and Dolls. I have it on good authority that the majority of the outtakes are
of Ewan and Douglas laughing. I can report too that Ewan looks lovely in his close ups, the grin is much in evidence
and there are not one, but two, man kisses.
I'll end up by saying that I would have loved this film even if Ewan weren't in it. The fact that he
is a bonus! He can turn down James Bond as many times as he wants if he's going to be in films like this instead.
The fact that so many big name actors were prepared to appear for so little money is a testament to the wonderful
script. I'll be back for a second helping at the weekend. I really hope that you'll all get a chance
to see this film. It's a little gem.
She also added:
And I spoke to Ed Blum privately after the Q&A session. I hadn't had a chance to ask about a North American
release and didn't want to leave until I had. He said at the moment there is nothing definite. During the
Q&A, Natasha D. asked him about the blogs and what impact he thought they'd had. He said he really wasn't
sure. After he said he had no news on a US release, I told him that the blog spots were creating quite a buzz in
the US Ewan fan-communities and that people were cross-posting them and publicising them and that I knew a lot
of Ewan fans in the US who were desperate for a US release. His ears perked up at this and he asked me to email
him and he'll let me know what's developing on the US release front. I don't think he realised the
size and devotion of Ewan's fan comms. He asked me if I was going back to review it on my blog and I told
him yes. He said Ewan was lovely and incredibly professional. He also told a lovely anecdote about hearing that
Ewan had signed for the film. His reaction was 'oh, fuck', in fact, that was all he could say for the
next several minutes. He said that was when he first got a pit of fear in his stomach! He also called Ewan 'the
country's biggest film star'. Nice to see someone acknowledges that.
‘I hope our trip around the world will inspire others to do something different with their lives’ Ewan McGregor
The above quote was made on the successful TV series "Long Way Round" starring Ewan McGregor and his actor friend
Charley Boorman when they toured around the world in their motorbikes.
This greatly inspired "Soundview Avenue" a Glasgow based still unsigned music group formerly called FREEFALL to
conceive a unique idea of touring the world in a bus to benefit 3 children's charities, The Rainbow Trust, Scottish
International Relief and Peace. The 4 months musical tour spanning 14 countries is planned and will be filmed as
a exciting new TV documentary.
‘It is exciting that this band is following in the Long Way Round tyre tracks and I wish you the best of luck
for the trip.’ Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman from "Long Way Round" with Sean and Colin.
and love. Some seek it, some need it, some spurn it and some pay for it, but we’re all involved in it. However,
the only thing that truly connects us is our attempt to connect.
On a sunny afternoon in August, temperatures soar between seven couples as they explore love, sex and relationships
on London’s Hampstead Heath. Whether it be a divorcing couple discussing how they ever got together, a gay couple
grappling with the very notion that they are now allowed to adopt or an old couple who realise they were once in
love forty years ago, the film confronts our assumptions at every turn.
With a stellar British cast including Ewan McGregor (who plays gay!), Catherine Tate and Sophie Okonedo, Scenes
of a Sexual Nature is a comedic and sexually charged look at what makes us tick.
We caught up with the lovely Ewan during a hectic round of press interviews to find out more about the film, his
character, queer adoption and how he approached playing a gay man!
Tell us about you role in Scenes of a Sexual Nature. I play Billy. There’s something quite free about
him. He’s got a brilliant partner and they have this great relationship. He goes off with other guys and has nights
out with them and that’s in the make-up of their relationship. Brian, his partner is sensible and bookish, while
Billy is more of a fun-loving kind of guy.
I think he’s a very lucky guy and yet there’s this one nagging thing in his life: he thinks he wants to have children
and he believes that it’s a possibility.
How did you approach playing a gay man? I’ve never been a soldier but I’ve played a soldier. Billy is
a human being, if he is gay or straight, it doesn’t make any difference. I put myself in the situation and try and
get the feelings and the thoughts that would be going through his head. It’s as simple as that.
What’s really nice about it is that you believe that it’s believable. They’re in love with each other and they’re
an established couple. I think that comes across very strongly. I think it was done with respect and they are emotionally
engaging. You don’t emotionally engage with them just because they’re gay, you emotionally engage with them because
of their situation.
Why did you get involved in the film? I got involved because of the script. The writing was very good
and I think the whole idea that the film was being made really appealed to me. Many films these days don’t get made
and so many films struggle to get financing.
I thought the structure of the film worked really well. I’d like the debate in it. I liked the discussion about
these two gay men adopting a child and what that would mean in their lives. When I first read the script I just thought
this could actually be any couple. It didn’t really matter if they were gay or straight. There is a potential for
both those characters to commit to one another and to bring up a child and I think it’s believable.
was it working with Douglas Hodge, who plays your partner of 15 years Brian? Doug and I were doing Guys
and Dolls at the time and the idea that we were working together on stage and would be shooting this during
the day was appealing. It was a nice continuity to what was going on.
We worked on it a few times together before shooting because we wanted to be on top of the dialogue. We didn’t know
if we were going to shoot it in sections. We worked on it so that we could play it from start to finish. It’s a rarity
to have access to the other actor to do that. We would run it a couple of times between shows and come in early a
couple of days before shows as well so that we could play it through.
What was it like working on such a low budget film? I’m lucky enough to make big films, but also smaller
ones and the smaller ones tend to be more enjoyable. There’s something about the lack of budget that enhances the
experience and you’ve got to solve problems there and then. It was nice to know everyone’s name by the end, whereas
on a bigger film sometimes you don’t know who anyone is.
I really wanted to do this film because the writing was good. I also thought our scene was really lovely I was really
pleased with the result. I think the scene worked perfectly because of what Doug was doing, the choice of shots and
the way it was edited. I think it came together perfectly.
Have you seen the finished film? When I got the chance to watch the film I loved it. Watching the film
was like having a glass of champagne. All of the performances are hugely believable and touching, in one way or another.
I meet people all the time who don’t know about Hampstead Heath. They don’t know it’s there. It’s the nearest
thing you can get to being in the countryside, being in the wilderness in central London. It makes you think about
what love means in your life and if you’re lucky, like I am, then, it makes you reflect on your own happiness through
Ben Kingsley and Emily Mortimer have joined Dan Fogler and Ewan McGregor in drama "Number Thirteen." Chase Palmer
penned the script and makes his helming debut.
Union Square Entertainment's Jason Berk and Matt Lane will produce with Gail Mutrux. Union Square is financing
the film, which begins shooting in February.
Fogler plays a young Alfred Hitchcock as he tried to make "Number Thirteen," a first film he never completed. In
the fictional storyline, the director becomes involved in his own Hitchcockian dilemma involving romance and murder.
Pic is the first to be financed by Union Square, which will make the domestic and overseas distribution deals.
Kingsley's repped by CAA, Mortimer by WMA and Brillstein-Grey.
Exclusive Offer for Friends of Scenes of a Sexual Nature...
Your support for our film has been amazing, and I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you
The film industry bible, Screen International, wrote an article last week saying that we are 'subverting
normal film industry practise' and re-writing the rules of how a feature film can be made and distributed.
I now need all your support for the last battle to sell tickets on the opening weekend Nov 3rd, 4th and 5th. The
opening weekend sales is everything in a feature film's success and I hope every one of you and your friends
will come and see it.
As a way of thanking you for all your support so far and helping to sell the tickets, I am going to make you an
* If you sell 20 tickets, you will be given a Credit in our film. These credits will be on all the film DVDs and
in all the cinemas when we release the film in United States next year.
* The person who sells the highest number of tickets will be given a part in my next Feature Film (if the person
is an aspiring actor, actress) or will be made part of the core production team (if the person is an aspiring Director,
Producer, Editor etc).
* Your name
* The names of your guests that you have sold the tickets to
* The names of which Cinemas and Times your guests will see the film
We will have Marshals wearing 'Scenes of a Sexual Nature' t-shirts at each of the film showings during
the opening weekend (Nov 3, Nov 4, Nov 5). When your guests arrive at the cinema, please speak to a Marshal who
will then note down your guests' names against your list of ticket sales
The winner for the person to sell the highest number of tickets will be announced on the Wednesday following our
THE selection process to choose the new James Bond was so secretive that even Q — the fictional head of the British
secret service — would have been proud.
Now its cover has been blown with the revelation that Ewan McGregor, the prolific Scottish actor, was the first
choice of producers to replace Pierce Brosnan as 007.
The role eventually went to Daniel Craig, the English actor whose craggy, careworn features are believed by some
traditionalists to clash with the character’s smooth image.
The Perthshire-born star of Trainspotting and Star Wars turned down the offer because he feared he would be typecast
and was concerned about committing to another series of films following his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In a blow to Craig, Martin Campbell, director of the latest Bond film Casino Royale, has admitted that he “wasn’t
totally convinced” that the English actor would be a match for his predecessors, including Sir Sean Connery.
Campbell, who also directed GoldenEye and the Zorro movies, claims McGregor was approached early in the long search
to replace Brosnan.
At the time it was rumoured that the actor had been given a screen test. However, he refused to be drawn. “I think
he got another job or decided he didn’t want to do it,” Campbell said.
Instead, McGregor, 35, has chosen an eclectic mix of projects. While Craig was filming Casino Royale, McGregor was
playing Norman Warne, the tragic suitor of Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter, a biopic of the children’s author starring
McGregor is currently in New York filming The Tourist, a psychological thriller in which he plays an accountant
who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after being lured into a sex club.
Despite the Bond role being one of the most glamorous and lucrative in the film industry, insiders said they were
not surprised that McGregor turned down the offer to play 007.
Even Connery, arguably the best-loved Bond, who endorsed McGregor as a future Bond, urged caution, describing the
role as a “poison chalice”.
One film industry source, who asked not to be named, said: “I think he’s got a greater range than being stuck in
that role, which he would be for quite some time.”
Though McGregor said in one interview last year that playing Bond might be “fun”, he said he would worry about the
extent of the commitment.
“With Star Wars, we did a three-month shoot and a couple of weeks of pick-ups so it wasn’t an enormous involvement.
But with Bond, I suppose it’s a much longer shoot and there’s a massive amount of publicity,” he said. “I would worry
about not being able to do any other work.”
The deal with Craig, who starred in Layer Cake and The Jacket, was announced last October. It is understood that
the multi-million-pound agreement is for three films.
Last updated at 10:26am on 20th October 2006 Baz Bamigboye
Emily Mortimer, who joins Ewan McGregor and Dan Folger (an up-and-coming Broadway actor) in the film Number 13.
It's about the making of the uncompleted movie - Number 13 - by Alfred Hitchcock in 1922.
Miss Potter whimsical and light or seriously literary?
Gold Derby by Tom O'Neil
October 13, 1006
Harvey Weinstein has decided to request that "Miss Potter" be placed in the comedy/musical categories at the Golden
Globes. That backs up early speculation about the biopic of "Peter Rabbit" novelist Beatrix Potter starring Renée
Zellweger, who will probably be nommed for best actress by the foreign press. "Miss Potter" has not yet been shown
outside studio circles, so its tone (whimsical and light? seriously literary?) was not known, although a
comedic touch was suspected since it's directed by "Babe" helmer Chris Noonan. "The film has a sweet, light
touch," a studio source tells The Envelope, "with lots of British humor."
You can now pre-order a mug designed by Ewan for £9.99 (approx. €14.78/US$18.83). The proceeds go to Trade plus
Aid & Unicef. Each mug comes in a gift-box with a photograph of the artist/celebrity and a personal message from
them. Whateverittakes expects to receive the mugs on 5 December 2006.
short interviews with Crispin Bonham-Carter who played Comte de Croisenois in Scarlet and Black. There are
clips from the film with lots of Ewan in the first one. He says Ewan was always planning raids on the hotel kitchen
in the middle of the night.
Click on the link above and scroll down to the picture of Ewan and Napoléon (played by Christopher Fulford)
to find the links to the videos.
Hennessy Cognac Presents Hennessy Artistry, 'The Global Art of Mixing'
Wed, 18 Oct 2006 21:00:00 GMT
Author : Hennessy Cognac
NEW YORK, Oct. 18 -- Hennessy, the world's finest cognac, hosted a spectacular music experience, Hennessy Artistry,
in New York City last night, following a 20 date city tour that has taken the nation by storm. As a brand deeply
rooted in the music industry, Hennessy brought together Kanye West, The Strokes, Goldfrapp and DJ Carl Cox for one
night only as a true testament to the "Global Art of Mixing."
The closed-door music event, at Capitale in New York City, was the hottest party of the season. Celebrities and
tastemakers from around the world shared in the Hennessy mixing experience within a limited capacity crowd, creating
a completely unique experience.
Celebrities that attended the event include:
Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Pharrell, Ewan McGregor, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lance Armstrong, Carmen Electra,
Tracy Morgan, Damien Fahey, Drea De Matteo, Danny Masterson, Diane Kruger, Joshua Jackson, Maria Menounos, Jo Cross,
Katie Lee Joel, Vanessa Minillo, Lydia Hearst, Rosie Perez, Gavin Degraw, Dylan Mcdermott, Susan Castillo, Jane Krakowski,
Erika Christensen, Dorrian Missick, Kiera Chaplin, Constantine Maroulis, The Misshapes, Greg Bello, Justin Theroux.
Last night Hennessy also unveiled its Hennessy Artistry World Experience Bars with the debut of Four Global Hennessy
Cocktails -- The New York, Paris, Shanghai, & Moscow. Each bar and signature cocktail was an introduction to how
people mix Hennessy around the world.
As Hennessy is the mix of the finest eaux de vies, the Artistry tour has been an exemplification of that by mixing
hip-hop, pop rock, glam-electronica and international beats.
"We are absolutely thrilled with the outcome of our 'Global Art of Mixing' Event'," said Yvette Baez-Goss,
Brand Director, Hennessy US. "The performances by the artists were unbelievable and we are so pleased with the amazing
event turnout. Hennessy has been actively involved with the music scene for over two decades, and we are excited
to continue supporting "up and coming" as well as established artists."
Hennessy Artistry is a mix of the finest cocktails and artists brought together by Hennessy to create a unique blend
of music, style, culture and people. Each event is a unique collaboration promising unforgettably entertaining experiences.
The art of mixing strong characters, pure talent, and vibrant cocktails creates a truly unique Hennessy experience.
Make It A Night To Remember, Not One to Forget. Enjoy Responsibly.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Kanye West - This best selling artist and innovator has sold over 10 million albums worldwide, has won three Grammy's
(nominated for eight), two BET awards and has collaborated with stars including Jamie Foxx and John Legend.
The Strokes - One of the most critically acclaimed NYC rock bands in the world, their distinctive style, sound and
character have been mimicked by many, but matched by none.
Goldfrapp - Visually stunning performances, glam-diva decadence and the pioneer of electronica sound. Goldfrapp
is one of the most innovative groups in new music. The lead singer, Alison, is hailed as one of the sexiest women
in UK music.
Carl Cox - Having pioneered his art for over 20 years, taking in styles as diverse as soul, acid jazz, techno, and
progressive house, Carl is, without question, one of the world's most successful DJ's and the Godfather
of house music. An international superstar who has featured in the DJ top-ten since its conception, Carl Cox is respected
as one of the world-leading exponents of the turntable sound.
Hennessy is the world's leading premium cognac brand. Founded in 1765, the house of Hennessy has continually
strived to create the world's finest cognacs.
Hennessy is a master of the art of blending fine aged, eaux-de-vie and has been creating fine cognac for seven generations.
The heritage and savoir-faire has earned Hennessy Cognac world-wide acclaim and the appreciation of today's
greatest cognac connoisseurs, making the brand the World's #1 cognac and the one of the World's most sophisticated
Hennessy is the perfect partner for blending cocktails as cognac is a 100% grape-based (hence fruit) spirit. It
is the most sophisticated base for mixed drinks and cocktails, and this will be brought to life with Hennessy's
four world city cocktails.
Hennessy Artistry is a continuation of Hennessy's relationship with contemporary music. The program sees Hennessy
continuing its support of music and urban culture.
Hennessy has previously given support to musical icons such as R&B's hottest new star John Legend, the legendary
Isaac Hayes and eminent Hip Hop artist Rakim.
C'mon guys. You posted Press Day Part
1 back on September 28 (more than 2 weeks ago) but you never posted Part 2. Described as "The day of press
interviews with Ewan McGregor, Catherine Tate, Adrian Lester", Part 1 only had Ed Blum (that we're all familiar
with) and the film's writer. We like you, but we want to see Ewan!
This latest video was posted 7 hours ago, and I was the second one to view it. People are losing interest and surely
you don't want that!
UKTV has a lovely
feature on Scarlet and Black which aired this past Saturday. There's a Ewan quiz and a picture gallery.
Don't wait too long to check out the site, we don't know how long it will be there.
When former schoolmates Aschlin Ditta and Ed Blum sat in a north London pub devising a film that could be made for
as little money as possible, they decided to set everything around the corner, on Hampstead Heath. One of the keys
to making a successful film is having a script that can be brought to life on the resources available, and Ditta
and Blum had no resources.
They pulled it off, though. A year-and-a-half on from that pub meeting, Scenes of a Sexual Nature - written
by Ditta and directed by Blum - premiered on Sunday as the closing film of London's Raindance film festival.
A romantic comedy featuring 14 established British actors - including Ewan McGregor, Catherine Tate, Sophie Okonedo,
Gina McKee and Mark Strong - Scenes is probably the most star-studded home-grown movie of the year.
Also showing at Raindance was London to Brighton, a highly-praised gangster thriller that won Paul Andrew
Williams the best new director award in Edinburgh this summer. Both films cost about £100,000 each and will
achieve in the coming months what most debuts fail to - general release in mainstream cinemas. They are part of what
Elliot Grove, the Raindance artistic director, descibes as a burgeoning number of "micro-budget" British
independent films. "First-time film-makers are finally realising that they need to develop a certain type of
product," he says. "They are sussing out the market. They are making films that the market wants to see."
More independent films are being made these days. The most obvious reason for this is because digital technology
makes it is possible to shoot something of cinema quality with a cheap DV camera and a laptop. The Plague,
a rough-and-ready look at urban life and London's underground hip-hop scene, which opened last week the Genesis
cinema in east London, cost £3,500. In fact, the plummeting costs of film-making has caused inflation in the
terminology. "Low-budget" now means a film made for about £1m - the high-end for first-timers. A
film costing no more than half that is classified "micro-budget". The Plague is considered "no-budget".
Scenes of a Sexual Nature started off with no budget. Not only was everything set in daylight in the local
park, there were to be virtually no props. Ditta structured the movie as a collage of seven separate stories, each
involving a different couple - an acerbic cross between Short Cuts and Love, Actually.
Neither Blum nor Ditta expected to make a film with A-list stars, but they thought they might as well aim high.
Once he had finished the script, Ditta - a former stand-up who has written TV drama and sketches for The Catherine
Tate Show - sent it to some of his actor mates. At the same time, Blum and his friend Emma Style, a casting director,
sent the script to some theatrical agents. The response was positive. "The script hit the mark, it's as
simple as that," says Blum, a TV director whose CV includes The Bill and Crimewatch.
Style adds: "We started to put together our wish-list and making offers. Fantastically, people came back really
quickly. Once one person signed, it started the ball rolling. It became like a snowball: 90% of our first choices
Since there was no money, the actors were offered Equity minimum and a percentage of future profits. The shoot was
very actor-friendly: each actor was only required for two or three days; it took place in Hampstead, near where most
of them live; and it was August, when there was not much other work on.
One of the first people to come on board was Hugh Bonneville: "I thought I don't care if there is no money,
I've got to do it. It's one of the best scripts I have read in years. It's got charm and warmth and
originality. Also, it was the prospect of working with Gina [McKee] again. I said I'd do it if she'd do
"Because you are doing a film for virtually no money and everyone is in the same boat, there is an energy on
the set. It's not guerilla film-making, but it has an ad hoc feel to it without being amateur. It doesn't
happen more often because there are not enough good scripts."
Blum decided to shoot on 16mm with a proper crew, so he needed to raise about £100,000 for the rental of equipment,
catering, location hire and costs. With stars signing up, he presented the project to investors two weeks before
shooting was due to begin. They believed in him sufficiently to come up with the funds to get the film in the can.
Blum also remortgaged his flat to top up the budget and took to cycling to save money on public transport.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature and London to Brighton were only feasible because the crew agreed to work
for free, or for a tiny amount. Working on a film that has a chance of a cinematic release - and therefore your name
on the credits - is enough of a draw to those near the bottom of the industry's food chain. Ken Marshall, producer
of London to Brighton, says: "For everyone who worked on the film, it was either their first feature
or a step-up from what they had done before. Okay, so you might get into a bit of debt, but that struggle helped
the film. Everyone was in the same boat, there were no egos, you pulled for each other."
London to Brighton was also initially funded by private investors. Though there are organisations that give
loans or grants, film-makers are increasingly bypassing the bureaucracy and going directly to wealthy individuals.
According to Grove, Britain is now probably the easiest place in the world to find money for film financing. "Raising
the money is probably the easiest part of the puzzle. The problem is always the script. But that is getting much
better in the UK now. Films that succeed tend to be genre-specific."
In order to keep costs down, film-makers are increasingly savvy. Coffee Sex You is a no-to-micro-budget production
that will begin shooting imminently. Its producer, Emma Meaden, says: "It's a film about coffee. We need
to shoot in restaurants and cafes. I went round restaurants asking if we could film there. Some let us do it for
free, others like the publicity and give us free food. One is giving us 100 free lunches. It all comes together in
The Plague counted on the help of London's underground hip-hop community. "The film was based on
me and my friends growing up," says Greg Hall, its 25-year-old director: "No one was making films for us.
To get it made we had to blag, borrow and steal." The Plague was championed by Mike Leigh, and it won
the inaugural Katrin Cartlidge Award, which gave it the momentum to gain a small cinema release.
Getting a film shot is only the first hurdle, since most films never make it to cinemas. With a rough cut of Scenes
of a Sexual Nature, Blum returned to his investors and asked for more money to complete the edit. London to
Brighton, on the other hand, received £185,000 for post-production from the Film Council.
The next step is for the film to be offered to distribution companies, who will take it on if they believe they
can get some kind of release for it. London to Brighton is being distributed by Vertigo Films. The team behind Scenes
of a Sexual Nature, on the other hand, turned down a distribution offer to do it themselves.
Blum says his main investor, technology entrepreneur Suran Goonatilake, persuaded him it was in everyone's
best interests to keep things within the team. "He is from a business background and thought that the deal offered
by the distribution company was diabolical," says Blum. "The investors all agreed." Blum and Goonatilake
set up their own distribution company and hired experts to broker the film into cinemas. It will start on 37 screens,
which Blum believes will make it the biggest self-distributed film in the UK.
Blum argues that this way the money will come back to the investors and filmmakers more quickly and transparently,
rather then being held by the distribution company. "Private individuals are much more adaptable and willing
to take risks. If our business model works there could be more low-budget British films. It could revolutionise the
It may not do that, but it has certainly changed his own fortunes. He is now on the books at the William Morris
agency in the US. Aschlin Ditta has been inundated with work, Paul Andrew Williams is close to a deal on a £2m
movie and Greg Hall has been commissioned to make a new film by the Manchester International Film Festival. Making
their movies has, evidently, been worth the struggle.
· Scenes of a Sexual Nature is on general release from November 3; London to Brighton from
December 1. The Plague is on limited release now
Director/producer Ed Blum's latest video
at YouTube talks about the film being featured on MySpace's
home page. It seems to be visible to UK residents only, and it's about how you can win tickets to the UK premiere
of Scenes of a Sexual Nature.
Posted: Tuesday October 3rd 2006 12:42am
Author: Garth Franklin
Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams have joined the cast of the psychological thriller "The Tourist" reports
Scripted by Mark Bomback, Jason Keller and Patrick Marber, the story revolves around an accounting consultant who,
while passing from one job to another, meets a charismatic, womanizing lawyer who personifies everything the numbers
cruncher wishes he could be. The accountant delves into an erotic world of underground sex clubs.
Production begins in New York on October 13th, with Marcel Langenegger making his feature directing debut. A
domestic distribution deal will be made shortly after previous studio Fox deemed the material 'too racy' and
put it in turnaround.
The upcoming thriller, The Tourist, is shaping up to have one heck of a cast. Ewan McGregor joined up with
Hugh Jackman -- great combo by the way -- back in early August and now Michelle Williams has joined the list.
In the script by Mark Bomback (Constantine), Patrick Marber (Closer) and Jason Keller, McGregor portrays
Jonathan, an accountant disconnected from life, who is reinvigorated by his new friend Wyatt (Jackman), a powerful
and charismatic lawyer who introduces Jonathan to a mysterious sex club known as The List. Shortly after meeting
the woman of his dream, Jonathan becomes the number one suspect in not only the woman's disappearance and possible
murder but also a 20 million dollar theft.
Production for The Tourist was scheduled to begin on October 9th in New York City. Though the production
has been delayed a bit, filming is still expected to begin within the month.
Three new Scenes of a Sexual Nature videos at YouTube
Three new videos featuring Ed Blum, the film's director-producer, have been added at YouTube. They follow Mr.
Blum as he makes plans to have one of the film's stars at the premiere and as he screens the film before it
is sent off to be copied for the various theatres that will show the film.
None of these videos feature Ewan except for the second one. He can be seen during the screening when his scene
with Douglas Hodge is shown briefly.
The official site has been updated significantly
with a new look, blog entries from the director, Ed Blum. There's an entry labelled "Ewan McGregor says YES!" that
reads as follows:
Ewan McGregor was in ‘Guys and Dolls’ at the Piccadilly Theatre. He was playing opposite Doug Hodge who
we had also approached to be in the film. They’re the best of friends. So they both decided to come on board. I’m
told they rehersed the scene on the stage at the Piccadilly Theatre, so theoretically the script had a West End Premiere
before it was made into a film. They played off each other brillaintly on set and were a joy to work with as were
the rest of the cast.
Once we had gathered all the actors together and I looked at our full cast list, people like Ewan, Hugh, Sophie Okonedo,
who was Oscar nominated last year, Gina McKee, Catherine Tate, Adrian Lester, Holly Aird, Eileen Atkins, Tom Hardy,
Douglas Hodge, Andrew Lincoln, Eglantine Rembauville, Mark Strong, Polly Walker and Benjamin Whitrow, I thought a
dream has truly come true.
Long Way Round part of Canada's OLN's Tough Turkeys Marathon, October 8
Posted by: RAD on Friday, September 29, 2006 - 12:00 AM
This Thanksgiving, OLN has rustled up some seriously rugged, adventurous programming. Each day, catch back-to-back
episodes of OLN's top series Mantracker, Long Way Round and Wanted: Ted or Alive during
OLN's Tough Turkeys Marathon.
Long Way Round
Sun., Oct. 8 from 3 p.m. - Midnight ET/Noon - 9 p.m. PT
Travel around the world in a single day as OLN presents nine back-to-back episodes of Long Way Round. Trading
the red carpet for the open road, follow actors and friends Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Star Wars) and Charley
Boorman (Deliverance, Excalibur) as they chronicle their four-month transcontinental motorcycle journey in
the new seven-part series Long Way Round. Friends since 1997, McGregor and Boorman share a passion for motorcycles.
In 2003 they decided to make a seemingly impossible dream come true: to ride motorcycles from London to New York,
the long way. Throughout the series' seven one-hour episodes, the two men circumnavigate the longest continuous
landmass on earth - travelling through the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Canada and the United States.
Watch as they forego their comfortable lives to battle harsh terrain, soak up the stunning scenery and experience
the generosity of the people they meet while travelling the Long Way Round the world.
Note: Yes, there's a discrepancy between the number of episodes in the above article. We can assume
(and hope) that the main text has been copy-pasted from some other source about the 7-episode version and they are
airing the 10-episode version, minus the last one which contains an interview and flashbacks.
Talented actor and producer, this very incredibly popular Australian is sure to make you hop to it! Hugh Jackman
starred in many films including X-Men, Van Helsing, Someone Like You, Scoop and more and will continue to
impress with his latest film, The Tourist. His combination of talent and sexiness ensures success every time.
Tour the exciting and mysterious set of The Tourist in New York this fall with one of the great actors in
Hollywood. Join Hugh Jackman and his co-star, Ewan McGregor on the set of this film. Don't miss this
More than 100 celebrities have donated autographed memorabilia to the Luke Neuhedel Foundation for an online auction
that ends September 24th.
(PRWEB) September 20, 2006 -- More than 100 celebrities have donated autographed memorabilia to the Luke Neuhedel
Foundation for an online auction that ends September 24th. A majority of the items are autographed copies of "Loving
Luke," the self-published book of the Luke Neuhedel Foundation about Luke Neuhedel, the inspiration for LNF, who
died from cancer after a brave three-year battle. Luke’s Foundation provides financial assistance and plans events
to improve the quality of life for children diagnosed with cancer in the US. Autographed photos, posters, Playbills,
CDs, books, DVDs, apparel are also included in the auction, donated by celebrities from various arenas, such as Edward
Albee, Bill Cosby, John Irving, Donald Trump, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Gary Carter, Tony Hawk, Robin Williams, Ray Bradbury,
Tim Allen, Dakota Fanning, Clint Eastwood, Jeff Foxworthy, Patrick Warburton, Ewan McGregor, Colin Mochrie,
Richard Petty, Liz Smith, Debbie Reynolds, Alec Baldwin, and so many other caring celebrities. All proceeds from
the auction will directly benefit children with cancer.
The Luke Neuhedel Foundation was founded in 2002 by Luke’s parents, family, and friends. LNF is an all-volunteer
organization that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been granted to thousands of children fighting
cancer across the US. The Luke Neuhedel Foundation is proud that its volunteers can make sure that all funds raised
help a child in need.
Luke was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a very rare pediatric liver cancer, in 1999 at age 9 months. At diagnosis
Luke was predicted to die within a week, but his strong spirit and smiling face helped him live with his cancer for
three years. After his death Luke’s family chose to celebrate his life by working to ease the struggle for other
pediatric cancer patients and their families. LNF President, Rebecca Neuhedel, voluntarily works with social workers
and child life specialists at pediatric cancer institutions across the country to reach out to children receiving
treatment who need financial assistance and encouragement.
Pediatric cancer is the #1 killer of children in the US, affecting more children than AIDS, diabetes, congenital
anomalies and cystic fibrosis COMBINED. The incidence of cancer in children is 20 times greater than the incidence
of AIDS in children. Yet, funding for pediatric AIDS is four times greater than funding for pediatric cancer. The
occurrence of children’s cancer in the US is increasing annually; the rate of cancer in teens is increasing at a
greater rate than other cancers, including breast, prostrate, and lung. The National Cancer Institute's federal
budget for 2003 was $4.6 billion. Of that all 12 major forms of pediatric cancer COMBINED received less than 3%.
That does not include rare forms of cancer, such as hepatoblastoma. YET cancer kills more children in America than
any other disease. While adults are mostly affected by cancers of the breast, lung, prostrate, bowels and bladder,
children are mostly affected by acute leukemia, tumors of the brain and nervous system, the lymphatic system, kidneys,
bones, and muscles. The cause of many adult cancers is related to lifestyle choices; the cause of children's
cancers remains unknown. Pediatric cancer does not only affect the child, but has a major impact on the entire family.
The average annual out-of-pocket expenses of having a child with cancer are approximately 53% of a family’s gross
income. Sadly, parents of children with a chronic illness or who have suffered the death of a child have a divorce
rate of 80%.
The Luke Neuhedel Foundation is committed to raising awareness of pediatric cancer and helping families, working
toward the day when pediatric cancer is an oxymoron. More information on the Luke Neuhedel Foundation can be found
at www.lukefund.org. LNF can be contacted at PO Box 137, Massapequa Park NY 11762, 516-882-9183, or through its website.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature U.S. Distribution Prospects
Ewan fan Woosgirl wrote to Scenes of a Sexual Nature director Ed Blum regarding the film's distribution
in the U.S. This was his reply:
We are hoping that the film will be released in the US. I think it would go down really well out there.
In many ways it depends how the release goes over here in the UK, if there is enough buzz on the internet about
it then could open in America spring next year.
Long Way Round audio book NOT read by Ewan and Charley
Much to the disappointment of fans everywhere, the long-awaited and much-anticipated 5-disc audio book of Long
Way Round isn't even read by Ewan and Charley. It's read by unknowns Mark Bonnar and Rupert Degas.
I can't say I'm looking forward to receiving my copy anymore after ordering it 2 years ago.
The fifth disc contains a 38-minute interview with Charley.
I wish we knew why there is such a delay on getting this audio book released. It was recorded at least two years ago
as evidenced by some of it being aired on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime [Original
Amazon.ca now says the audio book will be
released on October 31, 2006.
Algonquin Arts and Ocean County College Inaugurate a Film Society Series
(MANASQUAN, NJ) -- The 2006-07 season marks the premiere of a new way to enjoy major motion pictures. Algonquin
Arts and Ocean County College partner to inaugurate a new Film Society.
This season's series is "Song and Dance." Movie lovers will explore how Hollywood has changed its tune over
the years. Dr. Martin A. Novelli, Dean of Humanities, Fine Arts and Media Studies at Ocean County College will introduce
three films and lead pre and post-show discussions.
Singin' In the Rain provides a perfectly entertaining example of how improvements in film color and
sound resulted in the evolution from Busby Berkeley-style extravaganzas to the more innocent "Boy Meets Girl" musicals
of the 1950's. Vietnam, social changes and counter culture gave rise to musicals like Cabaret with dark,
biting and unromantic undertones. Most recently musicals such as Moulin Rouge make music and dance the background
metaphor for social statement.
Audiences have two opportunities to view each film, Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm and the following Sunday afternoon
at 2 pm. Tickets for each showing/discussion are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors/students.
Film Society Showings
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
What a glorious feelin'! Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor sing and step to a shower of hit
standards such as Make 'em Laugh, Good Morning, and Moses Supposes. The highlight still
remains Kelly's dance with the umbrella to the title tune. Rated G. Thursday, September 28, 2006 at 7:30 pm;
repeated Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 2 pm.
Liza Minelli, Joel Grey and Michael York star in a filmic caricature of prewar WWII Berlin debauchery and turbulence.
Smashing production numbers include The Money Song, Maybe This Time, and Tomorrow Belongs to Me.
Directed by Bob Fosse. Rated PG. Thursday, October 5, 2006 at 7:30 pm; repeated Sunday, October 8, 2006 at 2 pm.
Moulin Rouge (2001)
Naive poet Ewan McGregor falls in love with cabaret star Nicole Kidman, and their ill-fated romance sets the stage
for a dazzling array of musical idioms from Elton John's Your Song and Madonna's Like a Virgin to
the potent flamenco version of the Police's Nature Boy. Rated R. Thursday, October 12, 2006 at 7:30
pm; repeated Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 2 pm.
To purchase tickets in advance to the Film Society Series, call the Algonquin Arts box office at 732-528-9211 or
go online at www.algonquinarts.org. Algonquin Arts is located
at 173 Main Street in Manasquan.
Algonquin Arts was founded in 1992 as a nonprofit corporation to promote and advance artistic, social, literary,
education, and community theatrical endeavors in Central New Jersey. Algonquin Arts outreach programs bring cultural
and educational programs to schools, community centers, and long-term adult care facilities throughout Central New
Jersey with an emphasis on Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
The programming of Algonquin Arts is made possible as a result of the continued philanthropic support of private
citizens and organizations such as New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, OceanFirst
Foundation, New Jersey Cultural Trust, Sunfield Foundation, First Energy Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation,
Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, PNC Foundation, George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust, Manasquan Savings Bank, Gannett Foundation,
Holm Charitable Trust, Target Stores, Woman's Club of Brielle, Puffin Foundation, Community Foundation of New
Jersey, New Jersey Natural Gas, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, as well as many generous individuals and local
Scenes of a Sexual Nature will be released nationwide in the UK on Friday 3rd of November 2006. It will be
in about forty cinemas across the country. This will include The Vue, Leicester Square, West End London.
The producers will be starting a major on-line campaign soon to encourage people to come to the opening weekend.
More details will be announced soon.
After two decades playing charming, easy-going types, Peter Capaldi has hit the big time as a diabolical spin doctor.
So why does the star of The Thick of It seem so miserable? He talks to Stuart Jeffries
Thursday August 31, 2006
'I hate restaurants that play music," says Peter Capaldi. "You come out for a quiet meal and you're supposed
to put up with all this booming. Why? It's madness!" It is too soon, one might think, for the 47-year-old
actor to start playing Victor Meldrew, but he is making a remarkably convincing go of it. His expressive left eyebrow
has shot up a good three inches.
We're standing in the doorway of a London restaurant, wondering where to conduct the interview. The noise is
boombastic, but not in a good way. Capaldi stomps upstairs away from the racket. If there was an audition for Last
of the Summer Wine at the top, he would be a shoo-in to play Nora Batty's crotchety love interest. But there
is no audition. Only a booth where we can sit and he can moan.
Capaldi is supposed to be talking about the gentle new BBC comedy drama Aftersun, in which he plays a sandal-and-sock-wearing
middle-aged grump. What drew him to the part, I ask. "I read the script and I thought: this is me." Capaldi used
to be a troubled young art school rebel, the front man in a Glasgow punk band called the Dreamboys. Now he's
a man who complains about restaurant music. "It happens to all of us," he says.
Who is Peter Capaldi? More likely than not, you're thinking, "Wasn't he the bloke who was in that
thing?" And the answer is, "Most likely, yes. Yes, he was!" He has been in more than 40 films and TV dramas,
including Judge John Deeds, Shooting Fish, Foyle's War and Iain Banks's The Crow Road. He was John Malkovich's
resourceful manservant in Dangerous Liaisons and he even has an Oscar for his first short film, of which more later.
But you probably know him best as Malcolm Tucker in Armando Iannucci's political sitcom The Thick of It. Tucker
was originally going to be a composite of spin doctors - Campbell, Mandelson, perhaps even Charlie Whelan - but as
the series evolved Tucker became less suave and more boorishly Campbellian. He looks like a man whose head is ready
to explode; he swears like a trooper and makes horrible threats with the abandon of a Caesar trying to forestall
the collapse of his disgustingly corrupt empire. Indeed, because Tucker is required to swear a lot, Capaldi finds
himself swearing more at home, which must be nice for his wife Elaine and 12-year-old daughter Cissy.
Capaldi, who has had something of a topsy-turvy career as an actor, says his newfound nastiness makes a welcome
change. "I'm usually required to be boyish, easy-going and charming. So I leapt at this role." In the audition
for The Thick of It, he played opposite Iannucci, who took the ministerial role. They improvised a scene in which
he told Iannucci that there had been a lot of speculation in the press about him resigning and that the government
had every confidence in him, but that if he didn't go they would look weak so he ought to resign. Up to that
moment, Capaldi had played it nice. Then he turned nasty: he made it clear that if Iannucci didn't resign he
would end up at the bottom of the river. Metaphorically, of course. Once he had got the part, Capaldi went on to
say lots of rude and hostile things about leading politicians, the most publishable of which seems to be: "He's
about as much use as a marzipan dildo."
Capaldi and Iannucci discovered that they grew up on the same street of tenements in Springburn, Glasgow. They did
not know each other, though. Otherwise, as Capaldi points out, they might have exchanged pre-verbal greetings from
passing prams. Both were born to Italian immigrants, though it was the Capaldis who had the ice-cream delivery business.
He once used his family's business in his screenplay for the 1992 film Soft Top, Hard Shoulder, about a Scottish-Italian
who will inherit part of the family ice-cream business if he can make it back to Glasgow in his clapped-out Triumph
convertible in time for his father's 60th birthday.
Now, however, Capaldi is somewhat in awe of the younger man who directs The Thick of It. "Armando likes to keep
us nervous. We always get the scripts late and barely know the words when we film. I think he likes us to be scared
so we can't rely on our technique. The scripts are always brilliant, very closely plotted and perfectly finished.
We always shoot a word-perfect version and then shoot another version in which we improvise. There's always
much more shot than you see."
Capaldi will play Tucker in an hour-long special of The Thick of It to be filmed in October. He is tight-lipped
about how the child pornography charges that actor Chris Langham faces will affect the making of the special. "I
don't know anything about what it will involve, except that it will be about the opposition." But isn't
Tucker supposed to be a Labour spin doctor? "I don't think he'd have any trouble working for the Tories." And
didn't Langham play a Labour minister? Capaldi agrees, but will say no more.
Tucker is the latest incarnation in a career that has seen Capaldi go from Oscar winner to Hollywood reject. It
all started in a Glasgow flat when he came home a little drunk to find Bill Forsyth in his kitchen, chatting with
his landlady, a costume designer. Something about Capaldi's innocent, charming demeanour appealed to the Scottish
director and he cast the young man opposite Burt Lancaster in his 1983 film Local Hero. After that strange debut
for a 25-year-old film and art student, Capaldi spent the following decade in bedsits and rep, before winning that
Oscar as director and screenwriter of Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life, which starred Richard E Grant.
He thought for a moment that he had hit the big time and could become a director. "The truth is that I got to Hollywood
and I didn't know what to do once I got there." He claims to have gone to one Hollywood meeting, where it was
discovered he was not up to direct a movie, and, disappointed, got the next flight home.
His CV suggests a career that has gone in cycles - plucked from Glaswegian obscurity to star in a film opposite
a Hollywood legend; wilderness years in rep; an unexpected Oscar; years of journeyman roles; and now back to prominence
as Malcolm Tucker. His performance as the latter has made the phone ring with offers of acting work. "A year ago
nobody was interested in me. I am suddenly wanted as a very bad man, rather than whatever I was before."
But if directors have Capaldi pegged as a very bad man like Tucker, how come he plumped for a role in Aftersun that,
after all, requires rather gentle comedy? "I was just sent the script. But you're right - the director was
worried about whether I could do gentle comedy after Tucker." Even though you've been doing that for much of
your career? "Quite."
Aftersun tells the story of Sue and Jim, a couple who married young. Twenty years on, she is on antidepressants
for empty-nest syndrome while he is basking in the fragile professional pomp of being the king of MDF. Then, as an
anniversary present, the couple's children send them on a two-week holiday to a Spanish villa. On arrival they
discover that they're sharing a pool with a pneumatic 20-year-old toff hottie and her no less vexatiously young
and lithe Spanish himbo. Hilarity, thanks to David "Cold Feet" Nicholls' script, ensues for the best part of
The comic drama of pristine youth confronting vulnerable middle age is what keeps Aftersun compelling, along with
the sniping rows between Capaldi's Jim and Sue (played by Sarah Parish from Cutting It). At one point he returns
to the villa to find Sue smoking a joint beside the pool with the Spanish himbo. "It smelled like a crack den!" he
says, with ludicrous overstatement.
"The script spoke to me because of the fungal infection on my feet," Capaldi says now. I sneak a glance at them:
sandals, no socks. Jim, by contrast, wears special anti-fungal socks that must make him a devil with the ladies when
he wears them with sandals. "In my case," Capaldi says, "the doctor says it's better to keep the air flowing."
Capaldi complains that there are too few grumpy roles for middle-aged men. "It seems to me that most things that
are being made are designed for young people. There are aren't that many depictions of melancholic older people,
even though they form a growing proportion of the population."
But he has no plans to get stuck in the middle-aged acting rut. He hopes to return to directing with a project called The
Great Pretender, which sounds like a philosophical seminar on Kantian metaphysics rather than a Saturday night
no-brainer. "It's a film about the making of a film about the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It has four
parts for Ewan McGregor." I see. Or rather, run that by me again. "There's a film about Bonnie Prince
Charlie being made in 1938." Right. "But we discover that the film's star, Lesley Grangely, who's a little
like Robert Donat, has vanished on a bender because he's an alcoholic." With you so far. "So the film-makers
get this guy who works in a shoe-repair shop to stand in for Grangely. He doesn't know that he's standing
in. He thinks he's an extra, but they use all the footage." Right. But why does McGregor, God bless him, play
four roles? "Because the role of Bonnie Prince Charlie has a stand-in. So there are two stand-ins. It was conceived
to be pieced together and it would have a pseudo-documentary feel to it. It will be really easy to make and we're
ready to go," says Capaldi, with the enthusiasm of one who has spent seven years working on the project.
There are two problems with the film, however. The first is that McGregor, whose fame has ensured that the film
is more than a complete non-starter, has got to go round the world on his motorbike again for one of those TV travelogues. "He's
going to go the other way or something." Clockwise rather than anti-clockwise? "Or vertically rather than horizontally.
I can't remember. But he has been incredibly supportive of the thing."
Capaldi won't say what the second problem is, but, given that filming was due to begin earlier this year, clearly
something isn't flowing. Possibly money. "It will happen soon. But after my experience with my last film [Strictly
Sinatra, a 2001 gangster flick starring Ian Hart that was derided by critics], what I've decided is that I will
only make films the way I want. I don't want to make a film to make a film. Strictly Sinatra became a compromise
between me and the producers and neither of us liked the results much."
He insists that he now knows what he wants to do. "I want to make this film." It could be a triumph or a turkey,
I say, adding ill-advisedly: "It's got cinematic disaster written all over it." As soon as the words are out
of my mouth, I wish I could retract them. "Oh thanks," he says, eyebrow shooting up. "I could make the title of my
memoirs: 'It's got cinematic disaster written all over it.'" He is being, I hope, ironic. Of course,
if the film doesn't work out, he could always get a part in Grumpy Old Men.
Woody Allen shoots are notoriously mysterious affairs. The director likes to keep his films shrouded in secrecy
until they are completed. Few of the crew have actually read the entire script. And journalists are rarely, if ever,
allowed on set.
Yet here I am, in the sleepy town of Hoo, Kent, watching the man in action. And he's not happy.
"It's too sunny," he frowns. He likes the flat light that we have over here. "The weather's been very
unpleasant this time."
Hollywood's finest have come to Hoo, on this wiltingly hot day, to shoot scenes from Allen's 37th movie,
as yet untitled. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell are standing around chatting, impressively quiffed and smoking heavily.
A few locals squint their eyes and wonder if the unassuming, casually-dressed men standing on the marina really
are the world-famous film stars they look like. They look even more bemused as the quintessential New Yorker and
Oscarwinning comedy legend Allen walks past them with a pair of headphones looking oversized around his slender neck.
When the first assistant director shouts that they are ready, Farrell spits out his cigarette, loads up with two
six-packs and a CD player, and follows McGregor towards the camera. Allen stands quietly by. He doesn't use
a monitor, just watches as the two stars walk down the gangplank to the boat. And he never says "Action". "I've
never said Action in my life," he says laughing.
Nor does he say "Cut". To end the take, he merely asks "OK?" softly and then shuffles up to the two actors to
give them more directions for another take. It's a very calm and collected set, no hurly burly, no histrionics.
Possibly because Allen allows his actors a good deal of freedom.
"I almost never have to say anything [to McGregor and Farrell]," he says, when I get a chance to chat to him in
between takes. "I generally tell them to go where they want, stand where they want, wear what they want, and they
do; and 98 per cent of the time what they do is correct."
Although I'm allowed to watch, there are heavy restrictions. I'm not allowed to speak to either of the
co-stars. And nobody's allowed to tell me about the plot. This is quite possibly because they don't know
themselves. All I know is that the film revolves around two brothers who turn to crime and become enemies. I also
discover that it's a melodrama more in the style of Match Point than the silly comedy mystery Scoop, which he
shot last summer. Given the panning Scoop received in America, this is probably a good thing.
The director has also found a new ingénue. Stand aside Scarlett Johannson, meet Haley Atwell. She's English
and, at 24, older than Scarlett, but she still has the angular looks and sparkling charisma that appealed to Allen
in the young Johansson. She graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama a year ago and has already made a
name for herself here with a stint at the RSC, a role in Prometheus Bound in the West End and a choice part in The
Line of Beauty on the BBC. Allen chose her from a tape he was given from a casting director in London before the
television series had aired, flew her to New York, auditioned her and offered her the role on the spot.
The dark-haired beauty is still reeling from her good fortune, so much so that she probably blurts out more of the
plot than Allen would approve. "I play Angela Stark," she says. "She's a very driven, ambitious girl who has
a working-class background but has come to London to make a name for herself. She is seductive and incredibly confident.
She knows the effect she is having on Ian, Ewan's character."
Atwell, who will star alongside Billie Piper in ITV's Mansfield Park adaptation next year, admits that they're
all somewhat in awe of Allen. The director, in turn, seems extremely respectful of his cast. "Ewan and Colin are
such perfect and exciting actors," says Allen, sitting on a bench in between takes. "I didn't really know their
work very well before. I had seen Ewan in Guys and Dolls in the theatre here and in Young Adam but Colin I didn't
know at all. Colin came in and said hello and 20 seconds later, I knew I had to have him in the film."
Allen first came to the UK two years ago to make Match Point. He had exhausted traditional methods of finance in
the US - or at least he was not prepared to work with the Hollywood movie studios who insisted that they had a say
in how the films were cast and made. Allen demands that the company invests in his vision with zero interference
in the process.
"The companies willing to work with me in that way are European," he says with a hint of resignation. "And I would
rather make films abroad and be completely free than have to go through the process that American film-makers go
through, where they have to be partners with the people who are putting the money up." Allen's track record
is good, but not impeccable. While for many years, discerning film-lovers around the world longed for their annual
fix of his wellobserved musings on the meaning of love and life such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters
and Crimes And Misdemeanors, the past decade has seen a creative slump in his output. Films such Anything Else, The
Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Small Time Crooks garnered Allen some of the worst reviews of his career.
With Match Point, however, he enjoyed a renaissance of sorts. The change of scene in England evidently agreed with
him and refreshed his creative juices. His sister Letty Aronson, also his full-time producer, certainly believes
that her brother has become more sociable with his cast and crew since he started making films in the UK.
"It's been a liberating experience working in England," she says. "Because he's not in New York, he doesn't
go home for lunch and hangs out with the group more. We had Scarlett [Johansson] working with us on the first two
films and she was very outgoing and friendly. And he likes being in London. He hires a house. His wife and kids are
here and he likes the restaurants. And the weather."
His newly laid-back attitude might explain the invitation to the set. It's the most he's ever exposed
himself to the media while a film is still shooting. Really the only surprise is just how workmanlike the production
is compared to some larger affairs with all the hoop-la that big budgets and primadonna directors entail.
As I watch Allen finishing up more takes with McGregor and Farrell, the plot of the movie might still remain hazy,
but the long-kept mystery of his shooting style has been cleared up.
He doesn't shout or even raise his voice. He is professional and gentle, maybe even a little shy. In the spirit
of openness, I decide I might as well try my luck and ask about his next film which will shoot in Barcelona, only
because a Spanish film company has offered to finance it.
But I don't get much out of him. He merely explains that he means to edit this picture very quickly in two
weeks. "And then I'll start to work on the Barcelona film."
Allen takes off and I ask Aronson how he will cope with the summer heat and bright light of Catalonia. "I know," she
says. "It's going to be very sunny and hot. He's going to have to write something that lends itself to
that climate. Or else set it all indoors."
Running from Sept 11th to 23rd 2006, the Adventure Film Festival will bring adventure to the mainstream by screening
award-winning adventure films from the world's top adventure film producers on the big screen at 54 Vue cinemas
around the UK. With this national cinema network coverage, high quality digital projection and big screen action
the festival aims to inspire the adventurer in everyone.
Your local Vue cinema will be hosting one of two different festival programmes. 18 cinemas across the UK will be
screening the full 5-night festival programme: Endurance, Storm Force, Ocean, High Altitude & On the Edge Adventures.
36 Vue cinemas will be hosting a one night event - Ultimate Adventures (For further details please select your local
Endurance Adventure night on September 11 at 8:30 p.m. - documenting adventure travel with a twist including
the world's toughest endurance races and round-the-world adventure journeys from the producers of ‘Long way
Round'; the Storm Force Adventure night - with top rating programming from National Geographic Channel
such as ‘Tornado Intercept'; Ocean Adventure night - groundbreaking footage from free-diving with sharks to
surfing the world's largest waves; High-Altitude Adventure night - the world's top exponents of skiing,
snowboarding, mountaineering and base-jumping take us on a high-action adventure from the peaks of the world's
highest mountains; and On-the-edge Adventure night - adventure from the world's most remote and dangerous
corners with jungle exploration in the unmapped interior of Papua New Guinea to the world's greatest free-climbers
scaling dizzying heights. Ultimate Adventures - This night features a selection of highlights from the films screened
in the 5-day programme; taking you around the world on an ultimate adventure.
Ever since Woody Allen fled Paris for London and started shooting his still-untitled Summer Project, we've
been incredibly frustrated in our search for details about the movie's plot. We know all about the cast (Ewan
McGregor, Colin Farrell, Hayley Atwell, Tom Wilkinson), sure, but all we knew about what the hell they were up to
was basically a single line: "Two brothers with financial problems ... are persuaded by a third party to turn to
a life of crime." Fantastic, right? Jeez Woody, you're days from finishing filming -- throw us a bone here,
But this morning, I found this (* article below). Whether they acquired the information via legal means or through
kidnapping and torture isn't clear (I think it's best we don't ask), but the folks at Cineuropa have
pulled together the first detailed plot summary for the movie, and it includes some encouraging wrinkles. Yes, Farrell
and McGregor are brothers (who, randomly, are restoring a boat), and yes, they're drawn into a life of crime
-- but apparent it's the Atwell character who does the manipulating rather than Wilkinson, or some big, hulking
brute. Here's what Cineuropa has got: "When McGregor's character falls in love with [Atwell's character],
she becomes aware of her power to attract the opposite sex and uses this to the point of leading the two brothers,
who are in financial difficulty, into crime, and creating a dangerous rivalry between the two men." Hmm. So could
this be another dark, nasty Allen flick? We can only hope.
The film is currently scheduled for a spring 2007 release, and could possibly debut at Cannes.
Filming on a new, yet untitled film by Woody Allen, co-financed by French sales outfit Wild Bunch and US-based Virtual
Films, is currently wrapping up in London.
Starring Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Sally Hawkins, Mark Umbers and Tom Wilkinson, the "Untitled
Woody Allen Summer Project" – the New York director’s third consecutive feature to be set in London after Match Point
and Scoop – is the story of two Cockney brothers in south London (Farrell and McGregor) who buy and restore a boat.
A young woman (Atwell) who lands in London on her search for fortune crosses the two men by accident on her path.
When McGregor’s character falls in love with her, she becomes aware of her power to attract the opposite sex and
uses this to the point of leading the two brothers, who are in financial difficulty, into crime, and creating a dangerous
rivalry between the two men.
The seven-week shoot, which began on July 10, is now drawing to a close, with the team and Hungarian veteran and
three-time Oscar nominated DoP Vilmos Zsigmond having travelled from Brighton to London (Studios Ealing) for filming.
The €13m budget film, which includes investment from TF1 Films Production and was substituted last spring for a
too ambitious Parisian project, has already been pre-sold by Wild Bunch to almost all international territories.
An increasingly important player in the film industry, with the production of the "Untitled Woody Allen Summer Project" the
French company has passed yet another milestone in its development and reinforces its credibility as a partner for
ambitious projects, including US films.
Slated for next spring, the film’s theatrical release could be preceded by a premiere at the 2007 Cannes
Film Festival before Allen heads to Spain for the summer to shoot a new feature produced by MediaPro.
Several Miss Potter items available for pre-order at Amazon
Amazon.co.uk has several Miss Potter-related items available for pre-ordering:
The Making of Miss Potter, paperback, £6.59
Description: This is a full-colour illustrated guide to the background and making of the forthcoming film on Beatrix
Potter's life starring Renee Zellweger as Beatrix and Ewan McGregor as the man she loved. The author, journalist
Gareth Pearce, and the photographer, Alex Bailey, were on the set throughout the filming and give a fascinating
insight into the creation of a movie.
Miss Potter: The Novel, paperback, £6.99
Description: This book is a novelisation of the movie "Miss Potter", written by the film's scriptwriter Richard
Maltby. It is set during the time when bestselling author and illustrator Beatrix Potter wrote and published her
most famous tale, about the enduring and beloved character Peter Rabbit. An 8-page full-colour insert shows scenes
from the film starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.
Thanks to Miss Marple and Roxanne for the heads up!
book contains four classic Beatrix Potter stories as featured in the forthcoming film, Miss Potter. These
stories are read by the film's four leading actors, including actress Renée Zellweger who plays Beatrix.
The film's "four leading actors" would include Ewan... we hope! Stay tuned...
After ordering this audio book almost 2 years ago, it looks like the wait is finally over. Amazon.ca added
a picture of the cover and revised its shipping date to August 29, 2006. It sells for CDN$18.48 (US$16.46, £8.69)
and it looks like it contains 5 discs. Ewan and Charley reading to us about their adventures... Heaven!
August 11, 2006
By Germain Lussier, Times Herald-Record
A sample screening of the Bravo TV documentary "Long Way Round," starring Ewan McGregor, is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
at the Kingston Library, 55 Franklin St., Kingston. McGregor and friend Charley Boorman traveled 20,000 miles on
their motorcycles and their last stop was at the Orange County Choppers warehouse in Rock Tavern. Admission is free.
Online (serving New York's Hudson Valley and the Catskills.)
Friday, August 11, 2006
By Jenni Horn, photo by Grant Falvey
Hollywood stars descended on North Kent this week to film scenes for a new movie.
Legendary funny man and film director, Woody Allen, along with Irish heart-throb Colin Farrell and Scotsman Ewan
McGregor, arrived in Hoo, near Rochester, to shoot part of a film due to be released next year.
The production, currently known only as Woody Allen’s Summer Project 2006, follows the story of two brothers (Farrell
and McGregor) who suffer severe financial troubles and turn to crime to solve their problems. But their plan goes
wrong and they become enemies. It is thought the rest of the action is set in London, where filming began last month.
Farrell, who stars in the film Miami Vice, and McGregor, who appeared in Star Wars and Trainspotting, were at Hoo
Marina on Monday and Tuesday to film scenes aboard Cassandra’s Dream.
Director and writer of the movie Woody Allen was also on site along with relatively unknown actress Hayley Atwell
who plays McGregor’s love interest.
The film also features British actor Tom Wilkinson who starred in Batman Begins.
Hoo Marina was a hub of activity as camera men, security guards, crew and press milled around.
Sex and love. Some seek it, some need it, some spurn it and some pay for it, but we’re all involved in it. However,
the only thing that truly connects us is our attempt to connect. Whether it be emotional, physical, subliminal or
sexual, as human beings we need to make contact with others. But what are the rules? How do we really know whether
someone likes us let alone is in love with us? How do we decide whether to connect with another person for a
moment indeed a lifetime?
The word that gets used most when discussing these issues is love. According to many great thinkers love is an unattainable
notion that is driven more by need than reality, according to others it is the only thing that makes the otherwise
intolerable idea of life remotely worth attempting. Scenes Of A Sexual Nature is a film that looks at some of our
attempts to find it and how we behave in love, in lust and in trouble.
Set on one afternoon on Hampstead Heath seven stories are linked by a thirty-something couple as they walk and walk
and walk without uttering a word, so much to say to one another and no way of saying it. The film investigates the
minutiae of seven couples. Whether it be a divorcing couple discussing how they ever got together, while walking
their kid, a gay couple grappling with the very notion that they are now allowed to adopt or an old couple who realise
they were once in love forty years ago, the film confronts our assumptions at every turn. It looks at the desperate
attempts of a young man to get a young woman into bed, made trickier by the fact she’s just been dumped by her lover,
and the case of what happens when a happily married couple are presented with the dilemma of the wife catching her
husband staring at a teenage girl’s underwear. We look at the extremes of hope and need set against individual identity
through the story of a Blind Date piq-niq where two forty-somethings search awkwardly and desperately for evidence
that another person may be enough like them to be a mate and at the case of the man knows it’s all impossible and
just prefers to pay for his affection.
Scenes Of A Sexual Nature is a comedic and erotically charged look at what makes us tick and it seems that what
makes us tick is complex, dark and ludicrously funny.
UK release date: 27/10/2006
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo, Catherine Tate
Directed by: Ed Blum
Official Website: Click Here
Ewan McGregor is set to star opposite Hugh Jackman in Swiss director Marcel Langenegger's "The Tourist." In
the script by Mark Bomback ("Constantine"), Patrick Marber ("Closer") and Jason Keller, McGregor portrays Jonathan,
an accountant disconnected from life, who is reinvigorated by his new friend Wyatt (Jackman), a powerful and charismatic
lawyer who introduces Jonathan to a mysterious sex club known as The List. Shortly after meeting the woman of his
dreams, Jonathan becomes the number one suspect in not only the woman's disappearance and possible murder but
also a 20 million dollar theft. Production is scheduled to begin October 9 in New York City.
For a first-time director working on a shoestring budget, the cast is impressive.
But Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo and Dame Eileen Atkins have all accepted the minimum actors' wage to appear
in an independent film set on Hampstead Heath, which follows seven couples discussing their love lives on a hot August
Despite its stellar line-up, Scenes Of A Sexual Nature cost less than half a million pounds to make and was filmed
in less than a month.
McGregor agreed to take a break from blockbusters such as Star Wars and The Island to play one half of a gay couple
contemplating adopting a child. In one scene he argues with his boyfriend - played by Douglas Hodge, who appeared
with McGregor in West End hit Guys And Dolls - over who would give up work.
"We broke all the rules," said director Edward Blum, a north Londoner himself. "Ewan came on board because he liked
"Both himself and Douglas are brilliant actors and they were incredibly generous with their time." The comedy-also
stars Polly Walker from BBC epic Rome, comedian Catherine Tate, Mark Strong, star of Our Friends In The North, and
Andrew Lincoln of Teachers.
Each cast member was paid the Equity minimum rate for their appearance. Word of mouth quickly spread about the merits
of the film's script, written by television writer Aschlin Ditta.
Blum, who has directed several television dramas including The Bill, said: "All the cast signed on during a two-week
period when there was a rapid fire of actors saying yes.
"To attract really good actors you need really good parts and material and the individual stories really appealed
"Once they knew they were going to be well looked after and the film was going to turn out well, it turned out to
be quite easy."
Another factor helped. "A lot of the actors in the film live up there and know the area," said Blum. McGregor lives
in Hampstead, Okonedo in West Hampstead.
Other tableaux in the film include a blind date gone wrong and separated spouses who get back together just before
signing their decree absolute.
Blum believes the star of the film is the heath itself. "This city has beautiful parks but it is such a wonderful
place," he said. "People talk about their lives, relationships and emotions on Hampstead Heath.
"You can see all of the major sights of the capital there and the film gives a wonderful idea of London."
• Scenes Of A Sexual Nature will be released in late October or early November.
The 'Moulin Rouge' star locks lips with fellow actor Douglas Hodge in new British drama 'Scenes Of
A Sexual Nature'.
The 35-year-old actor - who plays Hodge's gay lover in the film - says he had no trouble getting into the character.
He was quoted in Britain's Daily Express newspaper as saying: "I've never been a soldier but I've
played a soldier. My character Billy is a human being - if he is gay or straight, it doesn't make any difference." The 'Star
Wars' actor also revealed the pair got a chance to rehearse their smooch, when they starred in musical 'Guys
and Dolls' together.
He joked: "We would run it a few times between shows." This is not the first time McGregor has kissed a man in a
In another British film, 'Velvet Goldmine', he shared a smooch with actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who later
complained McGregor had given him "a terrible stubble rash."
High finance and bedtime stories might not seem like a natural fit, but when the Weinstein Co. opens Chris Noonan's
Renee Zellweger starrer "Miss Potter" on Dec. 29, it will mark the end of a remarkable 16-year journey to bring the
story of famed children's author Beatrix Potter to the screen -- a trek that has involved financiers as far-flung
as Japan, Los Angeles and the United Kingdom.
To get "Potter" made, even with a relatively modest $24 million-plus budget, the film's producers not only
had to cobble together sales to various worldwide territories but also persuaded the tiny Isle of Man to put up a
remarkable 25% of the budget and enlisted British financing company Grosvenor Park to provide a loan against the
30% of the budget that had not been sold in advance of filming. It was a case of "supergap" financing that is practically
unheard of in today's penny-pinching independent film climate.
Screenwriter Richard Maltby says he never would have imagined that getting a modest film made could be so complicated
back when he initially conceived of the project during the early 1990s, when he was reading Potter's tales about
Peter Rabbit to his young daughter as he tucked her in at night.
Curious to know more about the author, Maltby investigated her background and learned the story of a strong-minded
young woman growing up in a repressive environment in Victorian England, as well as the tragic love affair that deeply
marked her life. That very-adult story intrigued Maltby and later fascinated the producers who became attached to
his screenplay. "(The film) is the story of an oppressed young woman who falls in love, against her family's
wishes, and then has to deal with his tragic death," producer David Kirschner says.
Although Kirschner read the script in its earliest incarnation, he had reservations about the project, which at
that point was conceived as a musical including animated appearances by some of Potter's most-famous characters.
But Maltby's screenplay was optioned by other producers, including Cameron Mackintosh, who had backed Maltby's
1991 Broadway production of "Miss Saigon" and passed the "Potter" script on to British film executive David Aukin.
Aukin in turn gave it to the Henson Co., which imagined the movie as a perfect vehicle for its Muppets and began
to develop the project for Kermit the Frog and friends -- a movie that never got made.
"They suggested a number of changes that I didn't think were a good idea," Maltby says.
Two to three years later, Maltby bought his script back from Henson -- at which point Kirschner pounced, persuading
the writer to keep the animated sequences but drop the songs.
"I called Richard and said: 'I love this project, but I can't do it as a musical. Would you be interested
in doing it (as a straight drama)?'" Kirschner says.
Maltby agreed but declined to sign a contract with Kirschner, insisting instead on a handshake deal. The pair then
set about developing the material alongside Kirschner's producing partner, Corey Sienega, and securing movie
rights to Potter's characters from F. Warne & Co. (though the London-based publisher shrewdly insisted on
retaining all licensing and merchandising rights).
As those discussions proceeded, so did talks with various directors. Bruce Beresford signed on, and Kirschner went
to great lengths to hook another Aussie, Cate Blanchett, to be his star. Having been propelled to stardom by her
Oscar-nominated work in 1998's "Elizabeth," Blanchett was in demand, and Kirschner was determined to woo her.
Looking to illustrate how "Potter" would incorporate animation with live-action sequences in a drama, the producer
hired a firm to animate parts of a scene from "Elizabeth" using computer-generated imagery.
"There is a scene when Elizabeth breaks down," Kirschner says. "She is in an attic with a portrait of her father,
Henry VIII, and for the first time she cries and is angry. What I did was brought in Peter Rabbit; it was totally
incongruous, but we added him with CGI and showed him reacting to her emotions."
When Kirschner presented the reworked scene to Blanchett, he says, "at first, Cate burst into laughter -- and then,
apparently, she was very moved by it, and she said yes (to 'Potter')."
With Beresford and Blanchett confirmed, financing seemed assured -- but still Kirschner was unable to raise the
necessary money. Beresford eventually moved on to another film and, at Blanchett's suggestion, was replaced
by yet another Australian, Noonan, who says he was impressed by Maltby's screenplay. But Noonan began to reconceive
the film's CG animation, arguing in favor of traditional hand-drawn work that would seem more in keeping with
the period piece.
"My initial thought was, 'Let's go the CGI route,' but the further I took it down that path, the
more I realized it was distracting from Beatrix's story," he says. "It isn't the story of her characters;
it is the story of an extraordinary woman plunked into a Victorian environment, a modern woman with modern values
and modern ambitions."
Kirschner affirms that Noonan's choice was based solely on what would be most appropriate for the film, given
that CGI and hand-drawn animation each would cost about 10%-15% of its budget. In the end, the animation -- which
at press time was still being completed -- involved a year of work by the British firm hired to do it.
Even with Noonan aboard, though, "Potter" would suffer another blow when Blanchett dropped out unexpectedly. "This
upstart young director by the name of Martin Scorsese came in and offered her 'The Aviator,'" Kirschner
says with a laugh of that 2004 drama. "She took the chance to play Katharine Hepburn, and my heart was broken."
A decade or more had passed, and "Potter," for all intents and purposes, was dead -- that is, until Kirschner received
an out-of-the-blue phone call from David Thwaites, a British producer and executive working for Mike Medavoy and
Arnie Messer's production and finance company Phoenix Pictures. "David called me and said: 'I love this
and want to do everything I can to make it. Would you want to partner with us? We feel we could pull the financing
together,'" Kirschner says.
Kirschner jumped at the chance, especially given former studio chief Medavoy's hefty Hollywood Rolodex and
Messer's international financing connections. With Blanchett out, the producers approached Zellweger, who met
with Noonan then committed to star and executive-produce. Zellweger in turn helped secure Ewan McGregor, her co-star
in 2003's "Down With Love," to play her lover in "Potter."
"Once Renee came aboard, all of us at Phoenix put our shoulder behind it," Medavoy says. "Once we knew who the actress
and director were, it moved rather rapidly."
Adds Messer: "When we got into it four years ago, there was no financing. We started talking to some foreign buyers:
We got interest in Japan, from Nippon Herald; we got interest from Summit (to handle foreign sales), and then we
brought Grosvenor Park into it. We also got the Isle of Man involved, and the U.K. Film Council."
Japan was the film's first real sale; after that, Phoenix sold U.K. and Spanish rights to Momentum. "The way
these models work is, you have to have good sales estimates, and then you need two or three actual sales that validate
those estimates," Messer says. In the case of "Potter," Nippon Herald and Momentum confirmed to bankers that the
sales model used by Phoenix and Summit was accurate.
The Isle of Man invested 25% of "Potter's" budget in exchange for a good part of the film being shot there
-- and against a share of its North American rights. The U.K.'s sale-and-leaseback tax credit provided another
part of the funding, but Grosvenor Park's participation proved even more critical because that company had the
ability to provide a loan against the previously unfunded part of the film: the gap between the 70% covered by presales
and the remaining 30%.
"Grosvenor Park is a financial company whose main business is monetizing tax credits and co-productions, but they
also have become what is called a supergap lender," Messer says. "Gap is the difference between what sales are made
and what they have to lend; most companies will cover a gap of 20%, but there are a few people, like Grosvenor Park,
that will lend beyond 20% -- perhaps even 30% or 40% (of a film's budget) if it looks like the prospects are
right. They ended up lending 30%."
But even with financing in place, there were other hitches before "Potter" could go into production -- not least
when Zellweger backed out of the picture for personal reasons around the time of her short-lived 2005 marriage to
music star Kenny Chesney.
"At one point, I wasn't going to be able to do it," Zellweger says. "I thought I was going to take some time
Kirschner and Phoenix were left scrambling before Zellweger decided that she would, in fact, make the picture.
"It worked out wonderfully," Zellweger says, noting that the pause "gave time for Ewan to finish another project."
Finally, 16 years after Maltby read his daughter those bedtime stories, "Potter" got under way in April with a 47-day
shoot in England's Lake District, London and the Isle of Man. Two to three weeks into the shoot, the Weinstein
Co. came aboard, beating out several studio specialty divisions to take domestic rights to the film.
The Weinstein brothers enjoyed great success with a similarly themed project in 2004's "Finding Neverland," Marc
Forster's best picture Oscar nominee starring Johnny Depp as "Peter Pan" author J.M. Barrie, and Kirschner is
optimistic that audiences -- and, potentially, Academy voters -- will find as much to appreciate about his literary
"It's a beautiful and heartbreaking love story," he says. "I think they'll love it, too."
Has Woody Allen done the unthinkable and grown tired of London? I gather that the celebrated auteur recently
fell asleep at the bar of a swanky city hostelry. Awakened by concerned crew members, he spluttered: "Don't
worry, don't worry. It's not as bad as it looks." His latest project stars Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor
as cockney brothers who turn to crime.
In the past Allen has eulogised London's "cool grey skies" and he wanted the same effect for his current film
- but the summer heatwave has played havoc with his schedule. The director was even forced to use sea water because
of the hosepipe ban.
Striking Land Rover Spot Delivers one into the Beyond
This is one of those commercials which we, after viewing, usually say something like, "Damn, it took them long enough
to make their point!" But, we're not going to say that about this new Land Rover commercial created by RKCR/Y&R
and voiced by Ewan McGregor. This mini film is so enveloping, so lush, so celebratory, so entrancing, so uplifting,
so motivational, so encouraging, so everything, it doesn't matter what it's selling. However, Land Rover
has chosen to position itself as the enabler in making one's dreams come true, to assist in achieving one's
goals to clearly illustrate there are no barriers that can not be overcome if one casts aside the rule book and follows
OK, yes, it's just a car commercial selling a piece of steel that provides transportation from point A to point
B but there's no reason why that piece of steel can't become the genesis through which one travels beyond
the confines of everyday life and into a place where the mundane trappings of everyday life are irrelevant, superfluous
and pointless. This spot illustrates the power of the open road. Of impulse. Of belief in one's dreamt but rarely
acted upon desires. Land Rover wants us to believe they are the conduit through which these dreams will be realized.
After viewing this commercial, we're kinda sold.
Ewan and Woody do like to be beside Brighton's Seaside
27 July 2006
Making movies is hard work at the best of times, let alone in a heat wave. So the stars of Woody Allen's latest
project must have been relieved to spend a couple of days shooting by the sea. Ewan McGregor joined the legendary
film director on Brighton beach as they filmed scenes for the un-named flick, known only as 'Wasp 06'.
The Scottish heart-throb might have wished he was in his swimming trunks, though, rather than jeans and jacket as
he worked in the sweltering heat. However, according to one security guard a fortune was spent on ice creams to help
counter the temperatures, while some of the crew members were able to enjoy the seaside location's traditional
delights with a ride on the dodgems. Despite the high security surrounding the closely guarded script, atmosphere
on the set was relaxed as 70-year-old Woody turned it into a family affair – bringing along wife Soon-Yi and their
adopted daughter Manzie, six.
The New Yorker's latest muse, rising star Hayley Atwell, also joined the Star Wars actor on location.
The pretty 24-year-old is already known to British audiences after appearing in BBC drama The Line Of Beauty and
this winter will appear alongside Bille Piper in Ruby In The Smoke. But it's her role in Woody's
new project that will locate her firmly on the Hollywood map.
Irish hunk Colin Farrell also features in the movie, said to be based on a pair of down-on-their-luck siblings who
end up bitter rivals as they turn to a life of crime. Based mainly in London, it is Woody's third consecutive
film set in the capital following Matchpoint and Scoop.
Ewan McGregor is simply dashing between takes on the London set of Woody Allen's yet-to-be-titled film on July
25th. The actor stars with Colin Farrell as down on their luck brothers who turn to a life of crime.
May 2, 2006 - While doing press this past weekend for his forthcoming release Just My Luck, producer Arnold
Rifkin, who is partnered with Bruce Willis in the production shingle Cheyenne Enterprises, spoke about his slate
of future projects. He exclusively advised IGN FilmForce that his next film is poised to star Hugh Jackman. Cheyenne
is in negotiations with 20th Century Fox to close a deal for The Tourist, with an anticipated start date in
early fall, anywhere from mid-October to mid-November.
"We close next week Hugh Jackman on a film I bought as a pitch [by Mark Bomback] called The Tourist. It's
one of the sexiest thrillers," Rifkin said. "That's a rough story to tell but essentially it's about a
demented young man who realizes the opportunity – there's nothing in life he won't do to gain what he wants,
including taking people's lives."
"There exists truly in New York what's known as a phone club and you simply call up and say, 'Are you
free tonight?' The other individual on the other side says 'Yes," and they say, 'Fine. Plaza Hotel.
11 o'clock in front of the Blue Boy painting.'"
"It's about A-type people who also need their pleasure. They want their intimacy but their privacy and they
don't want a relationship. And they don't want their lives interfered with (by) the complications of love," Rifkin
continued. "They just want to – I can't say what they're going to do. Surrounding that is two extraordinary
male roles. Obviously the character of Wyatt, who is the antagonist, searches for people who are anonymous to the
world. It was an astounding experiment in research of how many people live a life [with] no relatives. ... Hugh Jackman
fell in love with it. He's playing Wyatt."
Rifkin revealed that Marcel Langenegger will direct The Tourist. "He's Swedish. His reel was extraordinary.
He's a first-time director but he's quite brilliant."
How do the RAF's elite Tornado pilots develop nerves of steel?
Thu 13 Jul 2006
Mention that dreaded Tom Cruise movie to the RAF's emerging generation of front-line pilots, and you're
likely to receive a withering smile. Yet the phrase 'Top Gun' will inevitably be sprinkled liberally about
the headlines as STV's new documentary series, JetSet, takes to the air next Tuesday.
"That's just Hollywood, and a film you watch when you're 14," says Flight Lieutenant Tony Eyles with a
grin, an instructor with 15 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth, where the six-part documentary gives unprecedented insight
into the progress of a group of trainees as they experience the exhilaration and stresses of learning to fly the
Tornado GR4, the RAF's primary strike aircraft.
The Moray coast air station is the RAF's largest and busiest fast-jet base, and also where Eyles, who has flown
Tornadoes on operations over Iraq, supervises aspiring GR4 pilots on the gruelling six-month OCU (Operational Conversion
unit) course which takes them from the Hawk jet trainers they have been flying until then to the formidable state-of-the-art
attack machine that is the Tornado. "With us, they learn to cope with navigation at seven miles a minute, then they
learn how to use it as a weapons platform," says Eyles.
The series is narrated by Ewan McGregor, an actor more associated with the intergalactic dogfights of Obi-Wan
Kenobi than with real-life aerial warfare, but whose brother, Colin, was one of the first RAF pilots to pass the
OCU course at Lossie. Hence the Scots actor's willingness to narrate the series, at a fee somewhat less than
his Hollywood norm. "When I was approached by STV I said yes right away," the actor said. "A few years ago [Colin]
completed the same course, and through him I have some idea as to the level of passion, personal drive and skill
required to do this."
The documentary features its fair share of triumphal soundtrack guitars and slo-mo shots of elegantly banking jets,
but the reality involves a lot of hard graft and some stressful moments for the dozen aspiring pilots and navigators,
all in their mid-to-late twenties. This is the course that can make or break their jet-flying careers.
The pressure to succeed may be immense, but a pilot's first trip in "the big beast", as McGregor calls the
Tornado, is always an event. "You line up on the end of the runway and the heart races," recalls Flight Lieutenant
Frazer Wood from Kirkcudbright, the only Scot among the students. "As soon as you plug in the re-heat - the afterburner,
as it's commonly known - you feel the kick. It puts you into the back of the seat."
Now 27, "Woodsy", as Lieutenant Wood is called (all the airmen sport nicknames, some as unlikely as Judy and Dot),
made his first forays into flying in small, prop-driven Bulldogs with the Glasgow University Air Squadron. His OCU
passage wasn't without its bad moments, though: "All through flying training I've had times when I haven't
done as well as I could have. And that does knock you, because we all strive as hard as we can."
He passed, however, and is now with 13 Squadron, based at RAF Marham near King's Lynn, Norfolk, and is due
to fly out for a tour of duty in Iraq later this year. Just as the OCU at Lossiemouth was the big step from operating
a simulator to flying a £30 million strike aircraft at speeds of up to 550mph on a daily basis, duty in Iraq could
see him undergoing his baptism of fire - both being shot at and also delivering a ferociously destructive package
When it comes to the crunch, how does he feel at the prospect of potentially killing or being killed? "There
are a lot of stages you go through before you press the button and drop a bomb," he replies. "There are a lot of
checks... to guarantee that what you're dropping on is definitely a target. I haven't been out there yet,
but we'll be protecting our armed forces on the ground so, in my eyes, that's a good reason to drop, as
long as it's a legitimate target."
He met his wife Jennifer while still at university. "She's been at my side the whole way, so she knows what
exactly what I've got myself into." And he dismisses any suggestions that his is a particularly glamorous life: "It
involves long days and hard work. You can quite easily be away from home for six months in the year. If people find
that glamorous, well... It does put strains on relationships, but people get through it."
Flight Lieutenant Mark "Stilly" Still, from Bournemouth, expresses similar thoughts: "It's what you've
been training towards for years, and you want to prove you can do it when under pressure. But the other side of it
is, why would I want to put myself at risk? But it's something you have to accept. I don't particularly
want to go and drop bombs on things, but if that's what I'm told to do, I have to do it and I will."
In an aircraft packing a bewildering array of hi-tech navigational and weapons delivery systems, the relationship
between navigator and pilot is, he says, "crucial".
"You're relying on each other. And the pressure is on you twice as much, because not only do you not want to
mess it up for yourself, you don't want to mess it up for your mate in the front."
Low-flying over the Highlands is demanding enough by day, occasionally granting them an opportunity to savour the
spectacular landscape, but night flying is something else, he adds. "Neither of us see anything out the cockpit,
and we've just got this radar. It's a bit butt-clenching," he says with a smile. "It does concentrate the
Still, who has three young children and a fourth on the way, almost didn't get as far as his OCU, following
a car crash which all but split his face in two. "Luckily at the time I was on Tucanos [the RAF's basic trainer
aircraft], and there was a problem with them and they were all taken out of service for four months, just when I
had my car crash. So when I was fit to fly again, I was only two weeks behind the others."
We're chatting at the programme's launch in STV's Glasgow HQ. The fliers, sitting about in their
green flying suits, have a slightly incongruous backdrop of panels featuring the wares of the show's sponsor,
McIntosh, makers of pre-packed traditional favourites such as mince and tatties, haggis and neeps, the advertising
tag being "A fast way to refuel".
Whether you'd want to perform a high-speed turn in a Tornado after filling up with stovies is a moot point
(bring on the anti-G trousers). However, with intense pressure of another kind on the trainees to get through the
OCU, one would have thought that the last thing they'd need would be a fly-in-the-cockpit camera crew following
their progress (and also filming their families). They seem unfazed, however, by imminent small-screen stardom. Wood
says that any trainees who didn't want to be filmed were left in peace. "And for the RAF as a whole, I think
it's been a good thing, because it lets people see exactly what we go through. I know that throughout the UK,
people get annoyed by us flying at low level, and it is noisy. I hope they'll see that we're not just having
a jolly, that we're working hard, and for good reason."
And, no, he laughs, Tom Cruise doesn't come into it. Flight Lieutenants Richard "Rich" Taylor and Scott Cotton
(yes, he's the one known as "Dot") are similarly amused by the Top Gun label. Taylor confesses that he watched
it in his teens, and then admits: "There are times, the odd moment, when you can relax in the cockpit and say, 'This
is actually quite a cool job,' but most times you're actually working bloody hard."
So the ubiquitous Top Gun appellation is, they agree, about as relevant as terminology such as "wizard prang, old
chap" or wearing handlebar moustaches. "Tally ho!" says Cotton, obligingly.
• JetSet starts on STV at 7:30pm on Tuesday 18 July.
Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell were on set – busy working on their latest project in North Kensington, London.
The untitled production is being directed by 70-year-old Woody Allen who has a long-running love affair with the
English capital. Last year's thriller Match Point starring Woody's muse Scarlett Johannson was made
there. But it's Brit newcomer Hayley Atwell who gets to star alongside Ewan and Colin in the screen maestro's
The exploration of space is the greatest endeavour that humankind has ever undertaken.
What does it take to be part of this incredible journey? What does it take to become an astronaut?
Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of an astronaut. Explore the amazing worlds of inner and outer space,
from floating around the International Space Station to manoeuvring through microscopic regions of the human body.
Discover the perils that lurk in space as we subject 'Chad', our test astronaut, to everything that space
has to throw at him.
Presented in stunning high definition 360° Fulldome video and explosive surround sound, Astronaut is an experience
like nothing on Earth.
Ewan narrates the presentation.
The Space Centre is located in Leicester, in the U.K., and also features a Star Wars weekend on 4 & 5 November
Channel 4 has confirmed that its channel FilmFour will begin broadcasting free-to-air on 23 July. The launch will
be supported by Channel 4's biggest marketing campaign to date, with ads directed by the actor Kevin Spacey.
The campaign, created by 4creative in conjunction with RSA Films, breaks on 1 July. The TV ads feature Ewan McGregor,
Dame Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe and Christian Slater, among others. The activity starts with one week of "subliminal" blipverts,
before the TV ads break on 7 July. There are five separate executions showing the stars in comic scenarios. In one
ad, the actress Lucy Lui is shown flying a small plane over London shouting "FilmFour is free". Another shows Dame
Judi and McGregor dressed as a lobster and a tomato [see photo posted on May 26, 2006], standing in Trafalgar
Square handing out "FilmFour is free" leaflets. Polly Cochrane, Channel 4's director of marketing, said: "We
had four possible...