Robert Downey Jr. sang the praises of his Oppenheimer director, Christopher Nolan, during a heartfelt speech at Sundance. The 2024 Sundance Film Festival kicked off on January 18 and continues through January 28.
As reported by IndieWire, Downey Jr. celebrated Nolan “as independent a voice as ever existed in cinema while telling stories that remind us of the interdependency of the human experience.” Downey Jr. presented Nolan with the first-ever Trailblazer Award at the 40th Sundance Film Festival on Thursday.
Nolan's second film, Memento, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Now the man behind The Dark Knight trilogy and Oppenheimer downplays the title “independent filmmaker.” Nolan said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been an independent filmmaker. Painters can be independent. Poets can be independent… the very notion of complete independence starts to wither away.”
Nolan continued, “It’s the audience. It’s the two weeks or so in which independent filmmaking doesn’t just mean a business model. It means aspirations for filmmakers, directors, writers, actors. You’re treated as artists, you’re given authorship in what you’ve done, and it tells you what you’re supposed to be doing, what your real purpose is.”
New Action Star June Squibb, 94, Plays a Grandmother Fed Up With Phone Scammers in Sundance Film ‘Thelma’
Step aside, Charlize Theron… actress June Squibb, 94, transforms into an action star in the Sundance film Thelma. Squibb's role as Thelma Post also marks the Oscar nominee's debut as a leading lady.
Thelma director-writer Josh Margolin wrote the script inspired by his grandmother. In the movie, Thelma Post becomes the victim of a phone scammer and sends thousands of dollars in the mail to free her allegedly jailed grandson. After realizing she has been duped, Thelma rallies friends and family members to help her track down the crook and get her money back.
Entertainment Weekly asked Squibb if she's a fan of the action genre. “I've seen a lot of action,” said Squibb. “I have a son and he was both a sci-fi and an action film fan from a very young age, so I think I saw probably most of them that came out. [Laughs] I felt well-versed in that genre. I really did.”
In Thelma, Squibb gets in on the action, including a scooter chase. “Well, I loved the idea of the stunts! I was eager to do my own stunts,” said Squibb. “I drove with a scooter, and the stunt man said I was able to stop it better than his stunt people did. I could stop on a dime by the time I got through with that thing.”
Thelma premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, currently ongoing in Park City, Utah.
Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler Team Up for Their Fifth Movie Collaboration
Michael B. Jordan and director-writer Ryan Coogler will team up for the fifth time in Coogler's next movie. Jordan previously starred in all four movies that Coogler directed: Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new collaboration between Jordan and Coogler is shrouded under a “veil of secrecy.” The trade publications reports, “The project is being described as a ‘genre' feature. That, however, is a wide-ranging term that encompasses horror and its subsets, as well as thriller, science fiction, even fantasy. Two sources have said there is a period element to the story. Coogler’s camp had no comment.”
Jordan starred in and directed 2023's Creed III and is reportedly working on a fourth installment of the Rocky spin-off series.
Fired ‘Scream’ Actress Melissa Barrera Says She and Her Former Costars Are ‘Family for Life’
Melissa Barrera — who played Sam Carpenter in 2022's Scream and Scream VI — reunited with her former Scream costars over the Emmys weekend before getting interviewed at Sundance about the impromptu reunion. Barrera got fired from Scream VII after posting controversial pro-Palestinian statements on social media.
Barrera was at the Sundance Film Festival to support her new horror movie Your Monster directed by Caroline Lindy. Deadline spoke with Barrera, who seemed to have no ill will toward the Scream franchise or her former costars. “I’m just so grateful on what I got to infuse in the franchise, and that’s something I’ll be proud of forever,” said Barrera.
About her former costars — including the movies' “Core Four” survivors, Barrera said, “We’re family for life. If we’re ever in the vicinity of each other, we always find each other and that’s what happened at [the Emmys]. When we find each other, we just want to spend the night with each other, and nothing is ever going to change that.”
After Sundance, we'll see if another distributor will overlook Barrera's pro-Palestine comments and snap up Your Monster.
‘The Terminal List’ Prequel Series Starring Chris Pratt Gets Title
The Terminal List: Dark Wolf is the new title for The Terminal prequel series on Prime Video. The action-thriller series based on Jack Carr's 2018 novel of the same name stars Chris Pratt as U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander James Reece and Taylor Kitsch as CIA Ground Branch operative Ben Edwards. Dark Wolf serves as an origin story of the Ben Edwards character.
Deadline reports that The Terminal List: Dark Wolf “is an elevated espionage thriller that takes viewers on Edwards’ journey from Navy SEAL to CIA paramilitary operator, exploring the darker side of warfare and the human cost that comes with it.” The series — green-lighted last February — now has an official title and will begin production early this year.
Besides Pratt‘s Reece and Kitsch's Edwards, other characters reportedly returning for the prequel series include Raife Hastings, Mohammed Farooq, and Ernest “Boozer” Vickers.
Sony Pictures Classics Acquires ‘Kneecap' Biopic in First Significant Sundance Sale
In the first major purchase of Sundance 2024, Sony Pictures Classics has acquired Kneecap. The comedy-biopic about the Northern Ireland hip-hop trio stars Michael Fassbender.
Variety reports, “The film, the debut feature of director Rich Peppiatt and the first Irish-language feature to play Sundance, premiered on Thursday night at the Prospector Square Theater to critical acclaim, after which the band played a set at the after-party at the Cabin on Main Street. The three-piece also brought along a Northern Irish police van for a stunt ahead of the first screening (in 2022, they unveiled a controversial mural of a police van on fire in Ireland).”
Kneecap is described as “a true-life fable about man’s intrinsic urge for identity, the allure of drugs, and a passion for life” and a “thrilling ride pulsating with hip-hop beats.”
The guys in Kneecap — Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap, and DJ Próvaí — started releasing music in 2017 and are known for songs such as “Get Your Brits Out” and “C.E.A.R.T.A.”
Gabriel LaBelle To Play Lorne Michaels in ‘SNL 1975'
The Fabelmans actor Gabriel LaBelle will play Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels in SNL 1975. Jason Reitman will direct the movie based on real behind-the-scenes accounts of Saturday Night Live‘s premiere. Reitman also wrote the script with Gil Kenan.
As reported by Deadline, “On October 11th, 1975, a ferocious troupe of young comedians and writers changed television forever. This is the true story of what happened that night behind the scenes in the moments leading up to the first broadcast of SNL. The chaos and magic of a revolution that almost wasn’t, as we countdown the minutes in real time to the infamous words, Live From New York, it’s Saturday Night. The screenplay is based on an extensive series of interviews conducted by Reitman and Kenan with all the living cast, writers, and crew.”
SNL 1975 is LaBelle's first major role since playing the lead in Steven Spielberg‘s semiautobiographical movie The Fabelmans.
Dakota Johnson Liked That ‘Madame Web' Is ‘Grounded in Reality'
Dakota Johnson plays clairvoyant paramedic Cassandra Webb in Madame Web, directed by S.J. Clarkson. Madame Web represents the fourth film in Sony's Spider-Man Universe (SSU).
The official Madame Web description reads: “In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the stand-alone origin story of one of Marvel publishing's most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who may have clairvoyant abilities. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women destined for powerful futures… if they can all survive a deadly present.”
When describing her character to Entertainment Weekly, Johnson said, “It was really important to me that she’s really human and grounded in reality, and that her life feels like, ‘Oh, I can relate to that.' Sometimes it’s hard to relate to someone shooting lasers out of their eyes. I mean, not for me… I obviously do that all the time.”
In an interview with EW in January, Johnson said, “I got to do a day of stunt driving work, and I’m really good at it, it seems! I mean, I can do some really wild things with a car. I drove an ambulance. I drove a taxicab. I drove everything in the movie — except for flying through the air and out of a building. But other than that, I’m like, ‘Watch out, Tom Cruise.’”
Madame Web spins into theaters on February 14, 2024.
A Grand Jury Indicted Alec Baldwin for Involuntary Manslaughter of ‘Rust' Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins
A grand jury indicted Alec Baldwin on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust. The indictment revives a dormant case against the star of Married to the Mob and Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
The Associated Press reports, “Baldwin, the lead actor and a coproducer on the Western movie Rust, was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on a movie set outside Santa Fe in October 2021 when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.” Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Baldwin earlier last year but never ruled out refiling claims if new evidence surfaced.
As reported by the Associated Press, “The analysis led by Lucien Haag of Forensic Science Services in Arizona stated that although Baldwin repeatedly denied pulling the trigger, ‘given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.'” Baldwin previously said that he pulled back the hammer — not the trigger — and the gun fired.
The filming of Rust resumed in 2023 under the condition that the late Halyna Hutchins' husband, Matthew Hutchins, received an executive producer title.
“We look forward to our day in court,” said Baldwin’s lawyers Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro from Quinn Emanuel to Deadline.
Jesse Eisenberg's Advice to New Lex Luthor Nicholas Hoult From Sundance: ‘Don't Watch Me!'
Jesse Eisenberg's advice to Nicholas Hoult about playing Lex Luthor was succinct: “Don't watch me!” Eisenberg played Superman's archnemesis in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. Hoult will play Lex Luthor in Superman: Legacy.
During an interview at the Variety Studio presented by Audible at the Sundance Film Festival, Eisenberg encouraged Hoult to walk his own path. “Whenever you play a role you feel connected to it,” said Eisenberg about his short stint in the DCEU. “There’s no way around it. Anytime you do anything, even if it’s a movie that’s a Hollywood kind of thing, you connect.”
Eisenberg is at Sundance to promote two movies: Sasquatch Sunset and A Real Pain. In the latter film — which he directs and stars in alongside Kieran Culkin — the actors play cousins who travel to Poland following their grandmother's death to discover their roots. A Real Pain seeks distribution following the Sundance Film Festival.
Kaley Cuoco and ‘The Flight Attendant' Grounded After Two Seasons on Max
Please remain in your seats — The Flight Attendant starring Kaley Cuoco will not return for a third season on Max. The dark comedy-drama-mystery-thriller based on the book of the same name by Chris Bohjalian debuted in 2020 and aired its final episode on May 26, 2022.
After the second season ended, Deadline reports that Cuoco said that the “plane had landed.” Cuoco — who stars in and executive produces the show — told People at the time, “I just kind of feel like we just ended.”
In a statement, Cuoco said, “What started out as an attention-grabbing book cover quickly evolved into an extraordinary flight of a lifetime. I always envisioned TFA as a limited series and thanks to an incredible creative team, we were able to deliver two thrilling seasons. Personally, playing Cassie has been a dream come true and I am so grateful for everyone who played a part in bringing this extremely original series to life.”