Movie Forum: 50 shades of casting drama
05:00 AM, Mar 25, 2013
Every Wednesday, the Movie Forum convenes to discuss the latest news from the film world and answer questions submitted by you, the reader.
This week, USA TODAY film critic Claudia Puig and movie reporter Bryan Alexander discussed 50 Shades of Grey casting drama (along with potential picks), the steady rise of James Franco (Oz, Spring Breakers in March alone) and whether the Die Hard formula, most recently seen in Olympus Has Fallen, is still relevant. We also tackled readers’ questions about Jack the Giant Slayer, The Devil in the White City and which actors are box office locks (and flops).
John Elliot: Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
AND welcome to the first day of Spring…In NYC, it feels like 32º. Yes…Spring…
I’m John Elliot, online producer for USA TODAY Movies and I will serve as your moderator. Joining me today are two people from the land of eternal Spring, USA TODAY movies reporter Bryan Alexander and film critic Claudia Puig
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week? 50 Shades casting, Franco-mentum and the relevance of the Die Hard formula!
Remember: you can submit questions right here and now and we will tackle them later in the chat.
So let’s get started!
Bryan Alexander: By the way John, you don’t notice its spring in a darkened movie house
John Elliot: true, true
Casting DRAMA this week! Hacking collective Anonymous accessed the servers of a German film studio and released documents purporting to show that Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, was attached to star in the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey.
It turned out to be false with the actress, the studio and even the author E.L. James denying the report. But perhaps none as vehemently as Watson, who took to twitter to write:
“Who here actually thinks I would do 50 Shades of Grey as a movie? Like really. For real. In real life. Good. Well that’s sorted then.”
SO… two questions 1) In this brave, new-ish digital world we live in, where the smallest news about a film is turned into a highly produced event…should we expect more of these false casting kerfuffles?
And 2) Why do you think Watson was so offended by reports that she had been cast in 50 Shades?
(Does she simply not want to be typecast as an actress who will only do book adaptations?)
Claudia Puig: Is your first question rhetorical, John? I think Watson is working not to be typecast as an innocent ingenue pretty effectively already—Perks of Being a Wallflower and the upcoming Bling Ring. Though Perks is a literary adaptation. In terms of her being offended, I htink she prefers to think that she chooses material that’s smart and not just trashy pop novels.l The author favors Shailene Woodley, who is an awfully good actress.
Bryan Alexander: Am I the only one that thought her tweet left the door open? Like she was kind of teasing! “Well that’s sorted then.” And she was perhaps teasing about the whole thing. I’m going to watch this space.
And Watson, like every other actress wants to be considered for this
It’s like you’re no one in Hollywood unless you are considered for this part.
Claudia Puig: I can see your reading of that Bryan, but I think she was trying to rise above it.
Bryan Alexander: Rise above the biggest part in Hollywood right now?
People would kill for this part
Comment from Scott:
I assumed she didn’t want to be associated with the sexual/bondage role.
Claudia Puig: That’s arguable. I don’t think it’s the biggest part in Hollywood. And you have to think of the source material. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good
Yeah, i would agree with our reader Scott
Bryan Alexander: Perhaps, but who is saying this is going to be bad. I think there’s kind of a snobbery about this movie that makes it seem like it’s not going to be a great movie, or at least interesting.
Claudia Puig: If they wouldn’t kill, they would at least tie someone up for the part
Bryan Alexander: And this is the kind of part that can turn someone’s career around and reputation around. Who would think of Harry Potter after seeing Emma Watson in this steamy movie?
It would help with the typecasting problem for sure
Unless Daniel Radcliffe took the Christian part…
Claudia Puig: Well, there is the Hollywood adage that bad books make good movies. Remember Bridges of Madison County. But I think it has a good chance of being a bad movie
Bryan Alexander: Sure you book-ish people. Put Meryl Streep in it and all of a sudden a movie about bridges is a classic.
Claudia Puig: I think Sirius Black should take the Christian role. Gary Oldman, are you out there?
Bryan Alexander: Gary Oldman? Seriously
Who are top in the running for character of Christian?
Bryan Alexander: The guy has to be buff
Claudia Puig: I’ve heard Jake Gyllenhaal, Matt Bomer, Ryan Gosling—buff enough for you, Bryan?
Bryan Alexander: Gosling. Fer sure.
Did you know how to spell Jake off the top of your head?
Him not so much for me in this part
Claudia Puig: I seriously hope he doesn’t stoop to it. Especially after seeing him in Place Beyond the Pines. Best movie of the year so far. Out next week. Don’t miss it!
Bryan Alexander: Stop with the Stooping
I’m looking forward to this movie
Claudia Puig: OK, that makes one of us
Bryan Alexander: Get off the Shades hate wagon Claudia
Claudia Puig: OK but have you actually read it Bryan?
Bryan Alexander: Not yet. I have the “i’m a guy” excuse
I’m not the target audience.
Claudia Puig: handy
Who’s the guy from Suits I’ve heard is in the running?
Bryan Alexander: I think anyone who is young, hot, hot in Hollywood, has a dark gleam in their eyes and looks good in a suit is in the running.
Claudia Puig: Do you mean Gabriel Macht?
That’s pretty much everybody in Hollywood, Bryan
Bryan Alexander: At least their agents are furiously trying to get their name out there
That’s not true
Claudia Puig: I vote for James Franco. Like Hansel, he’s so hot right now
Bryan Alexander: Really? Franco?
Comment from Pam:
If he’s the older lawyer love him but think he’s too old for Christian
Claudia Puig: He’s on the list. He cleans up good
I agree Pam. Macht is too old probably.
John Elliot: Speaking of Franco…
March is turning out to be a very James Franco-centric month! Oz had another good weekend, winning the box office with $41.3M and bringing its total gross up to $144.1M. Additionally, the highly anticipated (and perhaps notorious) Spring Breakers opened this past weekend and features Franco in a role for which he is receiving some critical acclaim.
Is Franco having a moment? Or is this just a matter of good timing?
Bryan Alexander: For sure. I thought Franco was not my favorite part of Oz, but the movie is a big, big hit and he’s riding the wave on that.
Big stakes in that part. But they have paid off. Me, I would have preferred Downey, who was originally cast for the part.
Claudia Puig: He’s making up for the Oscars 2 years ago. But it could just be good timing. That guy is pretty amazing though. Doesn’t he have like more advanced degrees than anyonne in the biz?
I agree about Downey. Would have made the movie much better!
Bryan Alexander: I agree. Franco got it. And he’s the better for it.
Claudia Puig: But Franco was the best thing, hands down, about Spring Breakers
Comment from Scott:
I think Mila Kunis is the star of Oz. Franco was a role that could have been filled by many actors. Not saying he was bad at all, but not an attraction. People are not going to see Oz because James Franco is in it…
Bryan Alexander: I agree with you. From that first golden tooth smile Franco stole Spring Breakers
Claudia Puig: I think Rachel Weisz outshone Mila Kunis
John Elliot: What’s next for renaissance man James Franco?
Claudia Puig: He’s directing movies too, he made two films at Sundance—one a remake of Cruising.
Bryan Alexander: The big thing is that he’s breaking out of the Oscar fiasco and then that stoner movie he did right after. What was that?
What WAS THAT!!!
Claudia Puig:Your Highness Too
He can make Your Highness Pineapple Express 2
Bryan Alexander: it’s like a bad dream. Did that really happen. Did he really wear a dress on the Oscars?
Claudia Puig: Well, it seems to have paid off for him and Hathaway…
John Elliot:Olympus Has Fallen opens this weekend and is just the latest film to follow the original Die Hard formula: One man trapped in one location vs. a whole bunch of terrorists.
In the post-9/11, post-cyber-terrorism, post-its-been-20-years-since-the-original-came-out, post-EVERYTHING world…is this tried and true model, which was so brilliantly executed by the original Die Hard, still relevant with audiences today?
(full disclosure: I will watch the original Die Hard to completion whenever it is on television)
Claudia Puig: I loved the original Die Hard too John
But not the 40 remakes
I don’t think that model works as they say “in a post 911 world” ….at least not in Olympus Has Fallen. One man saving the world….And Gerard Butler seems to be new Bruce Willis.
Bryan Alexander: Bruce just felt a disturbance in the force with that statement
Not EVEN close
Claudia Puig: I won’t argue with you on that one. Though Gerard is infinitely better looking
Bryan Alexander: Really, I don’t understand you
Claudia Puig: is it because you’re a guy?
Bryan Alexander: Bruce has the rogue—ish good looks going
And he had hair in the first one
Claudia Puig: Maybe 20 years ago—
Bryan Alexander: I mean the guy is 57 or so right now
Okay, let’s see how Butler look at that age
And then picture him in a kilt and seeing the legs.
Claudia Puig: He’s got the Scottish charm….though I’m not a fan of him in this movie or the last 5 he’s made.
Picturing Willis in a kilt….oy
John Elliot: If the Die Hard formula is done, what is the new model?
Bryan Alexander: I don’t think there is a new model. We just saw Die Hard 5 and there was the same thing. In Russia. Things blew up
Claudia Puig:End of Watch—a greatly under-appreciated movie. Not about terrorists, but gritty and riveting
Bryan Alexander: Who saw that?
Jake’s mom? Jake?
Claudia Puig: that’s why I’m plugging it….And try spelling Jake’s last name!!
Bryan Alexander: Notice lack of last name
Bryan Alexander: Ha! Busted
Claudia Puig: And End of Watch also had Michael Pena—who’s always great!
Bryan Alexander: Okay and a much easier last name.
But we just Expendables 2, which made a lot of money. And that’s basically the same stars and the same concepts. Ridiculous men, kicking butt, explosions, they save the day
Have you ever notice it’s the disgraced body guards who always save the day?
If I was a terrorist I would take out the “disgraced” guys first
Claudia Puig: Always disgraced body guards..didn’t Clint start that?
Bryan Alexander: Yes, in Line of Fire. They always come back to haunt you
Comment from Laurie:
End of Watch was so realistic it hurt!
Bryan Alexander: Wax on Claudia
Claudia Puig: And the terrorists ALWAYS look like models. what’s with that? Bin Laden anyone?
Agreed on End of Watch. So amazing.
Bryan Alexander: It was a pretty great movie. But the found footage thing. Stop it! You’re being shot at. Put the camera down
You’re dying. Put the camera down
Claudia Puig: But somehow it all came together…best police movie I can remember in a while
John Elliot: Alright! Let’s move on to questions from our lovely readers!
Personally, I recommend Jack the Giant Slayer for those who haven’t seen it yet. It’s a whole lotta fun, and its content is suitable for all ages-even though the film is PG-13. If you liked the first two X-Men films, come see it because it has the same director. If you liked Warm Bodies, come see it because it has the same lead role. If you liked the fairy tale adaptation of Snow White and the Huntsman but could do without the darkness, this film is that in a nutshell. The verdict: the film is awesome and I totally recommend it. By the way, what’s your opinion on the movie, guys?
Bryan Alexander: Hard to argue with Nicholas Hoult. He’s the full package. He acts, he smolders, he’s not hard on the eyes. And he was the kid in About a Boy. Love!
Claudia Puig: Didn’t love Jack the Giant Slayer as much as the reader, but I thought it had its moments. Like you Bryan, I do like Nicholas Hoult (there’s a u there–since we’re talking spelling today—brought to you by the letter U!) and thought some of the effect were quite good. LOVE About a Boy!!
Bryan Alexander: Stop looking things up
I spelled it right? Thanks to the magic of live editing
Claudia Puig:About a Boy, for those who haven’t seen it….check it out! One of my favorite films ever. And book by Nick Hornby was amazing too
Mila Kunis seems to have the golden touch lately on hit movies. Who else do you guys see as locks in casting for a successful movie?
Bryan Alexander: I don’t know about her box office gravitas. I think she’s great, a great actress and beautiful. So beautiful. But I don’t know if people are going to see these movies to see Mila Kunis. Right now it’s that she’s taking excellent projects. Ted, Oz, Black Swan before that.
Claudia Puig: That’s a tough one, because almost everyone has made a bad movie. And I agree Mila is usually really good, but as a name she may not have the box office weight.
But taking good projects is an art. Look at Halle Berry. Also beautiful and very talented. But she seems to have the opposite of the Midas touch in that regard
Bryan Alexander: What do you mean? The Call did really well this weekend!
I did not think it was going to do anything. America responded. Loved it.
Claudia Puig: True, but before that she’d made a string of bad and unsucessful movies
Bryan Alexander: But maybe this wasn’t the Wednesday after to bring that up
Claudia Puig: Put Little Miss Sunshine in peril and America comes running
Bryan Alexander: Because she performed well at the box office this weekend.
Claudia Puig: True, ok, there are other examples….how about Angelina Jolie?
Bryan Alexander: You cannot just throw her in the slump column because of the Tourist, Changeling was not a flop. Not huge. It’s a tie, not a loss.
Laurie from Orlando says:
People go to see Ryan Gosling. That horrible gangster was a medium fair hit just because of him.
Claudia Puig: I agree with Laurie!! Ryan is someone people line up to see. Especially women, but I think guys too. So true about Gangster Squad
Bryan Alexander: Guys like him too.
I agree. He’s a draw.
Claudia Puig: He’s a man’s man and a woman’s man…like Clooney or Depp
Bryan Alexander: But mostly because they are dragged by girlfriends.
And he makes you want to do sit ups in the movie seat.
Claudia Puig: He’s such an amazing actor. He needs an Oscar soon. Should have gotten it for half nelson
My wife will see anything with Matthew McConaughey
Claudia Puig: I would have debated that, but lately, I agree. He’s become a much better actor. More than just a pretty set of abs
Bryan Alexander: He’s doing all the indie movies, and they are suiting him well
Claudia Puig: Indeed. MM had a killer year last year
Laurie from Orlando says:
People are more discriminating than you think. Put the two most popular stars together in a bad movie and no one will go. How about that thing with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Can’t even remember the name of it.
Bryan Alexander:Cloud Atlas
Claudia Puig: It has a lot of other good actors too—Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon…
Bryan Alexander: That was a bit of a train wreck. It went from Oscar contender to disappeared in the quickest time ever. I don’t it even got nominated for anything.
Claudia Puig: Hugh Grant. But Laurie makes a good point. And it was a Wachowski film….Matrix makers weren’t even a draw
Bryan Alexander: But you couldn’t even tell it was Tom Hanks and Halle Berry for the most part. They each played five different characters
Claudia Puig: I didn’t think it was completely awful, it had its moments.
Bryan Alexander: And Hanks worst role in that film was the one most out there. That Mad Max goes to Cajun country role.
Claudia Puig: The segment with Halle and Tom in San Francisco was pretty good. And you could tell it was them!
Bryan Alexander: That kid ruined the San Francisco part.
Worst child performance of the year.
Claudia Puig: Hanks is a good case in point, though. He’s had a string of forgettable movies lately. Yet he’s still a huge star. He’s like Teflon
How about the other end, Adam Sandler, Steve Carrell, Seth Rogan, floundering in recent movies…
Claudia Puig: Well Sandler is usually floundering…
Bryan Alexander: Thank you
But somehow people used to go to those movies
Claudia Puig: But Carrell and Seth Rogen have been on a non-roll for sure
Bryan Alexander: Feel bad for Carell in Burt Wonderstone. It really tanked at the box office. But he’s going to have a great year this year.
Claudia Puig: Carrell was good in one movie this past year—Seeking a Friend at the End of the World. He was great in that. Nobody saw it alas
Bryan Alexander: He’s got Foxcatcher coming out which is getting a lot of buzz.
It’s a very dark drama and he plays millionaire Du Pont
And he’s got The Way, Way Back which was a Sundance hit. And that comes out this summer.
Claudia Puig:The Way, Way Back was great! Comes out in June. Carrell is quite good
Bryan Alexander: And on then on the comedy side, he is Brick in Anchorman 2. Which is just starting to shoot in Atlanta.
Claudia Puig: Brick went to go work for the Bush Admin…wonder where he went after that?
Bryan Alexander: Is that how it ended? That’s funny. I think he’s back in the news business in this.
So he’ll be fine. But it does say something about his ability to open a broad comedy.
James Cappellano from Hartford, CT asks:
Do you know of any plans of Erik Larson’s book The Devil in the White City to be made into a movie?
Bryan Alexander: I haven’t heard anything about this amazing book in a while
Claudia Puig: Nor I. But rumors of Di Caprio for it….THAT would be a must-see movie
Bryan Alexander: There were all sorts of rumors a few years back. And it’s made for Hollywood. A great looking seriel killer
I always felt Brad Pitt would have been great for the part.
But it might be too late for that.
Claudia Puig: Pitt needs a good movie
Bryan Alexander: He’s got World War Z coming out.
John Elliot: Unfortunately, it’s time for us to wrap up
Thank you Claudia and Bryan! And a VERY big thank you to all our readers who participated and submitted questions.
Claudia Puig: Thanks for this lively discussion, readers! Read on….watch on!
Bryan Alexander: Thank you!
John Elliot: Remember: you can submit your burning movie questions all week long, right here.
Thank you all for joining us for the USA TODAY Movie Forum! Please join us again next Wednesday at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST for another edition of Movie Forum.