EXCLUSIVE: MGM, Paramount and Timur Bekmambetov set a February 26, 2016, release date on an epic remake of Ben-Hur; have they found their chariot driver inTom Hiddleston? I hear that he’s the one the studios are courting to play Judah Ben-Hur in the adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, which was the biggest-selling novel of its time until it was eclipsed by Gone With The Wind.
Hiddleston isn’t being fitted for a toga just yet. He has other projects vying for his services, including the MGM pic Me Before You. Keith Clarke, who scripted the Peter Weir-directed The Way Back, wrote the script that MGM pounced on after that company got ambitious following its emergence from bankruptcy and huge hits in Skyfall and The Hobbit. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey joined Sean Daniel and Joni Levin as producers, with Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing. Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave scribe John Ridley wrote the last draft.
Guillermo del Toro pumped up the Hall H crowd with a first look at Crimson Peak.
"It’s a gothic romance," he said, adding that Legendary allowed him to make it the way he wanted: R-rated, violent, and beautiful.
Del Toro then showed the very first look at the film, still 18 months away from release. The creepy footage showed stars Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam slinking around an old Victorian mansion.
"Houses as old as this one, become in time, a living thing," star Tom Hiddleston said in voiceover. “It may have timber for bones but windows for eyes, and sitting here all alone, it can go slowly bad. It starts holding on to things. Keeping them alive when they shouldn’t be. Some of them good. Some bad. Some should never be spoken about again.
The cast was not present, but Del Toro promised he’d come back in 2015 and bring his stars with him.
According to “Joss Whedon: The Biography,” in stores August 1, Hiddleston, who plays antihero Loki in the film, wrote Whedon a heartfelt email after reading Whedon’s draft for the first time.
We’ve published Hiddleston’s letter in full along with Whedon’s response with permission from Chicago Review Press below.
I am so excited I can hardly speak.
The first time I read it I grabbed at it like Charlie Bucket snatching for a golden ticket somewhere behind the chocolate in the wrapper of a Wonka Bar. I didn’t know where to start. Like a classic actor I jumped in looking for LOKI on every page, jumping back and forth, reading words in no particular order, utterances imprinting themselves like flash-cuts of newspaper headlines in my mind: “real menace”; “field of obeisance”; “discontented, nothing is enough”; “his smile is nothing but a glimpse of his skull“; “Puny god” …
… Thank you for writing me my Hans Gruber. But a Hans Gruber with super-magic powers. As played by James Mason … It’s high operatic villainy alongside detached throwaway tongue-in-cheek; plus the “real menace” and his closely guarded suitcase of pain. It’s grand and epic and majestic and poetic and lyrical and wicked and rich and badass and might possibly be the most gloriously fun part I’ve ever stared down the barrel of playing. It is just so juicy.
I love how throughout you continue to put Loki on some kind of pedestal of regal magnificence and then consistently tear him down. He gets battered, punched, blasted, side-swiped, roared at, sent tumbling on his back, and every time he gets back up smiling, wickedly, never for a second losing his eloquence, style, wit, self-aggrandisement or grandeur, and you never send him up or deny him his real intelligence…. That he loves to make an entrance; that he has a taste for the grand gesture, the big speech, the spectacle. I might be biased, but I do feel as though you have written me the coolest part.
… But really I’m just sending you a transatlantic shout-out and fist-bump, things that traditionally British actors probably don’t do. It’s epic.
Whedon wrote back with a simplistic response:
Tom, this is one of those emails you keep forever. Thanks so much. It’s more articulate (and possibly longer) than the script. I couldn’t be more pleased at your reaction, but I’ll also tell you I’m still working on it … Thank you again. I’m so glad you’re pleased. Absurd fun to ensue.
Can you talk about the cast? Were these people the first choices?
DEL TORO: It’s pretty public that Benedict [Cumberbatch] was there. He came out. Then when I sent the screenplay to Jessica, I didn’t send it with any part in mind, but everyone was assuming she was going to read Edith. And then she read the part and said she wanted to play Lucille, which is the antagonist. I thought, smart girl! It’s a surprise. And then Emma [Stone] was in, Emma was out. Then Mia was the first choice after Emma. It’s been a blessing man. It’s like going out to take a spin on a Porsche.
Tom came within 72 hours of Benedict leaving. Benedict called me, Tom was my next choice, and we handed him the screenplay. I think he read it overnight, at least it felt like that for me. I had just sent it and he called back to say all the right things about the script. I needed people that could embrace the very perverse nature and the very humane. It’s a very dark but at the same time very human movie. It’s really beautiful but it’s full of really disturbing stuff. Charlie was on from the beginning, from Pacific Rim, I told him.
How is it for you when people drop out of a film? Is it jarring to reassess that character with another person in that role?
DEL TORO: Yes, of course. You need to recalibrate. But if you recalibrate and you say this is my first choice next, then it’s great. The transition was so smooth. If we had gone six months without somebody … but it was literally within hours of somebody falling out, somebody else had read it that we wanted. It was really, really great. But then you have to rewrite for the actors. And what we did is we have a very … once I gave them the biographies, we had a table work session where we read the screenplay, talked about the biography, listen to him read the part, come back, rewrite, send it back, get their voice in, and you rewrite it for them. We all went to London to see Tom in his play and then work in London with him and Jessica, to rehearse and work on what we had learned from the biographies.
How early did the cast get here before production began to do any rehearsals?
DEL TORO: Again, Charlie was the first one. He went in, and then Mia came, and then Jim, and the last two were Jessica and Tom because Jessica was shooting in New York and Tom was finishing the play in London. Mia and Charlie are playing American characters. The only American is playing an Englishman.
Tom Hiddleston has this fan base that’s very active, a little younger, female. How are they going to react to his character?
DEL TORO: I think they will like him no matter what he does. (Laughs) My daughters could see him grinding poppies, they’d be like, ‘Ohhh, he’s so sweet! He grinds them so carefully.’ My daughters are first in line. He goes by them, they go, ‘Awww.’ There is the thing they said more than any other. (Laughs)
Did they say to you, ‘He would be good?’ Or was it you saying to them at the dinner table.
DEL TORO: No, no, no. My daughters are a vital part of the way I function with the world. Without them, I wouldn’t have discovered Adventure Time, for example, which is vital for me. When I said Mia, they went, ‘Yes! Absolutely!’ Or when I said, Tom, they went, [snaps] ‘In!’ They’re completely connected to the world in a way that they keep my playlist younger. It’s not just Barry Manilow anymore. I gotta get a little hipper. (Laughs) It is now Phil Collins, and the music the young ones like. They keep me connected to the world.
The full set visit and more 1:1 interviews are still to come (I expect many a jealous fangirl email once I describe the circumstances of my Tom Hiddleston interview… I’ll just say he has the nicest-smelling trailer I’ve ever been in), but I have permission to share this chat well in advance of the embargo lift on the whole enchilada.
The latest instalment of Jaguar’s “Good to be Bad” ad campaign, starring Tom Hiddleston, has been banned for encouraging irresponsible driving.
The campaign, which started with a big-budget US Super Bowl TV ad using the strapline “It’s good to be bad”, features Hiddleston, Ben Kingsley and Mark Strong.
The latest YouTube ad, which promoted the F-Type coupe, was titled “The Art of Villainy” and explored why British actors play the best villains.
It featured Hiddleston discussing what makes a great villain and revving the car in an underground car park before driving off at speed and quoting Shakespeare’s Richard II.
The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint that the YouTube ad encouraged unsafe driving and was therefore socially irresponsible.
Jaguar Land Rover said that the Hiddleston ad was set almost entirely in the car park and that “during this time the car barely moved”.
When the car did leave the car park, it was shown travelling at “normal road speeds”, and “accelerated briefly”, and that police were present at the filming to confirm the speed limit was not breached.
The ASA agreed that the “primary focus” of the ad was not speed.
The watchdog said that the noise of acceleration and speed with which the car left the basement “appeared to suggest significant speed within an enclosed environment”.
This was not helped by Hiddleston saying “now brace yourselves” as the car accelerated through the streets and out of a tunnel leaving other vehicles in its wake.
“We considered that the second part of the ad suggested that the car was being driven at excessive speeds and that the ad therefore encouraged irresponsible driving,” the ASA ruled. “We told Jaguar Land Rover not to portray speed of driving behaviour that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly in future.”
Del Toro most recently wrapped filming on his next film, Crimson Peak. The pic has been described as a classical gothic romance ghost story and stars Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Mia Wasikowska. Del Toro has normally kept to more colorful stories for his English-language pics and tackled heavier subject matter in Spanish, so Crimson Peak marks a significant “first” for the filmmaker:
“It’s the first time I tackle, on film, an adult subject in a way that is not based on a property or comic book/animation type of arena. Mimic was such a shocking experience that I made a decision back then in 1997 to do the sort of more auteristic, harder-to-pin movies in Spanish and do the big pop spectacles in English. It was finding a home at Legendary and being supported by Universal—Donna Langley was a big champion of Crimson Peak—that gave me the courage to try to bring those sort of adult tools to an English-language studio film. It is, by comparison with Hellboy or Pacific Rim, Crimson is a smaller movie, but it’s very, very personal. So it’s something I haven’t tried before and I’m very proud of it and happy.”
While he’s set to head into pre-production on Pacific Rim 2 next month, del Toro says Crimson Peak is already in fine shape despite the fact that it doesn’t open until October 2015:
“I just finished my director’s cut, which is very, very quick six weeks after wrapping because I basically cut while I shoot. I’m very close to the final cut. I’m doing a temp mix at Skywalker Sound to show the movie from beginning to end to the studio, Universal and Legendary. They’ve both seen the movie in pieces, in long, long fragments, but they haven’t seen it beginning to end. We have temp effects for basically almost everything, because again I process VFX while I shoot. I’m extremely, extremely happy with the movie.”
The filmmaker told Steve that there’s only one deleted scene from the entire film, delving a bit into his multi-tasking directorial process:
“I think that the total deleted scenes is one. Well two, in a way; the tail end of one scene and a whole scene. The rest is shaving because the reason I cut every day during the shoot is because that way I calibrate that the movie doesn’t get too long or too short. I think that you need to land under or around the low, low end of two hours in a movie. It’s so difficult for me to sit through movies that are two hours and fifty minutes, or things like that, and I really am very conscious of that. I was calibrating while we shot, so if I need to go faster I target scenes that can go faster. And if I need to go slower, I calibrate scenes that allow me to go slower.”