All posts by Tim Lammers

Interview: Eva Green brings bloody battle to ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

Sure, seven years have passed since the first “300” film and the specter of Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas is still looming large. But if anybody has fears that such a larger-than-life screen persona can’t be replicated, they’re sure to be knocked on their asses with Eva Green’s stunning portrayal of Artemisia in “300: Rise of an Empire.”

Beautiful, charismatic, ruthless and sexy as hell, Green’s Artemisia commands your attention every second she’s on-screen. The great thing is, while Green possesses all the physical attributes to make the character work, you can also see the wheels spinning behind her piercing eyes because Artemisia is also wrought with inner turmoil. The character is filled with all sorts of complexities, and Green said she reveled in every single one of them.

Eva Green in '300 Rise of an Empire' (photo -- Warner Bros)
Eva Green in ‘300 Rise of an Empire’ (photo: Warner Bros.).

“Thank God there’s the back story, otherwise, she would just be a one-dimensional killing machine,” Green observed. “Instead, we find out that she was traumatized as a child and had to build this sort of inner armor to survive. Her heart is so hard and there’s almost nothing left.”

Nothing, except a passion ignited by her enemy, the Greek General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton); an adversary she doesn’t necessarily loathe — but admires — because he’s equal to her in skill and stature. They go toe-to-toe and them some throughout “300: Rise of an Empire,” and in one of the film’s wildest scenes, Artemisia tries to seduce Themistokles in what may is destined to be one of the most-talked about sex scenes in years to come.

“It is kind of interesting when Themistokles shows up and it’s like, ‘Whoa,'” Green said with a laugh. “He might have awakened something in her, or not, because she’s completely mad. That childhood trauma made her blind and so full of vengeance. Her mission in life is ‘War, war and war.'”

Opening in theaters Friday in 2D, 3D and on IMAX screens, “300: Rise of an Empire” is based on the graphic novel “Xerxes” by “300” author Frank Miller. Directed by Noam Murro and produced and co-written by “300” helmer Zack Snyder, the story not only recalls the origins of the mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), it effectively runs parallel to the fateful journey of the 300 Spartans who march into battle against the Persian Army.

The crux of the story, though, is Themistokles’ battle against the massive invading Persian forces, ruled by Xerxes and led by Artemisia, who is the vengeful commander of the Persian Navy.

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Admittedly shy in real life, Green loves roles like Artemisia because they give her an opportunity to blow off steam in ways she never otherwise dream of doing. After all, the soft-spoken yet engaging French-born actress clearly isn’t the sort of person who you’d imagine decapitating a person and kissing their disembodied head on the lips. She’ll leave that up to somebody as insane as Artemisia.

“To be irreverent, not polite and have no respect is fun because it’s so big. It’s fun to go so extreme,” Green, 33, enthused. “I think it’s important to have fun with it instead of being so serious and doing it with butterflies in your stomach.”

Adding to the fun for Green on “300: Rise of an Empire” was to get trained in the ways of the warrior. Not only did Green dive into an intense regimen to not only be fit physically to do all her own stunts, she also became very proficient with knives, swords and a bow and arrow.

“I’m action hero now,” Green said, laughing. “It was one of the things that I found appealing about the role. I was so excited to learn for a couple months how to play with double swords. It ended up being like a dance, in a way. But you still have to learn how to train to get stronger to do the fight scenes. You have to lift weights, and do lunges and squats so you can go low in your stances.”

Green said the idea of doing so much training was daunting at first, but it didn’t take long for the jitters to go away.

“I really got a kick out of it. I’m not really physical, usually, so it was like, ‘Whoa. This is a challenge,’ but it turned out to be great. I felt so much stronger. Now, I’ve lost everything I gained, of course,” she lamented.

Effectively, Green got the entire package playing Artemisia in “300: Rise of an Empire,” and to top it all off, she got to wear some pretty wicked wardrobe, too.

“The costumes were beautiful. Very regal, yet rock ‘n’ roll,” Green said. “They were very cool.”

Green is teaming up with Miller again in August in the “Sin City” sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.” Before that, she’ll be starring in the new Showtime series “Penny Dreadful,” which is described by the cable network as a psycho-sexual thriller.

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Available Now: ‘Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton’

Tim Lammers’ new ebook, “Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton,” featuring a foreword by Tim Burton, is here!

You can download the book in several formats — PDF, EPUB (iPad, Nook and most e-book readers) and MOBI (Kindle) — HERE.

The ebook is also available directly on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Google Books, Kobo Books and iTunes.

Read more about the ebook below.

'Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton'Cover photo © Leah Gallo

Throughout Tim Lammers’ career, he’s had many wonderful opportunities to talk with director Tim Burton and the key players who helped bring his stop-motion films “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Corpse Bride,” and “Frankenweenie” to life.

Now for the first time, Tim has assembled the stories from Burton and his band of creatives all in one place. In “Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton,” you will not only hear from Tim Burton, but Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Allison Abbate, Martin Landau, Elijah Wood, Atticus Shaffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, the late Ray Harryhausen, and more. Burton also reflects on “Vincent,” the classic stop-motion animated film short that features the director’s first collaboration with legendary actor Vincent Price.

The release of “Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton” comes as the 1993 classic “The Nightmare Before Christmas” celebrates its 20th anniversary.

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Interview: T Bone Burnett talks ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ Coen brothers

Joel and Ethan Coen on the set of 'Inside Llewyn Davis' (inset T Bone Burnett)Joel and Ethan Coen on the set of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ (inset: T Bone Burnett). Photos: CBS Films, Lester Cohen/TBoneBurnett.com

By Tim Lammers

Much in the way Billy Preston was referred to by many as “The Fifth Beatle,” T Bone Burnett has more than earned the same sort of distinction because of his fruitful working relationship with filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen.

In fact, in a recent interview with Burnett in conjunction with the release of “Inside Llewyn Davis,” I asked the legendary music producer if I could refer to him as “The Third Coen Brother,” and he was more than OK with the distinction.

“I hope they’ll adopt me eventually,” Burnett told me, laughing. “I’ve always felt a real kinship with them, really from the first time I saw one of their films. I like their films so much that I actually called them up. We had friends in common and things like that, but I guess you could say this was a fan phone call to them. We talked films and turned into friends from there.”

The first thing Burnett, 65, said he realized in talking with them was that they have the same sort of sensibilities as writers and directors, as he has as a songwriter and producer.

“I could tell they approached storytelling the exact same way I did from their first movie,” Burnett said.

Now playing in limited release and expanding to more theaters Friday, “Inside Llewyn Davis” tells the story of the title character (Oscar Isaac), a struggling folk musician and songwriter in New York’s Greenwich Village a short time before Bob Dylan changed the face of music in 1961.

Burnett’s music-supervisor duties on the film marks the fourth time he’s worked with the Coens, and it’s easily the most extensive project he’s done with them since “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in 2000.

NEW: Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton (Foreword by Tim Burton)

Much like his previous collaborations with the Coens, Burnett, who also co-wrote some music for “Llewyn Davis,” was treated like a creative partner on the film. After all, much of the film is essentially told through song, with live performances by Isaac, co-stars Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, and others — so Burnett was happy to be intimately involved with the production.

“They’re incredibly generous and inclusive people,” Burnett explained. “Generosity is the hallmark of an artist, and they are the soul of generosity. While it’s three-way collaboration, I have to say they’re incredibly good at music, too. I’m just their facilitator. They have beautiful tastes and come up with incredible ideas, so I value them. I can’t do it without them, I can tell you that. While the music is part of the film, the film is part of the music. They can’t exist without each other.”

While “Inside Llewyn Davis” includes songs of the era, it also includes a new, original tune, “Please Mr. Kennedy” — a swinging, folksy tune performed by Isaac, Timberlake and Adam Driver in the film. A satirical ditty about America’s entry into the space race, the song pegs John Glenn as a reluctant astronaut before being sent into orbit.

“The song has a lot of history in it; it has Ogden Nash-style lyrics, John Glenn and John Kennedy,” Burnett explained. “There’s an old song from the ’60s, ‘Please Mr. Kennedy,’ that says, ‘Don’t send me off to Vietnam.’ That was the

initial impetus of the song.”

While the success of “Inside Llewyn Davis” is unfolding — the film has already received top nominations from the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Golden Globes, among many others — Burnett said he can see another collaboration with the Coens in his future because there are just too many ideas in their minds that haven’t been tapped into yet.

In turn, Burnett hopes the brothers tap into his subconscious ideas, too, because deep down, he always wants bring something new and exciting to the fore.

“You’re only as good as the other people in your community, so the idea is that we all try to lift each other up,” Burnett said, humbly. “Certainly, the Coens hold everybody up, including themselves, to the highest standards. It’s like how if you play tennis, you play with better people because you want to play better.”

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