Category Archives: TV

Interview: Director Susanne Bier talks ‘The Night Manager’

Susanne Bier (photo: AMC)

By Tim Lammers

Being at the helm of just one episode of a miniseries based on a classic espionage novel by best-selling author John le Carré would probably be enough to whet the appetite of most directors. But for Danish filmmaker Suzanne Bier, the greatest satisfaction would only come from leaving her mark on “The Night Manager” from start to finish.

Granted, such an enormous undertaking meant about two years of her life to adapt the 1993 bestseller, but Bier, 56, said every second was worth it.

“It is a lot of work, but a lot of inspiring, fun, weirdly invigorating work,” Bier said, laughing, in a recent phone conversation from London. “The material is so exciting and the cast is so great. So, yes, it’s physically exhausting, but it made me happy every day.”

And by all indications, Bier’s life is about to get even happier. As she prepares to unveil the series finale in the six-part television event to audiences Tuesday night (AMC, check local listings), the buzz surround the series may very well translate to Primetime Emmy nominations across the board for the Danish director and the BBC-produced miniseries.

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“The Night Manager” follows the suspenseful and unpredictable path of Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), a former British soldier whose seemingly quiet life as a hotel night manager in Egypt becomes suddenly complicated when he’s recruited by MI6 intelligence to infiltrate the operation of elusive arms dealer Richard Onslo Roper (Hugh Laurie).

Originally broadcast on the BBC this past February through March, “The Night Manager” also stars Olivia Colman as the intelligence officer who sends Pine undercover; Elizabeth Debicki as Roper’s conflicted lover and Pine’s potential paramour; and Tom Hollander as Roper’s right-hand man who’s deeply suspicious of Pine’s motivations.

The release of “The Night Manager” oddly comes as talk continues to heat up about Hiddleston being a prime candidate to become the next James Bond in the 007 film series. Having first won over audiences as the mischievous Loki from Marvel comic book movies and most recently, winning critical acclaim as Hank Williams Sr. in the biopic “I Saw the Light,” Hiddleston no doubt has a tremendous presence about him — the sort of presence befitting of James Bond and his undercover character in “The Night Manager.”

“The thing about Tom is that Tom is almost like a real spy. A spy always has good secrets, and you can compare them to great actors, because great actors also have good secrets,” Bier said. “A great actor will control how much he is willing to show you, and Tom is masterful at being secretive, being enigmatic and being incredibly attractive, charismatic and likeable. That’s quite a rare thing for an actor, because maintaining the likability whilst keeping so much hidden is just a real art, and Tom does that.”

On top of that, Bier added, Hiddleston’s a nice guy — and that’s a must if any collaboration she enters into is going to be successful.

“He’s a super nice guy. The thing is, I need to work with people I like,” said Bier, the Oscar-winning director of the 2010 Best Foreign Film “In a Better World.” “Maybe certain directors get energy from antagonism. I don’t. I get energy from collaboration.”

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Bier said she also gets energy from working with Laurie, the six-time Emmy nominee as the cranky yet brilliant Dr. Gregory House in the acclaimed television drama “House.” In “The Night Manager,” Laurie is a quite a bit more than cantankerous — he’s evil in fact — but evil and engaging at the same time.

“We don’t try to hide it,” Bier said. “We know right from the beginning that this man is really, really bad, yet you want to be at his parties, you want to be on holiday at his house and you want to be seated next to him at dinner because he’s so much fun and attractive — yet he is such bad news.”

In addition to being surrounded by such immense talent, Bier got the best of both worlds when it came to filming “The Night Manager” in that the production shot most everything on location. In addition to the U.K., “The Night Manager” took Bier and company to such places as Switzerland, Egypt, Spain and Morocco; and not for the purposes of making the production a working vacation. In fact, there’s a very sound rationale behind the places the series was shot, Bier said.

“You could say in a way that the locations are extra players — they’re characters,” Bier explained. “The story asks if this undercover agent is going to be sucked into Roper’s world. Is he going to compromise his moral integrity? Is he going to let down the mission he’s set out to accomplish? For those ideas to work, the places he goes need to be just as seductive as Roper himself.”

Interview: Amanda Crew talks ‘Silicon Valley’

Amanda Crew in Silicon Valley 2

By Tim Lammers

Since her debut in 2005, acclaimed actress Amanda Crew has benefit of doing both film and television, and better yet has had several opportunities to play across the spectrum of genres. Lucky for Crew, her latest gig — the hit HBO series “Silicon Valley” – continues that winning streak in that at heart it’s a comedy, but has some wicked dramatic edges as well.

Season 3 of the series, which debuted last month, picks up with the momentous firing of Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) as CEO from his own company, a storyline not unfamiliar in the landscape of the real Silicon Valley. Crew is back as Monica Hall, the assistant to the main investor of the company, who still has a soft spot for Richard and his cohorts even though creative control has been wrestled from them.

Crew thinks her fascination with the tech industry and part of the reason “Silicon Valley” has resonated so much with viewers is that, while not all of us are a part of the industry, most of us certainly are an extension of it through the devices and applications they produce whether we realize it or not.

“We’re all consumers – we’re all users of it,” Crew said. “Before I started on the show I didn’t know anything about it, but now I’m so fascinated by it. You hear about these headlines, like ‘Snapchat was offered $3 billion but turned it down,’ and you’re like, ‘Who is this Evan guy and what the f—?’ or read about Steve Jobs getting kicked out of his own company and wondering how could that happen. Getting to explore this world and see all this money thrown around — to see how people can one minute be the hottest thing and they’re like God and the next minute they’re nothing — is fascinating.”

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In an odd sort of way, Crew, 29, said she can also relate to the tech industry because the film and television industry is just as fickle.

“It makes me think of these big franchises and how you can be part of this huge movie that pops o

ut of nowhere, where yesterday you were nobody and today everybody wants a piece of you,” Crew said. “That can mess with your head, because a year later, the heat can fizzle out no one will care about you anymore and you have to deal with those feelings.”

Crew said that real-life narrative actually mirrors Richard’s dilemma in “Silicon Valley.”

“Everyone was throwing money at him and everyone wanted to work with him, but then all of a sudden, no one could touch him because he was being sued,” Crew said. “It’s like, one minute you’re being offered millions of dollars, and now you might not be able to keep your company afloat for another month.”

While Crew ultimately can walk away from the set of “Silicon Valley” at the end of each day and thank the heavens she’s not a part of the cut-throat tech world, part of her heart remains with Monica, because she’s a person you can aspire to be.

“I really the love character of Monica because she’s such a great role model. She’s really an intelligent, well-spoken, educated and successful businesswoman who has a moral compass,” Crew said. “A lot of business people are just sharks. They’re just after the money and they don’t care if people hate them or if they damage someone’s life … What I really like about her is that she’s not this shark who has no heart. She really genuinely cares about these guys. I think that’s why she’s successful, because she really fights for what she believes in.”

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Amy Manson talks Merida, ‘Once Upon a Time’ for D23.com

ABC

By Tim Lammers

A veteran of British TV and film, Scottish actress Amy Manson took a brave new step, so to speak, into American television this season when she was cast in the recurring role of Merida in the hit ABC adventure fantasy series “Once Upon a Time.” Currently enjoying a mid-season break after appearing in six episodes last fall, Manson, 30, recently talked with me for D23.com. She discussed the origins of Merida—who, of course, debuted in the 2012 Disney/Pixar Best Animated Feature Oscar winner, “Brave”—her work on “Once Upon a Time,” and when she’ll appear on the show next after Season 5 resumes March 6.

Tim Lammers: During the mid-season break, have you had time to step back and let everything sink in about just how amazing this opportunity has been?

Amy Manson: Maybe when I went home for Christmas to Scotland. It’s one thing to be in your homeland as opposed to trying to re-create a place as your homeland, when you only have yourself, your thoughts, and your memories when you’re filming. Having time with my family in Scotland, and especially with my father—given the events of Merida’s storyline in the show—made me feel grateful. Being home really gave me my first chance to think of everything.

Read the full interview at D23.com.

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