Tag Archives: Kevin Costner

Interview flashback: Henry Cavill talks ‘Man of Steel’

Henry Cavill in Man of Steel

By Tim Lammers

Interview originally published June 2013

For “Man of Steel” star Henry Cavill, the key to the success of director Zack Snyder’s exciting new interpretation of the iconic character of Superman isn’t so much about the film’s spectacular special effects as it is creating a character grounded in reality. After all, any film has a hard time flying (so to speak) if the audience can’t relate to the main character, no matter how much it dazzles its audience visually.

Of course, the big difference between Superman and his fans is that humans don’t have superpowers (so far as we know), But one thing everyone shares, including the Man of Steel, is the feeling of confusion and isolation as they struggle to find their purpose in this world.

“The emotional aspect is one of the most important traits of the movie,” Cavill told me in a recent interview. “We’ve grounded it very much in reality and although Superman himself is not subject to the frailties of the human flesh, he’s very much subject to the frailties of the human mind.”

Opening Friday in 2D and 3D theaters and on IMAX screens nationwide, “Man of Steel” tracks the origins of Superman, born Kal-El to Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) on the distant planet of Krypton. With the planet crumbling beneath their feet and threat of anarchy by the menacing General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his band of militants, Kal-El is shipped off to Earth by his parents with the hopes that the child will someday grow to be an agent of good in his adoptive home.

Urged by his Earth parents, John and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), to hide his otherworldly gifts as a child, Clark Kent, as Kal-El is now known, is forced at age 33 to embrace his destiny as a superhero when Zod invades the planet looking for him. Clark, as it turns out, is the key to the general’s plan to bring Krypton back to life, and the fate of the planet — including the life of Clark’s new friend, journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) — hangs in the balance because it.

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Told in a gritty, real-world narrative that relies heavily on flashbacks instead of the linear sort of storytelling we’re used to seeing with the character, ‘”Man of Steel” is no doubt the most daring and unique film about Superman yet.

And while “Man of Steel” stays true to the Superman canon, Cavill is thrilled that Snyder and writers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer were willing to take risks in bringing the new story to the fore.

“One of the wonderful things about this film is that it breaks new ground and tells a new story in a way that isn’t safe, because that makes it even more interesting,” Cavill observed. “It’s a genuine pleasure to be working with these guys.”

Another person Cavill worked with, albeit indirectly, was Hans Zimmer, Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy composer, who took the daunting responsibility of creating the score for “Man of Steel.”

Zimmer, in a recent interview, told me the score came together like clockwork because of several elements, including the strengths of the actors’ portrayals. Scoring to Cavill came naturally because of the actor’s complete embodiment of his character.

“I don’t think we’ve could have done this movie without Henry,” Zimmer confessed. “He to me is so perfect. I can’t possibly imagine anybody else playing Superman. It made it easier scoring to him. All of the characters made me feel that way. The movie is so incredibly well-cast.”

Suiting up
One of the new directions the filmmakers took in “Man of Steel” was with a new design of Superman’s suit, which viewers will discover was influenced by Kal-El’s Krypton origins. But no matter the differences between the old Superman suits and the new one, it still very much is Superman — and Cavill said was thrilled beyond belief to step onto the set in his costume for the very first time.

“There was something very special, that very first time — it was just an honor to be there, representing Superman,” Cavill, 30, enthused. “Everyone was there and 100 percent into the job, and it was an honor to be chosen to do this very important duty.”

Without question, the most important part of Cavill’s duty was the research he put into the role. Ultimately, the British actor decided, it was in his best interest to avoid all film versions of the Superman tale — including the classic portrayal by Christopher Reeve — and only rely on the comic books for his research.

“I didn’t want to watch the other movies or any live action stuff because I felt it would influence my interpretation of the character,” Cavill said. “I wanted my interpretation to be purely from the source material, which are the comic books.”

Cavill did eventually see one Superman movie — his own — and admitted that watching “Man of Steel” was in some ways like an out-of-body experience. Gone was Cavill the man who was on the set every day filming the superhero tale, and in the seat was Cavill the average, unassuming moviegoer.

“I was 100 percent swept up watching the movie,” Cavill said. “Yes, I was privy to the movie magic and yes, I had that personal experience because I was there, but I was getting emotional throughout the movie. I wanted to stand up and cheer, support different characters and ask all the different questions the movie makes you ask. It was a great experience. I was speechless after seeing it. I’ve watched it two more times since and felt the same after each time, and I can’t wait to watch it again.”

Until then, Cavill will get to relive his memories of being the Man of Steel through several different means, including the ever-important action figures that come along with superhero film releases. The figures made him giddy when he received them, and he can’t wait to share them with his family.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. I’m sitting in my hotel room, looking at this 31-inch tall action figure of the character, and it’s very, very surreal looking at it,” Cavill beamed. “Having action figures is going to make getting Christmas and birthday presents for my nephews very easy from now on.”


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Movie reviews: ‘Project Almanac,’ ‘Black Sea,’ ‘Black or White’

Project Almanac

“Project Almanac” (PG-13) 2 1/2 stars (out of four)

Get ready to be all shook up by producer Michael Bay’s manic movie “Project Almanac,” the latest offering from MTV Films that puts the shaky in shaky cam. A first-person camera movie (a la “Cloverfield” and “Chronicle”) that’s clearly aimed at the teen demographic, “Project Almanac” would be nearly intolerable if not for its ever-fascinating  narrative about traveling back in time, and the potential repercussions those travels have on the future. In a weird way, “Project Almanac” is like “Back to the Future” with an MTV generation twist.

Jonny Weston stars as David Raskin, a brainiac Atlanta high school senior on a course to attend MIT, only if he can come up with the money to attend the prestigious institution. Looking for ideas for a scholarship presentation while rummaging through the family attic, David discovers a video from his 7th birthday party where an image of his current-day self appears in a mirror.

Investigating the bizarre occurrence, David discovers his dad worked for a secret government program and was developing a machine to make time travel possible. Together with his science nerd friends (Sam Lerner and Allen Evangelista), his sister (Amy Landecker) and the girl of his dreams (Sofia Black-D’Elia), David figures out how to make the “second chance machine” work, which enables the group to travel back in time.

But as the group discovers, the more they jump back and forth in time, the more their actions alter future events, sometimes with deadly results. Worse yet, any attempts to fix what they’ve done by going back in time again only creates other problems.

Naturally, “Project Almanac” is predictable insofar as we know that messing with history is bound to backfire on the teens. The great thing is, we have no idea how. While the narrative as a whole is a stretch, “Project Almanac” is entertaining as long as you sit back and enjoy the and ride and don’t let the movie’s inconsistencies drive you crazy.

Even though the film features a cast of unknowns and perpetually nauseous camera movements, the always spellbinding concept of time travel and rewriting history makes “Project Almanac” a worthwhile trip. The whole idea of documenting the events of the film on a smart phone video feels fitting for today’s tech-savvy generation, and the mind-bending concept is enough to hold everybody else’s attention.

While the presentation of “Project Almanac” is less than desirable, there are far worse ways to spend a couple of hours.

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Reviewed in brief:

“Black Sea” (R) 3 stars (out of four)

Jude Law gives a commanding performance in “Black Sea,” a dark and gritty submarine thriller that will undoubtedly test the limits of claustrophobic moviegoers. Law stars as Robinson, a hard-nosed Scottish sub captain unceremoniously discarded by his employer after 11 dedicated years on the job. Before too long, though, Robinson is approached by a shady financier to command a bucket of bolts to the dangerous depths of the Black Sea, where rumored to be buried on a ridge is a Nazi U-boat that contains $20 million in gold.

With everyone promised an equal cut of the profit, the submarine soon turns into an underwater deathtrap as crewmembers contemplate killing one another to effectively get a bigger slice of the loot. But as vessel becomes damaged and the shocking plan behind the mission is revealed, the crewmembers have to find a way to put aside their differences if there’s any chance for survival.

Expertly directed by Kevin Macdonald, the great thing about “Black Sea” is that it’s every bit about its deeply flawed characters as it is the intense action scenes that propel the story ahead to its final destination. And while the scenarios get more ridiculous as the film enters its final act — the ending presents the most implausible scenario — “Black Sea,” despite its faults, is a pretty exciting ride.

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“Black or White” (PG-13) 3 stars (out of four)

Kevin Costner stars in and produces “Black or White,” a gutsy family drama that examines race relations in the U.S. through a custody battle for a mixed-race child between her white maternal grandfather (Costner) and black paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer).

Costner plays Elliot, a successful Los Angeles attorney who, along with his wife (Jennifer Ehle) raised Eloise (Jillian Estelle), after their daughter died in childbirth. But after his wife’s sudden death, Elliot becomes despondent and his drinking problem worsens, so Eloise’s grandmother, Rowena (Spencer) seeks shared custody. The case becomes more intense when the Eloise’s recovering drug addict father (Andre Holland) resurfaces and claims he can now parent her full-time, even though he avoided the responsibility the girl’s entire life.

Interview: Kevin Costner talks “Black or White”

Writer-director Mike Binder unflinchingly dives into a touchy area with “Black or White” as the subject of race enters the court battle, as both sides debate which culture, effectively, would be best for Eloise to be raised in. What follows is a brutally honest discussion of race from both sides of the case, which manages to be effective without being politically correct or preachy.

For as powerful as the subject matter is, “Black or White” is hampered, oddly enough, by the film’s score, which sometimes makes it feel like a Lifetime movie. That’s too bad, because everybody in the film — from Costner and Spencer to Anthony Mackie as Rowena’s brother attorney and comedian Bill Burr in an effective, serious turn as Elliot’s law associate — bring their A-game. Whether you catch “Black or White” in theaters or eventually on the tube, it’s a film that everybody should make a point seeing.

Tim Lammers is a veteran entertainment reporter and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films for “KARE 11 News at 11” and various Minnesota radio stations.

Interview: Kevin Costner tackles race relations with ‘Black or White’

The last time I talked with Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor Kevin Costner was for the political satire “Swing Vote,” which was easily one of the most underrated movies in 2008. Costner not only brought heart and passion to the role of a regular Joe who was about to cast the one vote that could decide the winner of a dead-even presidential election, but he also invested his own money in the project as one of the film’s producers to see his vision through.

More than six years later, Costner has brought another impassioned project to the big screen with “Black or White,” a film that takes on, in a brutally honest way, the touchy subject of race relations as a white man and black woman vie for custody of their mixed-race granddaughter. Like “Swing Vote,” Costner felt so strongly about the narrative of “Black or White” that he dipped into his bank account again — this time to the reported tune of $9 million — to make sure the film got made.

“I really couldn’t turn my back on the film once I read the script,” Costner told me in a recent phone call from New York. “When I couldn’t get anybody else to make the film, I walked down the hall to my wife and said, ‘I have to share this story.’ I said, ‘We have to be really honest with it and not soften one word. Let’s just stay with it’ and that’s what we did.”

Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner in 'Black or White'
Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner in “Black or White” (photo: Relativity Media).

Opening in theaters nationwide on Friday, “Black or White” stars Costner as Elliot, a successful Los Angeles attorney struggling with the sudden death of his wife, Carol (Jennifer Ehle). Together the couple raised their late daughter’s young girl, Eloise (Jillian Estelle), but with Carol’s death and Elliot’s drinking problem, Eloise’s paternal grandmother, Rowena (Octavia Spencer), seeks full custody of the child.

Complicating matters is the re-emergence of Eloise’s recovering drug addicted father, Reggie (Andre Holland), who claims he is clean enough to take on parental responsibilities, and the implication by Rowena’s attorney brother, Jeremiah (Anthony Mackie), that Elliot is racist.

Given ongoing debate about race relations in the U.S., Costner said he was well aware of the hot-button issue he was about to press, but said the story of “Black or White” was too compelling to back away from. As if addressing racism wasn’t tough enough, the film also confronts the issue of reverse racism, among other controversial subjects.

“I felt the film had to be made, because it felt so honest to me,” Costner said. “It felt like there were things in the script that a lot of people wanted to say and wish they could say, but don’t know how to actually articulate it. The film doesn’t pull a single punch. It’s not politically correct, but it’s not cruel. It’s actually warm. People who feel worn about by this race thing, I hope they see it. I’ve made a lot of different kinds of movies, so if I tell you I think everybody should see this, I really mean it.”

Among the subjects is something Costner believes will reverberate with audience members from the black community — a plea for a black man to stand up and take responsibility for his family instead of abandoning them and resorting to criminal activities. It comes in a compelling scene in which Jeremiah, even though he’s acting as his attorney, admonishes Reggie for his lifestyle and behavior.

“Anthony Mackie’s character really lays out his nephew with things he wanted to say as a person and for his own culture and for his own generation. He was saying, ‘Straighten up, man,'” Costner said.

Costner noted, however, that writer-director Mike Binder’s script was “even-handed,” and it required him to go to some uncomfortable places as an actor. Without question, one of the most daunting scenes came in courtroom testimony in which Elliot was forced to testify about some previous racial remarks.

“My character in that courtroom room says s— that made me think, ‘My God, I have to say this?'”

; Costner said. “It was a bit of miracle that it got made, and I do believe it has a chance to be a classic. I know that I was a different person after I read the screenplay, and I know, watching audiences, that people are different after seeing it.”

While Costner said he felt compelled to make the film after reading Binder’s script, the subject of race relations is something he’s wanted to put on the big screen for a long time.

“I grew up around race issues. It wasn’t around people who were angry, but people who used the N-word very casually,” said the California native, who turned 60 in mid-January. “Again, it wasn’t out anger, but more because of ignorance with jokes in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s no longer appropriate, which I’m glad to say. It’s concerned me how we’ve treated each other, so this movie goes right to the bone. Sometimes a movie can start a conversation, and this is important to me. I’ve learned a long time ago, if I treat something with importantly, chances are it will be taken that way.”

Costner well knows “Black or White” won’t be the be-all, end-all solution for race troubles in today’s society, he’s glad to have had the opportunity to make some sort of difference. Progress has been made over the years, he said, but he also believes society has a long way to go.

“My children know nothing about race, but that doesn’t mean the issues of people being marginalized and discriminated against aren’t happening every day as we speak,” Costner said. “Racism is alive and well, and we need to get hip to that. There’s progress being made, without a doubt, but there’s a whole group of people who don’t feel that. There’s a level of empathy that goes with that, but you can’t just snap your fingers and say, ‘Come on, pull yourself by your bootstraps and get over it.’ That’s a little bit unrealistic because the veil of being black in America is a heavy one.”

At the very least, Costner hopes ‘Black or White’ gives the issue more clarity as the country strives to move forward.

“We have to grow as a society. How do we do that? I don’t know. I’m not Solomon; I’m a filmmaker,” Costner said. “I thought if I were going to make a film that dealt with this, it needed to play it right to the bone.”

Reviews: Tim Lammers talks ‘The Identical,’ ‘Draft Day’ on video on KARE-TV

Blake Rayne in 'The Identical' (photo -- Freestyle Releasing)

Tim Lammers reviews the new music drama “The Identical” with Diana Pierce on KARE-TV. Also, Tim takes a look at “Draft Day,” new on home video this week.

Tim’s written reviews of “The Identical” and “Draft Day” are also on BringMeTheNews.com, and he also talks about the films in radio reviews on KTWIN-FM and KSCR-FM.

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