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Set Visit Interview : Jason Statham & Jon Turteltaub

”Action films, they’re really good fun!” says the star of “The Meg”

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In 2017, Moviehole visited the set of the science fiction action thriller “The Meg,” being directed by Jon Turteltaub (the “National Treasure” movies, “Last Vegas”), in New Zealand. We spent time with stars Jason Statham (“Spy,” “Furious 7,” “The Expendables” films), comic superstar Rainn Wilson (“The Office”), Australian film and TV sensation Ruby Rose (“John Wick 2”, “xXx : The Return of Xander Cage”) and Turtletaub.

A deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew—and the ocean itself—from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below…bringing him face to face once more with the greatest and largest predator of all time.

JASON STATHAM & JON TURTELTAUB

So how’s the shoot going?

JT: I am shocked it’s going as well as it’s going. Especially with the weather here, it rains everyday in Auckland. But it also is sunny everyday in Auckland, so there’s that. And We’re in water, there’s a giant shark, we have all kinds of stuff going on. So we have no right for things to be going as well as they are but they are.

Shooting involved with water is famously tough. Do you consult any of your fears with experience to get some tips?

JT: I did. First of all Jason [Statham’s] done a ton and was very helpful telling me how badly it was going to go. ‘It’s horrible, it’s horrible, it’s water, it’s a mess’. And he’s right, it’s tough. But I talked to a lot of people, not just about shooting out in the water, but shooting in a tank and what to do to make that look good, based on all the poeple that called and said ‘here’s what to do to make it look bad’, what they did. SO we’ve improved… but it’s never easy, just slow.

How many minutes before the first joke about peeing in the tank? And how many times since?

JS: Those divers are always sniggering so.

JT: I will say, the clarity of the water was a lot better on day one… We’re not all in there pissing in the water! We’re gracefully in a boat above the water and doing nicely! And it’s all recycled 0 not that there’s a lack of water in New Zealand. Holy crap! As I said, it rains everyday. But you certainly couldn’t fill a tank like that in Los Angeles Because of the drought. That’s another good reason to come here.

Jason, with your background in diving, has being in the water been a bit more familiar than a lot of the other cast members?

JS: Well, it’s funny because you know when we reference my former years as a diver everything that I did was above water. As a diver, they seem to think you’re naturally good underneath, which is not the case. But I learnt to scuba dive years an years ago for a movieand I just got addicted to it and in fact one of the first fascinations I had with the underwater world was watching The Big Blue. And I was just obsessed with the free divers and how they could take a breath and you know go six, seven, 800 feet.  But to think that you could do 800ft on a breath of air it’s fascinating what we’re capable of. So yeah, I’ve always been interested in the underwater world. And the fact that we kind of make a movie about what lies down at the bottom of the ocean is a great thing because known one really knows what’s down there. It’s the only thing that we certainly do know that we don’t know about. YOu know, you just can’t get around it. It’s so vast, it cover two thirds of the planet, you just don’t know. What we do know is they found huge fossils of the Megaladon shark’s teeth, so we know it existed but do we really know, you know? Obviously we have to rely on the smart people who say it’s not around anymore. I think there’s a great curiosity to think that maybe they don’t know.

Were you one of these kids who were really into sharks?

JS: Yeah, totally. I remember buying magazine years ago seeing Rodney Fox get chomped by a great white. There’s that classic picture of him with his arms out. You know, I remember reading that story really stuck with me for years and years, about how he found himself in the jaws of a great white. He said it was quite painless at the time. He just got a sheer, immense amount of pressure that was just like, just consumed him. But yeah, it’s a fascinating creature the shark itself, great whites, you know, they’ve got teeth that replace themselves in 24 hours, they never stop moving, they can sense activity and they can smell you peeing in the water a mile away, you know if you cut yourself… They’ve got such incredible perception of whats in the water and whats around them. Yeah, they’re fascinating creature.

And your character is the film, Jonas, is he a fascinating creature?

JS: Of course he is! Whatever Jon created with Jonas character, you’ll have to wait and see! But yeah, it’s a great part, I love it, we’re having a lot of laughts. Yeah, he’s got lot of sort of things that I haven’t really played before so we’re getting through it, aren’t we Jon?

JT: Yeah, I have to admit I was surprised when I got to know Jason. That he was not kind of the ultra serious, cranky action star that I was expecting. But he’s just awesome and for me, it’s just who I am too. I don’t want to make a big shark movie that’s grouchy and serious about grouchy and serious people. I want this movie to be fun and to be fun the characters have to themselves be fun and have a sense of humour. You know, I don’t think any character in 2016, 17, 18 when this comes out, in our world is unaware they’re doing something extraordinary or crazy or bizarre. And yeah, you find a Magaldon, you’re really aware that there’s ‘what the hell is there a Megaladon doing in our day and age?’. And that’s humourus and fun and people react in a funny way. And Jason’s been great, just a really multi faceted character that he’s finding that’s both grumpy and miserable and fun and excited and adventurous and angry…

JS: [Laughs.] Save that bit until last!

JT: And that’s just the first scene!

Sounds like it’s got a bit of everything too. There’s action and there’s comedy but also [producer Belle Avery] said it’s go a bit of romance as well.

JT: Of course the lady mentioned the romance! Yes, there is. My wife always crushes me. Any time I get a script I start to tell her what the movie’s about, and I say ‘there’s this guy with this long past and he comes on this adventure to find the sharks, and there’s this woman who’s a scientist…’ She goes ‘do they get married?’ I’m like ‘we’ll work on it’. But yes, there’s romance in the film and ?? fornication??  and we just shot a really yummy scene this morning actually where someone was only partially clothed… You’re just going to have to see the movie to find out who it is! All I can say is that [whispers] great ass!

JS: It wasn’t me.

JT: And a lot of humour. A lot of humour. Not to take away from the movie but to add to it.

Is humour sexy? Is that what you’re saying?

JT: That’s my life. No, I said sexy and I said nudity, there’s a big difference. I’m lucky to get nudity in my sex life.

Are you enjoying shooting in New Zealand?

JT: Yeah. One of the great things about being in the movie business is you see the world, you go on these adventures, you live other places and someone else pays. And you’re flown nicely and put up in nice hotels and you get to live, not just visit as a tourist, but really live somewhere. So it’s been fun getting to know a little bit of Australia, getting to know New Zealand, getting to know the Kiwis and what life here is really like, you know. It’s been great. And shocked at how amazing the food is. Not the New Zealand food, but the restaurants of Auckland are incredible.

Jason, you came here for the Commonwealth Games way back.

Yeah. 26 years ago, yeah. We were shut in a village that they’d created with these little mobile homes and they sort of wanted to keep a close eye on us because they probably knew what we’d get up to if they put us in a hotel! So we kind of were sort of trapped in this sort of compound, so we didn’t really see much until we finished our competitions and then the wheels came off and we found every pub in Auckland, hence I can’t remember a thing about it! That was a long time ago! But yeah, it was a lot of fun back then. This time, like Jon was saying, you know I really get to experience going around and living like the locals do. Or trying to!

Apart from the time you spent on location, you spend a lot of time in a concrete structure with a green screen. Is there something kind of funny about travelling half way around the world to stand in someone else’s backyard to make a movie?

JT: Yeah. Look most movies can be made most places nowadays and partially that’s because places all around the world have developed film businesses and there are crews here that are really talented people. You can hire locally. Don’t kid yourself, the answer to every question in the world, the answer to why do you do anything, it’s because of the money. Right? If it were cheaper to stay in Los Angeles, I’m sure Warner Brothers would stay in Los Angeles. Because it’s not a movie that takes place in New Zealand necessarily, but if you’re going out on the ocean, a country that’s an island is a good start. They have a lot of ocean. And they have a lot of ocean sensibilities here so we were able to take advantage f the water here, shoot out on the water here, and take advantage of the crews. But a green screen’s a green screen, no question about it.

I suppose it’s only going to happen more and more?

JT: It started by happening in the States. Just getting out of LA and shooting in New Mexico or Atlanta or New Orleans, you know, and a lot in Canada. But the rest of the world is developing as well. And now with the influence and the demands from China, I’m sure we’ll be going there a lot more and shooting there, even if it’s not a Chinese oriented movie, I’m sure they’ll develop their – I hate the word – infrastructure. So we can shoot there as well.

We just saw a previous scene which was basically you [Jason] packing a bag and running.

JT: Wasn’t it awesome?! [Laughs]

It was the best packing a bag I’ve ever scene!

What was the context of the scene?

JT: Jason’s character had just finished giving a stirring and monumental speech to some of the peoplle in the film and had retired to his state room to pack so he could leave. And they’re talking about the fact that the shark is way down at the botto if the ocean. And at the end of his packing, they start feeling a trembling in this deep sea base in the middle of the ocean which makes it pretty clear that shark may not still be at the bottom of the ocean. And his character Jonas runs off to make sure the station, and more importantly the people in it, are okay.

How exciting is it to be aiming and China and have a Chinese lead? And Jason, your last movie did well in China. How exciting is it to be getting bigger in China?

JS: For me, I’ve always had an attachment to Chinese action stars and you know they’ve been sort of an inspiration to me for years. Bruce Lee was one of my faourites, my brother had posters of him on the wall. So the fact that I’m sort of getting to make movies that are doing well over there no is a massive feather in my cap really because you know the first time I got to work closely with the talents of real action choreographers was with Cory Yuen when I did Transporter 1 and they have such a gift for that kind of genre. And it just sort of stuck with me, I thought ‘this is the sort of stuff I want to do’ and we just get really lucky there, you know. I think it’s an indication of, when you make a movie, it doesn’t necessarily have to reach everyone’s palette. In different countries different things do really well. Just because they don’t do so well in America doesn’t mean it’s not a good movie somewhere. So I’ve had a lot of success in Russia, in turkey, places that really endure some of the films that I’ve ended up doing over the last few years so it’s quite encouraging. You know, Jon said it the other day, every time you make a movie you try your best and hope it sort of hits somewhere and hope it make a few dollars and it allows you to do more and it means that people like what you’re doing and that’s really important that they do. [Laughs.] So to have a bit of a pump from China recently is great, because it’s somewhere that I’ve got quite close to my heart with movies I wanna make in the future as well.

JT: And you spend years making movies in the States thinking ‘wow there’s 1.5 billion people who will never see this.’ And that’s not true anymore.

And India as well.

And India. And they’re still hanging out – It’s interesting. They didn’t have closed doors so much as they made enough movies they didn’t need our movies and tastes were a little different. That’s now growing and of course the internet is opening a lot of that up. I don’t think there’s anything better for a planet or for any group of people than to have shared culture. The more you share your culture the more you have in common the more you have to relate. The more you share your stories and your myths and your morality plays and all of that the closer we all get and the more we have in common. So we’re not just making movies to hold hand and hug each other, but that is one way for the world to become a smaller place. Chine is become really a third of the film industry for revenue making the US a third – the US used to be two thirds its now one third. Not that the US has gotten smaller, it’s just the rest of the world has caught up. And so it’s exciting and I know the business people in Hollywood are excited because that means more money. But we love it because it means more types of things to make movies about. Knowing there’s a huge Chinese audience means ‘oh, now there’s interest in Chinese stories, Chinese actors, Chinese sensibility that we would have ignored before.

Jon Leaves. Jason Stays.

You do so many action films. Do you have a structure of what you do to stay so fit?

Not really. I’ve always kept myself in decent shape because I know they’re going to ask me to do something that will require a bit of preparation. I’ve done so many now over the years, I think if you just turn up without an injury, that’s a big plus because a lot of the skills I’ve learnt to do – whether it be with a gun, whether it be some kind of fight sequence or driving – I’ve sort of had tons and tons of hours to do that kind of work. So it’s not like I need to go and learn a new skill. i think as you get a bit older you realise what’s required and you know what you have to do, and I think a bit of self maintenance comes in more in the downtime. When you start on a movie, if you haven’t done the work that’s your own problem, you know. It’s in the months leading up to it is where you sort of try to fix things that are broken. [Laughs].

We often see you playing a tough, gangster type. Is this role a bit of a change of pace for you? Do you play the hero?

It’s funny because I haven’t done a movie without sort of brandishing a gun or jumping in a car or you know hitting someone around the head for a long long time! I mean it requires a physicality for sure for this role because he has to put himself in harm’s way for the greater good of everybody else. So it’s a really great heroic role. I think a lot of the stuff I’d learnt in my earlier years would allow me to feel confident in some of the stuff that we have to do in the water and under the water because Its quite complicated a lot of the stuff that we’re doing. how we fight the shark – I’m not going to give stuff away, but you have to be really confident under the water without air [laughs.]

Do you get to punch a shark in the face?

I’m not saying! No, there’s no fisty-cuffs with Meg.

On those difficult days is the little kid in you…

It’s great! Action films, they’re really good fun! You get the adrenaline rush, the heart races, and you get to do things and you have to focus. When you’re doing a drama it’s a different thing, but when you have to physically perform you have to tune everything up. Everything has to be coordinated and you have to really believe in yourself and focus and i think it’s overlooked a lot. For me – I’ve said this before – the people I get inspired by, people like Jackie Chan and Jet Li and people that do a lot of their own physical work, and I think that really gets me ‘wow, these guys can really do that’. And I try to sort of pride myself on doing as much as I can and the by-products of that is you get a good kick out of doing it. It’s enjoyable work.

While he’s out of the room, what’s it like working with Jon?

He’s a complete card. All he does is like trivialise his ability and I think he just lets everybody relax you know. He’s goofing around all the time he’s messing around and he doesn’t take himself seriously and it reminds me about what you said about – Guy Ritchie has a similar sort of atmosphere. He’s always cracking jokes he’s always – and I think everyone just sort of relaxes when that’s in place. I tend to like that environment and Jon seems to work well with that. And yeah, it’s everyday there’s no pressure though. But hey, underneath that goofing around he knows exactly – he’s got a shot list and he gets everything done that he needs to do and he’s he gets the days done. So he’s really smart, but the attitude is that’s he’s not smart but he really is. And I think it’s just he likes to enjoy himself and have a good time.

So you’ll be doing loads more Meg movies with him?

If this one works out and people go see it yeah of course

“The Meg” is released next week.

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Caffeinated Clint’s Ten Favourite Films of 2018

And also his least favourite films of the year!

Caffeinated Clint

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I don’t know that it was a great year for movies – in fact, most of the films I’d been anticipating bit me like a leech on the testicle – but that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t some tasty meat in between the pellets. For every “Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom” there was a “Blackkklansman”, and for every [Insert Amy Schumer Movie Title] Here there was “Boy Erased”. Studios stuck to the recent norm of putting style over substance when it came to their tentpoles, leaving so many of the hotly anticipated and unyieldingly-promoted fare from the likes of chafing disappointments, but those major independent labels and artistic auteurs more than made up for any bugs in the system, smearing MacAfee virus removal all over the marquee with their distinct, diverse and surprisingly unique offerings.

The year’s biggest surprise  – if only because it was a project that had been simmering away for the better part of fifteen years, losing director after director, leads after leads – was undoubtedly “A Star is Born”, which not only introduced audiences to ‘up and coming’ actress Lady Gaga, whose name will now be firmly cemented in cinema as much as it’s been in music, but also tyro director Bradley Cooper, who took on a discarded Eastwood project and put his own unique and powerful spin on it. Sure, it’s a story we’d seen time and time again (in fact, this is the fourth version of “A Star is Born”), but it was the chemistry of the leads, those dynamite performances, and the emotion carved into the libretto that kept critics and audiences hooked.

Like Cooper, freshman director Joel Edgerton also hit it out of the park this year with his turn behind the camera – “Boy Erased”. What a film that was. Just sublime. Powerful stuff.

On the no-surprise front, the always-dependable “Mission : Impossible” franchise continued to impress – is it the only series that actually improves as it goes on!? – just as much as its headline act, Tom Cruise, does with the most entertaining, most skilled blockbuster of the year “Fallout”. Featuring a killer turn from Henry Cavill as its hulking villain, eye-popping stunts and action sequences, and endless reminders why Tom Cruise is still the most bankable box-office star of our times, sixth time was the charm for the now 22-year-old movie franchise.

If one genre had the monopoly on the ‘best of’ list this year it was the family category, with everything from Paramount’s “Bumblebee”, Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, and Sony Animation’s “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” all topping most live-action fare when it comes to sheer storytelling, allure and uniqueness. Seems the computer maketh some awesome filmeth!

Also very solid, the superhero movie fare of 2018 – sure, there were the fun, enjoyable time-passers like “Deadpool 2” and “Aquaman” but at the top end of the scale were some truly magnificent pieces, like the ground-breaking and exceedingly breathtaking “Black Panther” from Marvel.

Bearing in mind I’m still to catch up with quite a few movies that have made most Top Ten lists (including “If Beale Street Could Talk”, “Green Book”, “Suspiria” and “First Reformed”) here are my top ten favourite movies of 2018 :

 

A Star is Born

Mission : Impossible  – Fallout

Boy Erased

Blackkklansman

A Quiet Place

Black Panther

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Avengers : Infinity War

Game Night

The Incredibles 2

 

Runners-Up : Annihilation, Bumblebee, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse, Ant-Man & The Wasp

 

And, for me, these were the least enjoyable films of the year…

 

Tag

Super Troopers 2

Holmes & Watson

I Feel Pretty

Truth or Dare

Oceans 8

Skyscraper

Gotti

The Predator

Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom

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Apparently Sinbad stars in the new Aladdin?

Don’t worry, he’ll be a Man in Blue come summer 2019

Caffeinated Clint

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The Fresh Prince of Blue Heir.

Disney have unveiled a first look at Will Smith’s Genie from the upcoming live-action (in case you haven’t heard, that’s the latest thing Disney have dampened their undies for lately) ‘Aladdin’, and I gotta tell you, it is absolutely beautiful to see such full those hearts at Christmastime… as evident in social media responses.

For the record, and if it helps with the eye chafing, the character will be ‘blue’ in the finished film. Mike Lowery said it himself. In other words, the movie is going to be the shizzle. All it needs is a blue genie, after all. Right!?

Some other pics from the upcoming flick are below, but first, a new photo from Disney’s upcoming “Lion King” adaptation – here’s Mufasa.

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We’ve got your first look at Deadwood the movie!

First pics feature Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant; executive producer talks storyline

Caffeinated Clint

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Sayin’ questions in that tone and pointin’ your finger at me will get you told to **** yourself.

Christmas comes early for “Deadwood” fans with the first pics from the long-awaited film version – releasing – hitting the online distraction service today.

There’s Ian McShane, hardly aged a day, looking as devilish as ever as saloon owner Al Swearingen, and also our first look at a slightly older but even slightly more distinguished Seth Bullock, now a U.S Marshal, played by Timothy Olyphant.

Also returning from the HBO series : Molly Parker (Alma Ellsworth), Paula Malcomson (Trixie), John Hawkes (Sol Star), Anna Gunn (Martha Bullock), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter), Brad Dourif (Doc Cochran), Robin Weigert (“Calamity” Jane Canary), William Sanderson (E.B. Farnum), Kim Dickens (Joanie Stubbs) and Gerald McRaney (George Hearst).

They’ve been yakking about a movie version of “Deadwood” for quite some time – in fact, near as soon as the show was cancelled, at the conclusion of its third season. It’s taken a number of years to get together, largely because of cast scheduling, but the photos above prove it’s finally a reality.

”Tim was pretty tough. I will say he really dug in — in a good way, not a stubborn way — with good thoughts on where to take his character and the story and kept pushing on that, and they were helpful thoughts in terms of getting the script where it needed to be”, the film’s EP Carolyn Straus tells EW.

Series creator David Milch scripted the film, which airs sometime next year. It will reportedly be about time taking it’s toll on people.

“If you ask David, it’s about the passage of time”, says Straus. “The toll of time on people. It’s mellowed some people and hardened others. And it’s about the town’s maturing and becoming part of the Union and what that event sets in motion, in a very personal way for the people that it brings in town and what ensues. The toll of time has not just struck Deadwood and the characters but all the people making it as well, you get to see the faces of people 12 years later. And it was really profound. Actors were crying at the table read — not necessarily from the script but the emotion of being back and doing something we all loved doing so much. You normally have a great experience and then it’s over. You don’t normally get the chance to do this in life. It was kind of a gift.”

Swearingen has endured a lot since we last saw him, says Straus.

”The time has taken its greatest toll on Swearengen. He’s the person who really drove so much of the life of the town and there’s a sense of that power waning somewhat, and what ensues of that is a big part of the story.”

There was originally talk of two “Deadwood” movies – which Milch had said would wrap up the storylines left dangling after the series annulment – but at this stage, even if we only get the one, it’s one more than I think most of us assumed we’d ever get.

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