Interview: Sam Worthington gets a second chance to play mythological action hero in “Wrath of the Titans”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Sam Worthington goes Greek again for ‘Wrath of the Titans’
The action star of “Avatar,” “Terminator: Salvation” and more relished the chance to build a better hero when he reprised the role of the mythological demi-god Perseus in the “Clash of the Titans” sequel.
LOS ANGELES — Having reclaimed his sword, sandals and mythological monster-slaying moxie, Sam Worthington feels grateful for his second chance to bring a better action hero to film fans
The Australian movie star, 35, reprises his role as the Greek demigod Perseus in “Wrath of the Titans,” the successor to the critically scorned 2010 blockbuster “Clash of the Titans.” Opening Friday, the monster- and myth-packed sequel gave Worthington an opportunity to improve on the “generic, bland, bald-headed action thing” he created for his initial “Clash.”
“I personally kind of don’t like what I did in the first one. I think I dropped the ball. I let down the audience … in the sense of I created a character that wasn’t really a character,” Worthington said during an interview earlier this year at the Four Seasons Hotel.
“He was a conduit for the story. That was it. He could’ve been played by anybody. … So in this one, I was so lucky to get a second chance, to go, ‘All right, let’s scrap Perseus. Let’s decide what kind of man he is. Let’s try to think what he’s been doing. Let’s try to create a character that an 11-year-old boy or a 30-year-old woman can look at and go “Yeah, I like that person and I want to go on this journey with them.” And (let’s) not distance the audience by being generic.’”
“Wrath of the Titans” picks up Perseus’ story 10 years after he killed the gruesome Kraken at the end of “Clash.” In the intervening decade, the hero has tried to live a quiet life as a fisherman and single father to his 10-year-old son Helius (John Bell). But a battle for supremacy is intensifying between the gods and their monstrous forefathers, the Titans. When Perseus’ father Zeus (Liam Neeson), the ruler of the gods, is betrayed by his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and captured so the Titans can drain his power, Perseus must swap his fishing net for his warrior’s sword.
“I think it’s amazing. I think it’s awesome. Love it. I think it’s got big-(expletive) monsters and a lot of heart this time,” Worthington said of the sequel.
“My job is to satisfy an audience. That’s how I look at it. So I don’t kind of go into projects frivolously because that lets down the people that work hard and pay money to see my ugly head. I think that’s disrespectful.
As expected, “Wrath of the Titans” features a variety of mythological nasties, from the double-bodied demon fighters called Makhai and the fire-breathing, multi-headed hybrid beast the Chimera to the towering one-eyed Cyclops clan and the gargantuan lava-oozing chief Titan Kronos. But Worthington said director Jonathan Liebesman (who replaced “Clash” helmer Louis Leterrier) put as much importance on building the father-son aspects of the story as on creating computer-generated special effects.
“It’s great when … you start seeing them (the effects). Like when I watched it, there were certain sections that weren’t done. So when the boys are fighting and when Liam’s fighting, he’s throwing things like this and there’s nothing coming out of his hands; he just looks like he’s dancing. So when they showed me that after it’s put in, it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s so much more incredible,’” Worthington said, imitating Neeson tossing out Zeus’ trademark lightning bolts.
“But if you take away all the CG, you’ve gotta just have a great story. The problem with some of these movies is you take away the CG, you’ve just got blah. What we did with ‘Wrath,’ we definitely sat down and went, ‘Well, what’s its essence?’ And the essence is that it’s a movie about fathers and sons and the responsibility that means. Plus, you throw in monsters and the Greek mythological background. That’s cool; that just adds to the blockbuster aspect. But essentially if that father and son kind of section isn’t right, you’ve got (expletive)-all. So that’s what we set out to do.”
Despite his fit appearance, the “Avatar” and “Terminator: Salvation” action star said he was mindful of the 10-year gap between the stories when he reprised the part of Perseus.
“He’s been a fisherman for 10 years, so it hurts to ride the horse now, he’s not very good with the sword, and when I run I’m out of breath,” Worthington said.
“My girl watched it, and … she goes, ‘You run really funny.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She goes, ‘Well, you’re out of breath; you’re uncoordinated.’ I said, ‘Hey, easy. Ease up,’ and she went, ‘No, it’s good. He hasn’t been doing nothing for 10 years. It’s a great choice.’ Little does she know I was just (expletive) exhausted,” he added with a laugh.
“But he’s a character you go, ‘Yeah, I like Perseus.’ He’s a memorable character now.”
A version of this column appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Documentary ‘Bully’ heads into theaters unrated
BAM column: The Weinstein Company is standing up to the MPAA and rejecting the MPAA’s controversial R rating for the advocacy film.
The Weinstein Company is standing up to the Motion Picture Association of America when it comes to its “Bully.”
The studio announced this week that it will release its powerful new documentary unrated rather than accept the MPAA’s controversial R rating for “Bully.”
“Bully,” which will open in New York and Los Angeles theaters Friday, has been at the center of a media firestorm since the MPAA rated it R, limiting it to mature audiences because of strong language. The Weinstein Company argued persuasively that the movie warranted the more lenient PG-13 rating, since every curse word in the film is uttered by an adolescent bully caught in the act of bullying.
“After a recent plea to the MPAA by ‘Bully’ teen Alex Libby and The Weinstein Company Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein failed — by one vote — to get the film its deserved PG-13 rating, TWC is choosing to move forward with releasing the film unrated by the MPAA,” the company said in Monday’s announcement.
“Furthering proof that the R rating for some language is inappropriate for a film that’s meant to educate and help parents, teachers, school officials and children with what’s become an epidemic in schools around the country, the fight against the rating continues on. The outpour of support by politicians, schools, parents, celebrities and activists for the film’s mission to be seen by those it was made for — children — has been overwhelming.”
More than 475,000 people have signed Michigan high school student and former bullying victim Katy Butler’s petition on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower the rating. The petition has been backed by TV personality Ellen DeGeneres and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and actors Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep also have joined the battle to grant the documentary a PG-13.
Alex Libby, one of the adolescents whose experiences with bullying are chronicled in the film, is on the receiving end of most of the swear words hatefully uttered in the documentary. After seeing the film, I was moved to throw my support behind him and the ratings protest: After all, the harrowing advocacy film was rated R because it unflinchingly shows bullies doing what they do: using profane and cruel language to intimidate their victims.
As I said in my previous column on this topic, the MPAA doesn’t need to shield children from this kind of language; those who have been victimized by or witnessed bullies in action have undoubtedly heard it firsthand. Protecting kids from seeing a film that’s working hard to protect them from the actual acts portrayed in the film seems wrongheaded.
“The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real. It’s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it’s up to the theaters to let them in,” said “Bully” director Lee Hirsch in Monday’s announcement.
The Weinstein Company’s marketing president Stephen Bruno said in the announcement that the studio will work to ensure that youngsters still get to see the film even though it will enter the marketplace unrated.
“The kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do what’s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves. We’re working to do everything we can to make this film available to as many parents, teachers and students across the country,” Bruno said in the announcement.
Major theater chains have traditionally treated unrated films similarly to those rated NC-17, often declining to show movies without ratings. However, Regal Cinemas, the country’s largest theater chain, announced this week that it plans to play the movie but treat it as an R-rated film, meaning children younger than 17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to see it.
And AMC Theaters intends to make an even bigger exception for “Bully.”
“AMC Theatres will permit guests younger than 17 who want to see the movie without a parent or guardian to do so if they provide a signed permission slip,” according to a statement on AMCTheatres.com, where families can download a permission slip.
“AMC Theatres believes people of all ages can benefit from the message of this film. That’s why we are allowing all guests to experience the version of this film that is not rated.”
While the Parents Television Council immediately decried AMC’s decision in particular, warning in a statement that “showing unrated content is a threat to the continued viability of the ratings system,” I applaud the theater chain for recognizing the importance of “Bully” in changing the school and societal systems that continue to allow bullying to thrive.
Although no Oklahoma release date has been announced for the film, two of the five bullying victims portrayed in the documentary are from the Sooner State, so seeing “Bully” should be a particular priority here.
As a mother of three and an adult who endured bullying as a youth, I believe “Bully” should be required viewing for every student, parent, teacher and administrator in the country. Hopefully, parents will still see it and take their children to see it even if it doesn’t have the curse-counting MPAA’s dubious stamp of approval.
A version of this review appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
“My Week with Marilyn”
Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams manages not to just glow but to shine a light on the shadowed soul of a screen icon in “My Week with Marilyn,” the latest movie to indulge in film fans’ ongoing obsession with Marilyn Monroe.
While Williams and co-star Kenneth Branagh earn their Oscar nods, director Simon Curtis’ sleek but slight days-in-the-life biopic isn’t nearly as memorable as it should be, nor is it in any way capable of living up to its lofty billing as a revealing, previously untold chapter in the often-examined life of the world’s most enduring sex symbol.
After all, the film is adapted from not one by two memoirs by Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who was 23 and eager to break into the movie business and away from his prominent family when he schmoozed his way into a job as third assistant director of the 1957 film “The Prince and the Showgirl.” The movie is best remembered for its unlikely pairing of Sir Laurence Olivier (Branagh), who directed and played the male lead, a role he had originated on the stage, and Monroe (Williams), who was appearing in her first and only movie outside of America and was one of the film’s producers, along with the actor-director.
The matchup was a disastrous clash of personalities, cultures and, most importantly, egos, and the most compelling moments of “My Week with Marilyn” depict the battle of wills between the arrogant, aging and often-infuriated Olivier and his mercurial, spoiled and troubled co-star. Branagh, who earned his second acting Oscar nomination playing his idol, eagerly gobbles up scenery, his portrayal bordering on caricature as his Olivier rages about Monroe, whose erratic behavior drives him to furiously quoting Shakespeare but whose captivating charms entrance him just as surely as they do Colin.
Williams, who received her third Academy Award nod, goes beyond mere mimicry; she legitimately manages to make you forget that she isn’t the movie legend, who was at the height of her career but nonetheless suffered from a deep sense of insecurity, a growing pill addiction and a painful miscarriage during the production.
Curtis recruits a stellar cast to play out the onset drama, including Dame Judi Dench as Marilyn’s supportive co-star Dame Sybil Thorndike, Zoë Wanamaker as Monroe’s indulgent acting coach (and Olivier’s nemesis) Paula Strasberg and Julia Ormond as Olivier’s sharp-eyed wife and former co-star Vivian Leigh.
Instead of letting the acting heavyweights duke it out, Curtis and writer Adrian Hodges insist on framing the story from the perspective of Colin, whom Marilyn seeks out as an ally, confidant and admirer during a break in shooting. Although the role dominates the film, it gives Redmayne little more to do than fawn and marvel over Marilyn, something that Hollywood and movie-goers are clearly more than capable of doing without an onscreen cipher.
Extras: A 20-minute bio featurette about Monroe and Curtis’ audio commentary.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Dr. John “Locked Down” (Nonesuch Records)
Dr. John is one cool and unusual cat: Rarely do you see a skilled session musician transform himself into veritable musical witch doctor; plus, he has the rare distinction, along with the late Keith Moon, as a performer colorful enough to inspire a Muppet who also boasts the talent, creativity and influence to land a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The New Orleans singer/songwriter/musician again concocts some strange and wonderful musical alchemy with “Locked Down,” his debut on Nonesuch Records. As the cover art of Dr. John in one of his flamboyant Mardi Gras headdresses indicates, his new album flashes back to the late 1960s and his “Night Tripper” era, with an unapologetically funky, often tribal sound. But “Locked Down” also boasts a decidedly fresh, contemporary vibe under the guidance of producer Dan Auerbach of popular blues-rock revivalists The Black Keys.
Auerbach and the musical practitioner also known as Mac Rebennack are the sonic equivalent of another New Orleans-inspired combo: shrimp and grits. You probably never would have thought of it yourself, but it proves awfully tasty once you sink your teeth into it.
Due out Tuesday, the album was recorded in Auerbach’s studio, Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, Tenn., with the Black Keys singer/guitarist hand-picking the young players. Dr. John’s spicy stew of New Orleans R&B, zydeco, boogie woogie funk and psychedelic rock is clearly the main dish, but Auerbach serves up a distinctive and appealing foundation for it.
The album opens with the title track, with the sounds of exotic birds, creepily chanting backup singers and Dr. John’s atmospheric organ setting the mood. He brings a “Gris-Gris” sort of groove to the politically pointed “Revolution,” and his signature growl is as gravelly as ever on the cynical anthem “Ice Age.” The Grammy winner even croons in Creole on the eerie track “Eleggua.”
Just as the Muppets never really went away but recently returned to their rightful place as pop culture treasures, it’s a primal thrill to hear the inspiration for colorful puppet bandleader Dr. Teeth return to the musical forefront.
Best Bets for March 30-April 1, 2012: Doobie Brothers, “Spring Awakening,” “The Magic of Music” and Jason Boland & The Stragglers
Here are my picks for the top events happening in the Oklahoma City area this weekend, as listed in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
1. NORMAN — Let your children march in a Disney costume parade and hear University of Oklahoma students perform selections from “Fantasia,” “Fantasia 2000” and more at “The Magic of Music” multimedia concert at 1:45 p.m. Sunday at Catlett Music Center, 500 W Boyd. Information: 325-4101 or www.ou.edu/fjjma.
2. Listen to Harrah native Jason Boland & The Stragglers at 9 p.m. Saturday the Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan. Doors open at 6 p.m. Information: 601-6276 or www.wormydog.com.
3. Watch Lyric Theatre stage the Oklahoma premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical “Spring Awakening” at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at Lyric at the Plaza, 1725 NW 16. Performances continue through April 14. Information: 524-9312 or www.lyrictheatreokc.com.
4. NORMAN — Hear The Doobie Brothers at 8 p.m. Friday at Riverwind Casino, 1544 W State Highway 9. Information: 322-6464 or www.riverwind.com.
Today’s featured event:
NORMAN – Check out the more than 200 art and crafts booths, food concessions, games, educational exhibits, crafts demonstrations, costume contests, strolling minstrels and a variety of stage performances at the 36th Annual Medieval Fair at Reaves Park, 2501 Jenkins Ave.
Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today-Sunday. Admission is free. Parking is available for $5 at the Lloyd Noble Center on Jenkins Avenue, one block south of the park.
To read my fine colleague Jane Glenn Cannon’s preview of the event, click here.
For more information, go to www.medievalfair.org.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Organizers of the Norman Music Festival announced on Facebook today even more performers on two different stages for this year’s event.
The fifth annual free event is set for April 26-28 in downtown Norman.
So far, the festival will include Main Stage headliner Portugal. The Man and Jack Daniels Stage headliner Hayes Carll.
Also, Tulsa’s funky Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and self-proclaimed American band Red Wanting Blue will be featured on this year’s Main Stage. Other bands scheduled to perform on this stage include Weekend Hustler, Rainbows are Free, Crown Imperial and Modern Rock Diaries. Stillwater art-pop band Other Lives, who have been touring this year with Radiohead, will appear on the Main Stage, too.
Along with Carll, the Jack Daniels Stage will include The Giving Tree, Parker Millsap, The Damn Quails, Alejandro Escovedo, Krystal Keith (yep, daughter of Toby), Possum Posse, and Camille Harp and John Calvin.
Here are the performers announced today:
Dreamer Concepts Studio & Foundation / Anty Shanty Stage
Friday, April 27
Midnight – Amen Dunes
11pm – El Paso Hot Button
10pm – Dikes of Holland
9pm – Depth & Current
8pm – Bloody Knives
7pm – The Purple Church
6pm – Psychotic Reaction
Hip Hop Showcase at the Red Room
Saturday, April 28
11pm – Bungalouski
7pm – Brother Gruesome
6pm – Fishboy
5pm – Economy
4pm – The Pizza Thieves
3pm – Skating Polly
2pm – Limp Wizurdz
1pm – Regg
Red Room Stage
Saturday, April 28th
The NMF5 Hip Hop Showcase
8pm – Jabee
7pm – Josh Sallee
6pm – Yung O
5pm – aDDLib
4pm – Behind the Bleachers
3pm – L.T.Z
2pm – MuGen (Music Genius) Crew
TULSA – KISS and Motley Crue are uniting to launch “The Tour” of 2012. Billed as the summer’s biggest, baddest rock tour, the joint trek will visit more than cities nationwide starting July 20, and include a stop at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Sunday, Aug. 26.
Tickets will go on sale to the general public at noon Friday and will be available online at www.bokcenter.com, Arby’s Box Office, all Tickets.com outlets, or by calling (866) 7-BOKCTR.
Tickets are $39, $59, $99 and $127.
With combined album sales of almost 200 million, KISS and Motley Crue remain dominant powerhouses of rock music, tallying 30+ chart-topping hits, numerous sold-out tours and awards and accolades from around the world. Known for their elaborate and spectacular stage shows, each band plans to give fans the ultimate summer concert experience with the most impressive lighting and sound production ever and their signature over-the-top pyrotechnics.
This is the first time KISS and Motley Crue will share a stage since 1982.
KISS consists of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. Motley Crue consists of Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee.
KISS is a rock juggernaut, with 3,000 licensed merchandise products, including the KISS golf course in Las Vegas and a new album. KISS has broken box office records set by The Beatles and Elvis.
Motley Crue is the first rock band in history to have just completed an epic sold-out Las Vegas residency at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The band is best known for continuing to reinvent not only their live show (with mind blowing elements such as Tommy Lee’s 360 drum roller coaster) and music (with a new song due out this spring), but remain on the cutting edge via social media interaction. Crue’s New York Times bestselling book “The Dirt” is currently being adapted into a major motion picture. Last month, the band was featured in one of the highest rated Super Bowl ads of all time for the KIA Optima.
KISS remains one of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll. As one of America’s top gold-record champions, KISS has released 44 albums and sold more than 90 million albums worldwide. Decades of record-breaking tours around the globe have included high-profile appearances at Super Bowl XXXIII, the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Rockin’ The Corps concert dedicated to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and special guest appearance on the 2009 American Idol finale that boasted 30 million viewers and a 2010 Dr. Pepper Super Bowl commercial and advertising campaign in support of their Hottest Show On Earth tour.
The KISS legacy continues to grow, generation after generation. The unparalleled devotion and loyalty of the KISS Army to the “Hottest Band in the World” is a striking testament to the band’s unbreakable bond with its fans, and just one of the reasons KISS was nominated for induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. KISS is currently in the studio recording “Monster”, the followup to their 2009 chart topping album “Sonic Boom” and preparing for a soon to be announced major world tour starting in summer of 2012.
For more information, go to www.KISSonline.com and follow the band on Twitter @KISSonline
About MÖTLEY CRÜE
Hailing from Los Angeles, the quartet—Vince Neil (vocals), Mick Mars (guitars), Nikki Sixx (bass) and Tommy Lee (drums)—has commandeered the rock pantheon for over 30 years. In that time, they have accumulated worldwide album sales exceeding 80 million, seven platinum or multi-platinum albums, 22 Top 40 mainstream rock hits, six Top 20 pop singles, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Grammy nominations for Best Hard Rock Performance, a New York Times bestselling memoir, and countless sold out gigs across the globe, playing to millions of fans
For more information, go to www.motley.com. Follow the band: @thevinceneil, @MrMickMars, @nikkisixx, @MrTommyLand
TULSA– Dennis Miller has anchored Weekend Update, won Emmys as a talk show host, acted in films, called the plays on Monday Night Football and shared his political views on numerous platforms. On June 9, the comedian will perform at The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Tickets start at $35 and go on sale April 26.
For more than two decades, Miller has been entertaining audiences with his views on American culture, current events and politics. He currently hosts a syndicated radio show that streams online, performs stand-up and is a regular contributor for “The O’Reilly Factor” on the FOX News Channel.
Miller’s big break came in 1985 when he was cast as the Weekend Update anchor on “Saturday Night Live.” Following a six-year run on the variety show, Miller went on to host the critically-acclaimed half-hour live talk show “Dennis Miller Live,” which aired for nine years on HBO. The show earned Miller and his writing staff five Emmys.
The 58-year-old has appeared in numerous movies, including “Disclosure,” “The Net,” “Murder at 1600,” “Joe Dirt” and “What Happens in Vegas.”
Miller has authored “I Rant Therefore I Am,” “The Rants,” “Ranting Again” and “The Rant Zone,” which have all been New York Times best sellers.
For more information about Miller, visit www.dennismillerradio.com.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa is located off of Interstate 44 at exit 240. Ticket prices and information on upcoming shows are available online in The Joint section of www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com. All guests must be 21 years of age or older.
Video: “The Voice” contestant Adley Stump starts web-based reality series “Get Stumped” spreading kindness
Tulsa native, Nashville recording artist and former member of Team Blake on Season 2 of NBC’s “The Voice,” Adley Stump, has taken her unbridled enthusiasm and passion for making people feel good to her unique and exciting new project “Get Stumped!”
“Get Stumped!” is the Oklahoma State University graduate’s new web-based reality series.
In the show, she practices “Stumping,” or humorous random acts of kindness that, up until now, have been performed on strangers, but now are being taken straight to her biggest fans.
Stump is asking for fans to write in, to tell her their story. She wants to know:
How would you like to be “Stumped” by Adley?
What is your biggest dream?
Is someone in your life struggling and needs a leg up? (or is it you…?)
Is a loved one sick and a “dream day” could make their life just a little bit easier?
What is it that thing that could take your life to where you wished it was?
And how can she help?
Fans are being asked to write to Stump for a chance at being “Stumped” in the show. Stories and submissions can be sent to GetStumpedShow@Gmail.com
For more information on “Get Stumped,” go to www.adleystump.com.
Like many country music fans, I was utterly charmed by the sassy blonde’s big voice and winning personality on “The Voice” and very disappointed when Shelton decided to send her home in the very first battle round. It’s great to see her up to something good: