Welcome to the House of Crouse. C’mon on in, settle into a comfy chair by the fireplace and meet Cobie Smulders and director Uwe Boll. Cobie has been in action movies a plenty, but she’s rarely part of the action. That changes in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. She talks about it hear. Then Uwe tells us why, after making thirty movies, the critics won’t have him to kick around anymore. Join us. It’s more fun in here than it is out there!
Richard and CP24 anchor Stephanie Smythe have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the up-close-and-personal action of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” the supernatural thrills of “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” the spy comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses” and the new Canadian indie “Mean Dreams.”
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the up-close-and-personal action of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” the supernatural thrills of “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” the spy comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses” and the new Canadian indie “Mean Dreams.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Morning Show with Bill Carroll to talk about the weekend’s big releases, the bare knuckle action of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” the supernatural thrills of “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and the spy comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses.”
Cobie Smulders has been in action movies a plenty, but she’s rarely part of the action. That changes in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
Opposite Tom Cruise, Smulders plays Major Susan Turner, a decorated solider accused of espionage. To prove her innocence she teams with Jack Reacher in a battle for the truth.
“I was really excited about doing some action scenes,” says the Canadian born actress who played former director of the planetary intelligence service S.H.I.E.L.D. Maria Hill in various Avengers movies as well on television.
“I’d done some quote, unquote action movies before, through The Avengers and the Marvel Universe. I’d be part of some of their stuff but I missed out on most of the fun fight sequences. Jumping on this, I knew I would get to do more fighting, hands on, rather than standing next to the superheroes while they do all the fighting.”
She has more than her share of up-close-and-personal battle sequences, bare knuckling her way through the story at a breakneck pace, but were the scenes as fun to shoot as she thought they would?
“That’s a great question because sometimes they are not,” she laughs. “They are quite technical and they can drag on. When it is fast and intense, they’re really fun because it’s like an adrenaline rush. It’s like doing a choreographed dance with somebody. But when they drag on and it becomes about the minutia of like, ‘We have to do the insert of the picking up of the meat tenderizer and we have to do it from this angle and that angle,’ it takes the magic out of it.”
A magical experience or not, Smulders, who will next be seen in the action comedy Why We’re Killing Gunther opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, says the scenes helped her performance.
“For me all the training and all the fighting helped me get into the character,” she says. “There were days when I would push past breaking points and think, I can’t take this anymore, and then I would go further. It got easier and easier. It was really painful at first but I always kept that in the back of my mind, what this woman would have had to go through, and what women and men in the military have to go through.
“I think anybody who decides to enlist in the military and do all the work it takes to become a major is somebody who is much stronger than I will ever be.
“She’s a woman we say has graduated Ranger School. When we started shooting the movie that hadn’t happened yet; no women had graduated from Ranger School. Then during the shoot the first two women graduated. If I am playing a woman who can endure that type of training, then this should be like a piece of cake, what I’m doing on set.”
Cruise and Smulders play a sort of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a deadly duo who never allow romance to get in the way of their appetite for bodily destruction. Their relationship is a mix of Roadhouse style fighting and humorous rom com dialogue.
“To not have these characters get together romantically,” Smulders says, “was more interesting to watch than having a love scene in the middle of the movie.”
Who exactly is Jack Reacher? If you are a reader, he’s the protagonist of twenty books by British author Lee Child. If you’re a moviegoer, he’s a bone crunching former Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps who looks a lot like Tom Cruise. According to the new movie “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” he’s “the guy you didn’t count on.”
When we first see Reacher it’s four years after his exploits in his eponymous debut film. With the help of Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) he has just broken up—and beaten up—a ring of smugglers. When he arrives in Washington to thank her, and possibly wine and dine her, he is shocked to discover she’s been court-martialled, accused of espionage. His efforts to get to the bottom of the case suggest she was arrested because she had a hard drive with sensitive info. “What did you expect,” he’s asked, “a picture of her in a Burka and having drinks with the Taliban?” After a daring prison break, he and Turner hit the road, trading quips and punching faces with a deadly ex-military hit man (Patrick Heusinger) hot on their trail. Their efforts to clear her name and uncover a far-reaching conspiracy are complicated by the presence of Samantha (Danika Yarosh), a fifteen year old who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter.
The addition of a kid changes the dynamic of the film. The first Reacher movie was a fun but violent ride, designed to keep fans of Cruise’s actionman persona happy until the next “Mission Impossible” instalment came along. It was an old fashioned movie, the kind of flick that Steven Seagal might have starred in circa 1992. It was a bare-bones action movie and predictable but Van Dammit, taken for what it was, it was also a bit of fun.
The movie rips along at a fast pace, bareknuckling its way through the story at a breakneck pace. Cruise and Smulders are sort of a Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a deadly duo who never allow romance to get in the way of their appetite for bodily destruction. Their relationship is a mix of “Roadhouse” style fighting and cutesy rom com dialogue.
It all adds up to an action movie for those who like a dose of sentimentality with their spinal injuries.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Morning Show with Andrew Carter to talk about the weekend’s big releases, the kick-ass action of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” the supernatural thrills of “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and the spy comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses.”
As the calendar moves ahead to 2016 I’m taking a moment to think back to the great people I met, wrote about or chatted with on television in 2015. I shared Tim Bits with Liev Schreiber—he liked the chocolate, I preferred the glazed—inhaled Johnny Depp’s vape fumes, had a “Sock Battle Supreme” with Anthony Daniels—Mr. C-3PO—and was embarrassed to order a Chai Tea Latte while standing next to Chris Cooper at a coffee bar. On stages, in hotel rooms, on phones and even in the back of taxis, they spoke and I listened. Here’s some of the best stuff I heard this year:
GEORGE MILLER: “I don’t think I’d be the filmmaker I am unless I had that medical education, in two very direct ways. Both of them have a lot of problem-solving in there. But the most important way is that as a doctor you are looking at people in extremis from many points of view. You look inside of people. You see people during birth and death and so on. Through microscopes — a lens. So you’re looking from many, many points of view. That’s exactly what you do in cin ema. Huge wide shots with massive crowds or you’re looking right down inside someone’s brain, someone’s head.”
AMY SCHUMER: “I never thought about being famous. That was never part of my thing, but once it was on the horizon as a possibility, it seemed like a real bummer. I could see there’s no upside. The upside is I sometimes get free appetizers and I can get a reservation at a restaurant. I only go to one place in New York, it’s a tea place, the Tea Cup, and they don’t take reservations but I can make a reservation there. I swear I don’t see another upside. It sucks.”
PHYLLIS SMITH: “I worked for JC Penny in the warehouse tagging the merchandise,” she remembers. “I used to stand there and tag thousands of fishing lures or bowling balls or roller shades, which were heavy as heck to lift around. The people were great to work with but the merchandise was a little challenging.
“I used to stand there, thinking about life, wondering what it is we all have in common because we’re not all given the same opportunity. Some people’s health is impaired when they’re born while others are charmed with intelligence or looks. I thought, ‘There has to be something that we all have. A commonality.’ I figured out that it’s the ability to love. We all, in some form or another, want to love and be loved. That was my big revelation. My lightbulb moment. Also, if you’re standing on a concrete floor, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes or you’ll pay for it later.”
CAROLL SPINNEY: Caroll is President Obama’s ninth cousin, but Big Bird isn’t political in the least. “Big Bird, I’m told by the owners of him, does not have political opinions. I thought of an idea that would get around that problem if someone (ever asked about it). ‘I don’t know who that is,’ he says in Big’s voice. ‘I thought we had a king.’ In most fairy tales, lands are run by kings or queens.”
DEBORAH ANN WOLL: A quick Internet search turns up many adjectives used to describe Daredevil star Deborah Ann Woll; gorgeous, talented and cute to name just a few.
The redheaded actress uses other terms to describe herself.
“There’s nerd, geek, all those words,” she says. “I am settling closer and closer to dork. I am a very proud dork.”
The former True Blood star — she played fierce teenage vampire Jessica Hamby for seven seasons on the hit show — embraces her inner dork — “I’m Dungeons and Dragons player, a Mystery Science Theatre buff. I like board games.”
She says the role playing games have benefits beyond entertainment value.
“Something like Dungeons and Dragons or a board game is a way for me to be social but it takes some of the responsibility off of me myself. If I don’t feel impressive as myself, I can feel impressive as Mistress Pyrona, the Genosi Sword Maiden. Like my acting, it gives me a little bit of support.”
JAKE GYLLENHAAL: “I think the people I admire as artists are the people who really listen to themselves even if it is to the detriment of what people might consider success. I’d rather be myself and do what I love than listen to someone else and follow that role and be unhappy.”
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER: My favourite line from any interview? Christopher Plummer talking about the dog in “Remember”: “We had two dogs on set. One to do the stunts and the other just making money.”
BRYAN CRANSTON: “I don’t want to portray this idea that I’m just about the art. I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich and rich is better.” Also: Bryan Cranston told me he likes to go up to people wearing the Heisenberg t-shirts they wore on the show Breaking Bad and talk like Walter White… “Nice t-shirt,” and I whisper if to them and their eyes go wide and I put my finger to my lips, like ‘Don’t tell anyone… if you tell people, they won’t believe you.’
SAOIRSE RONAN: Saoirse is an Irish or Scottish name meaning freedom roughly pronounced SEER-shə. “I get very confused about my name all the time,” she said in a recent sit-down. “Sometimes I look at it when I’m writing it down for people and I go, ‘This is actually a ridiculous spelling of a name.’”
ADAM MCKAY: “We wanted to be the first Wall Street movie that took you behind the curtain, that really said, All these confusing terms you hear, all the ways the banks make you feel stupid or bored … it’s actually not that hard. If the guy who did Step Brothers can understand it you can too.”
RYAN COOGLAR: “Whenever I had a big test at school or a football game (my father would) say, ‘Take 10 minutes and watch this scene from Rocky. That’ll get you fired up. That’ll give you the juice to score five touchdowns. Or get an A on that test.’ I’d look over and think, ‘Are we watching this for me or for you?’”
ANTHONY DANIELS: Having one of the most recognizable voices in movie history can lead to some surreal moments. Just ask Anthony Daniels. He’s played C-3PO in all seven Star Wars films, including this weekend’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and once rented a car with a very familiar voice on the GPS.
“I felt uncomfortable with me —very clearly — giving me instruction for something I didn’t know. I found it quite bizarre. I was driving thinking, ‘This is unnatural.’”
TIFF: The Toronto International Film Festival is only ten days but it looms large on my schedule every year. This year, in addition to watching dozens of movies and doing interviews for Metro, “Canada AM,” “NewsTalk 1010” and others, I hosted a bunch of press conferences, including, “The Martian” – with Ridley Scott, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal (#JakeQuake), Our Brand is Crisis with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and Black Mass with Johnny Depp. They were some of the highlights of the fest for me… and unfortunately provided one of the low points. Read on… and once again Sean Bean, I’m REALLY sorry.
METRO: An insider’s look at TIFF: Behind the scenes with Richard Crouse
Ever wondered what it’s like to rub shoulders with celebs?
The backstage room at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s press conference area is a beehive of activity.
“Is George here yet?”
“Is that Johnny vaping in the corner?”
It’s a place where no last names are necessary and the star wattage is blinding. Actors, directors, publicists and gofers mingle while air kisses, handshakes and Hollywood hugs are exchanged.
This year the Toronto International Film Festival is mounting 11 press conferences featuring everyone from Matt Damon and Sandra Bullock to George Clooney and Keith Richards.
I’m hosting four of them — Demolition, The Martian, Our Brand is Crisis and Black Mass — with, as MGM used to brag, “More stars than are in the heavens.”
Despite the buzzy nature of the events, backstage is a casually chaotic place where actors get caught up with one another before taking the stage.
Matt Damon made the rounds, glad-handing with his The Martian cast mates, many of whom he hadn’t met because he spent 90 per cent of his of screen time alone, stranded on Mars.
The business of the press conferences happens on stage. Moderating these things provides a fascinating glimpse into both sides of the publicity machine.
Ideally the press conferences are a reciprocal event: Reporters ask questions to actors and filmmakers they might not otherwise have access to, and in return the stars get publicity for their films. It’s a pretty simple but often unpredictable transaction.
Gone are the days of the legendary “journalist” who asked all her questions in rhyme, but for every sensible inquiry about the movie, there is inevitably another off-the-wall query that leaves panel lists either annoyed or scratching their heads.
At the Our Brand is Crisis conference someone asked Bullock about her character’s grown-out roots. The Oscar winner replied as best she could and when she finished, Clooney chimed in, “Aren’t you glad you asked that question?”
Later she shut down a silly query regarding how she keeps her bum as toned as it is in the film. “It’s so sad that you just want to talk about the butt,” she said, before tersely adding that leg lifts are the secret to posterior pertness.
Not that the attendees are the only ones to pull a gaffe or two. During the Demolition conference, I asked Chris Cooper a long, rambling question about his character. He seemed genuinely perplexed, and you know what? I was, too. Sometimes you can overthink these things.
Later at The Martian presser, there were 13 people on the stage, everyone from Michael Pena to Damon, Scott, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jessica Chastain, and in the shuffle I made the horrifying mistake of forgetting to ask the great Sean Bean a question and didn’t realize it until we were out of time.
Who doesn’t acknowledge Lord Eddard Stark?
Me, idiotically. Next year I promise to go to him first and frequently.
What would you do if Robert De Niro cut short your conversation with a quick, “I’m not doing this, darling,” and exited? If you’re Radio Times journalist Emma Brockes you write about it and watch your article go viral.
As unpleasant as the encounter may have been — he objected to the “negative inference” of her questions, she called him condescending — it did exactly what it was meant to do, generate buzz for De Niro’s upcoming film The Intern.
Who won? I’ll give the edge to Brockes who, when faced with a bad situation, turned De Niro’s lemons into lemonade and earned just as much press as the touchy actor.
De Niro took some blowback for his behaviour. Daily Mail columnist Piers Morgan wrote, “If I’d been her, I’d have slapped him ’round his smug little chops,” adding the Goodfellas star is “renowned as the rudest, most difficult and frankly obnoxious star to interview, possibly in the history of planet Earth.”
I think Morgan overstates his case. De Niro isn’t the worst — anyone who has ever done a movie junket knows Tommy Lee Jones is the crankiest, most soul destroying interview ever — he’s just a reticent interview, who, according to director Nancy Myers, doesn’t want “to expose himself all the time.”
De Niro isn’t alone in the chat-and-dash sweepstakes. Robert Downey Jr. and Quentin Tarantino bolted on Krishnan Guru-Murthy with the Avengers: Age of Ultron actor later calling the Channel 4 news presenter a “syphilitic parasite.” Robert Pattinson, Naomi Campbell and Russell Crowe have also done runners on the press.
So why submit to promotional interviews at all? Contractual obligation has much to do with it, but beyond that, they’re good for the movie. Daniel Radcliffe, star of Harry Potter, Horns and the upcoming Victor Frankenstein, once told me no matter how famous the actor, anyone who doesn’t get out and pump their film up to the press is making a huge mistake.
As a result everyone does them and while it’s easy to look at De Niro or Downey as spoiled brats, I’m surprised walkouts don’t happen more often.
It must get brutally dull answering the same questions over and over, particularly when they are of the “Of all your leading ladies who was the best kisser?” variety.
How bad can it get in the interview suites?
Once a talking head proudly told me she wrote new lyrics for Beyoncé’s hit song Survivor… “My name’s Beyoncé/ I’m in Goldmember/ You’re watching blah blah on blah blah blah…” and asked the superstar to sing them as a promo for her television station. If I were Beyoncé I would have exited stage left without a song on my lips.
I remember one “reporter” asking George Lucas “whether Dark Vader was a good guy or a bad guy.” If I were Lucas I would have hitched a Millennium Falcon ride out of there.
Recently I heard Tom Cruise try and answer the question, “What kind of stunt would you do to impress a girl?” If I were Cruise I would have grabbed the side of the nearest plane and jetted out of there.
As for De Niro, Brockes graciously says she has sympathy for him “because nobody wants to be there for these choreographed junket interviews.”
De Niro wasn’t quite as kind, but at least he called her “darling” and not “syphilitic parasite.”