Al Pacino’s Apprentice

This article first appeared as a daily newsletter. To receive these direct to your inbox every morning sign up to The Industry Newsletter!

Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Jeremy Strong’s 2nd Roy, Anya Taylor-Joy’s missing arm, Marky Mark’s docs, and a Malaysian Playboy.

Let’s go!


JEREMY STRONG’S 2ND ROY

Jeremy Strong is set to play one of the slimiest people in American history—the lawyer Roy Cohn.

Cohn served as a prosecutor in the 1951 Rosenberg spy trial, which led to the Rosenbergs being executed for treason, and as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the anti-communist and anti-homosexual witch hunts. He ended his career by mentoring a young Donald Trump before dying of AIDS (Cohn was a closeted gay man).

Two decades ago, Al Pacino played Cohn in the HBO TV adaptation of the play Angels in America. Watch Pacino in this wild “enzymes and acids” scene to get a taste of Cohn’s personality.

Strong’s new project is The Apprentice, a mentor-protege story between Cohn and Trump (played by Sebastian Stan) that charts the rise of an American dynasty.

Strong’s casting comes as no surprise. His portrayal of Kendall Roy in Succession showcased his ability to embody characters who are wicked and driven by a mix of ambition and self-doubt. This dichotomy echoed in Cohn’s life—a man clawing for power while hiding his true self.

Strong’s approach to acting (which he has been both chided and praised for) sheds light on his choice of roles.

Discussing his performance in the Succession finale, he remarked:

“I felt a complete cessation and stoppage of my life force, and an extinguishing of any hope left in me and in my life. The only possible thing to do, it felt, to me, was to try to die.”

Strong realizes his art through suffering. The closer he is to the pain of death, the more enlightened and fulfilled he feels by a role.

In The Apprentice, Strong will likely channel this intensity into portraying Cohn’s final days—denying his sexuality and his illness, even as he lay dying in a hospital bed, still making executive phone calls.

Jeremy Strong’s career is marked by an unflinching readiness to explore characters who, blinded by power, seek pain and self-destruct.

For More:

“My father was a brute.” In a long line of world-class acting in Succession, Strong’s eulogy of his father (scene) stands amongst the best.

Where’s My Roy Cohn? This Sundance documentary is a lacerating portrait. Trailer here.

Jeremy Strong wins an Emmy for Succession, pandemic style.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Amazon alleges that Joel Silver, producer of The Matrix, has been fired from an upcoming Jake Gyllenhaal film, Road House. Silver, who produced Die Hard (1988) and The Nice Guys (2016), was notably in the room in 1998 during the iconic two-hour-long Matrix pitch where the Wachowskis detailed their entire film with painted storyboards, discussions of Buddhism, William Gibson, and Kierkegaard. Fast-forward to 2023, Silver was apparently livid when Amazon executives tried to finish Road House during the strike using AI, and then again when Amazon denied the film a theatrical screening. Amazon claims Silver was verbally abusive. No word yet on who won the fight.

No release date has been set, but check out a jacked Jake Gyllenhaal throw a mean punch.

Morgan Stanley CEO becomes Disney board member. In a move that is almost certainly a result of the sharp losses faced by Disney this year (-$2B & -11.7M subs), CEO Bob Iger is in need of some help. Enter James Gorman, longtime CEO of Morgan Stanley.

One of the existing board members remarked:

“In the 14 years that James has been CEO of Morgan Stanley, he has overseen a strategic transformation of the institution and delivered significant shareholder value, and was integral to Morgan Stanley’s well-managed succession process over the past year.”

In the continual corporatization of entertainment companies, it should come as no surprise. Let’s hope they don’t “continue to lose shareholder value” and start a fire sale with their IP.

A Malaysian Playboy that funded The Wolf of Wall Street and partied with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, and Paris Hilton had been siphoning massive sums of money from a Malaysian fund earmarked for re-investment in the country. $700M, to be exact.

The story, which was initially broken by the NY Times in 2015, is now the subject of a Netflix documentary, Man On the Run (trailer). The greed and corruption are not atypical, but the level to which the facade of foreign money swindled A-listers is surprising.

Releasing on Netflix on Jan 5th.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

What a lovely day for Anya Taylor-Joy. Soaked in sweat with buzzed hair and a grizzled metal prosthetic arm, Taylor-Joy plays the title role in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (trailer). Charlize Theron previously portrayed Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). This new Mad Max film feels like the pre-ordained evolution of Taylor-Joy’s journey into near-silent cinema acting. Bursting onto the scene in Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2015) and returning for his film The Northman (2022), she continually exhibits a tough, ethereal quality. Mad Max is a different universe, soaked in octane and ferrous dirt with unforgiving post-apocalyptic warriors chasing after you at every turn.

We will ride eternal, shiny, and chrome on May 24, 2024 (US theatrical release date) and May 22nd, 2024 for the UK.

Mark Wahlberg is a great documentary producer. His show McMillions on HBO, about the McDonald’s monopoly scam, is a zany and brilliant true-crime series (trailer). His company, Unrealistic Ideas, is currently filming their latest docu-series for HBO about a USC football player turned drug kingpin.

An Unrealistic Ideas executive described the project:

“This is a working-class guy who worked hard to get into USC and then used the business skills he gained through his education there to create a global drug empire. We’re looking to explore how that happened and how it all fell apart.”

The project is in pre-production.

No word yet if Wahlberg plans to adapt any of these docu-series for fiction, but there’s a gold mine of interesting roles where he might re-discover his passion for acting.

Jennifer Garner is back to body-switching. No, it’s not a body dysmorphia film; it’s Family Switch, a light-hearted holiday tale with Ed Holmes playing her husband where the married couple switches bodies with their son and daughter. The trailer is loads of fun. It falls into the 13 Going on 30 (2004) genre of film, where a thirteen-year-old wishing to become older wakes up in Jennifer Garner’s adult 30-year-old body.

In an era where it seems the generational gap between parents and children is cleaved wider by technology, this film gets to the emotional heart of the issue—empathy. It’s a little cheesy but also deeply resonant. Grab some homemade popcorn, Netflix released the film yesterday.


FESTIVALS

The Intro to Financial Wellness workshop, sponsored by Actors Federal Credit Union (chaired by Annette Bening- see this welcome video), is a single-session program aimed at helping performing arts professionals understand and manage their finances. It covers budgeting, especially with variable incomes, common financial challenges in the entertainment industry, and strategies for financial stability. This two-hour workshop, a prerequisite for more advanced sessions, is designed specifically for creative professionals to establish a foundation in financial wellness.

The workshop begins at 1 pm EST on Tuesday, Dec 5th. Reserve a free spot here.


TECH SECTION

Meta AI launches characters, including Tom Brady and Snoop Dog, who take on the celebrity’s likeness and tone as your “personalized” assistant (Meta video). Gavin Purcell, former EP of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, warned:

“The Facebook’s and the YouTubes are trying to get people onboarded with what they see as the next UGC, user-generated content world, which is this AI stuff.”

Not the most tech-savvy description but a few dire scenarios are detailed here. Suffice it to say the SAG-AFTRA AMPTP contract isn’t deterring the rise of AI celebrity characters.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Jamila Hunter has joined Macro to lead their TV division. MACRO – Founded by Charles King, the industry-leading indie producer that champions films by Black people and persons of color:

This expansion into television (most recently with They Cloned Tyrone) is a continuing trend of indie film production companies crossing into the TV vertical.

Hunter, who has held executive roles at OWN, NBC, and 20th Century Fox, remarked:

“I’ve admired Macro since Charles founded the company. The mission statement and brand perfectly align with the stories that I am compelled to tell.”

We wish her the best of luck on the upcoming Macro TV project, Dawn about a woman who teams up with a group of aliens to help resurrect the human race centuries after a nuclear war.

From Breaking Bad to Chernobyl and now WME. Johan Renck, the Emmy-Award-winning director, gained attention for directing three episodes of Breaking Bad, notably Mas (S3 E5), where in a major turning point in the series, Gus seduces Walt to continue cooking Meth with a brand new lab.

Quote of the episode:

“A man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it.”

Clip here.

Renck just leveled up by getting signed by WME. It’s good timing, too. His new feature, Spaceman, stars Adam Sandler as a Czech scientist working to become the Czech Republic’s first astronaut—release date sometime in 2024.

Sam Green is obsessed with sound. The Academy-nominated director (The Weather Underground, 2002) teams up with sound designer Mark Mangini (Mad Max: Fury Road, Dune) to plunge us into a sonic world. The synopsis for 32 Sounds reads:

[A film that] explores the elemental phenomenon of sound and its power to bend time, cross borders, and profoundly shape our perception of the world around us.

32 Sounds is an aural dreamscape full of harmony and cacophony in equal measure, exploring the world’s sounds, including a poignant moment featuring the voice of Green’s late brother from an old answering machine (trailer).


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

The female Narcos Netflix show we’ve been salivating for. Griselda. Queenpin. Innovator. Mother. Columbian Killer. Walks with swagger and doesn’t flinch when being shot at. She’s hawking Coke left and right across Miami, contending with gangster after gangster, but it is her machismo confidence that makes her a boss. A complete career heel turn and a dark, gritty role for the usual comedy character actress Sophía Vergara. It’s kind of insane to see Gloria from Modern Family mowing down a dude with an Uzi in the trailer. Maybe this will be her McConaissance?

Releasing on Netflix on Jan 5th.

BBC hacker drama greenlight. The People v Gary McKinnon is based on what the US government has called “the biggest hack of all time.” And it was done by a Scottish computer hacker in his London apartment who wanted to find out more about UFOs. Once he realized that NASA and the Pentagon military systems used Windows, he was able to hack in.

He left one note:

“Your security system is crap.”

Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin) is slated to direct. Production will begin next spring.

Director of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux, offers a positive and slightly pretentious view of the future of cinema at the Ventana Sur in Argentina.

Speaking in fluent Spanish about COVID, he said:

“Never in history had the theatres been closed for such a long time. And some questions arose: why is cinema so necessary if it is so easy to watch films from home? What will happen to cinema in the future? As the most prestigious festival, we [Cannes] should have an answer: cinema will go these two ways … cinema will be saved by the artists.”

He went on to discuss social media:

“Cinema will not die,” he noted. “Do you know who invented TikTok? The Lumière brothers with their shorts.”

Frémaux concluded:

“It’s comforting that stars such as Cruise, Nolan, and Miyazaki defend cinema in such a way. I think in the future we will see how theatres and platforms co-exist. People will stay home to see a film, but they will go to theatres for an additional value.”

Amen.


READER SPOTLIGHT

London-based TV and commercials director Leo McCrea is currently directing Antoni Porowski’s new show, No Taste Like Home, featuring top Hollywood guests, for National Geographic & Disney+ with Studio Ramsay.

Leo has been series directing for 15 years and created the style and tone for:

He also runs the series directors job club with Director Graham Proud, where over 100 top series directors share information, recommendations, and job leads. If you’re a director and you’d like to be included in the group, message Leo through his site at www.mccreamedia.co.uk

If you’d like to be featured in our “readers spotlight,” click here for more information.


ON THIS DAY

1903. The Great Train Robbery, the 1st Western film, was released.


Happy Friday. See you next week!


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

 

 

Share the Post:

Other Editions

Become a Film Industry Insider!

Sign up for The Industry!

It’s a curated newsletter read by almost 100,000 film professionals.

We synthesize the latest film & TV news and send it to your inbox every morning. 

It takes less than 5 minutes to read.

Plus it’s FREE forever.