Emma Stone explores the limits of herself

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

Emma Stone’s renaissance, Robin Williams bloopers, De Niro punches back, Gotham Awards, and a duel.

Let’s go!


EMMA STONE EXPLORES THE LIMITS OF HERSELF

From a generic love interest to the queen of absurdism, Emma Stone finds solace in stretching the limits of herself.

In her latest work, Poor Things (new international trailer), she plays Bella, a re-animated woman who emerges like a tabula rasa (blank slate) a la Frankenstein’s monster.

Discussing her character, she explained:

“Bella was the most joyous character in the world to play because she has no shame about anything. She’s new, you know? I’ve never had to build a character before that didn’t have things… put on them by society throughout their lives. It was an extremely freeing experience…”

From a young age, Emma Stone has been in complete pursuit of freedom.

At age fifteen, growing up in Arizona, she accosted her parents with a PowerPoint entitled “Project Hollywood.” In it, she argued for their support to break free from the Southwest and move to Hollywood.

It worked.

She landed her first film role three years later, Superbad (2007), which led to a series of simple love-interest roles, Easy A (2010), Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011), The Amazing Spider-Man 1, 2 (2012, 2014).

Her first endeavor into more serious dramatic work was granted by Alejandro González Iñárritu in his 2015 Academy Awards best picture winner, Birdman (2014).

It wasn’t until 2018 that Emma Stone’s full potential was unlocked by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite (2018), where she plays an 18th-century maiden who sinks to great levels of depravity to seduce the queen for her personal gain.

In their second collaboration, Poor Things, Lanthimos entrusted Stone not only with the lead role but also as a producer.

Stone stated:

“It was so interesting to be involved in how the film was being pieced together, from cast to department heads to what have you.”

Stone built not only the interior life of her character, Bella, from scratch but also the film itself. In both, her approach was defined by unfettered joy.

Stone’s ability to infuse her characters, be they generic or complex, with nuance parallels her own artistic maturation. Poor Things is a masterclass in the human condition, as only Emma Stone could bring.

The film is out in the US (Dec 8) wide release (Dec 22) and in the UK (Jan 12).

For More:

The classic Emma Stone scene in Superbad (clip).

“You don’t even have a Facebook page!” Emma Stone let’s Michael Keaton have it in her first Oscar-nominated performance in Birdman (clip)

Emma Stone overflows with gratitude as she accepts the Academy Award for Best Actress in La La Land (clip).


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

SAG-AFTRA releases their 129-page Memorandum of Agreement. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Dec 5th deadline to ratify the agreement
  • Contract not final until signed by SAG-AFTRA & AMPTP
  • Nov 9th – June 30th, 2026, new contract dates, if ratified.
  • Two prominent members have criticized the agreement, citing AI concerns
  • Talent agents are disgruntled over the new residual structure, which effectively cuts them out

This last point stoked fears that small and medium agencies would be unable to support themselves in developing new talent.

Amazon Studios is accused of violating the new WGA contract. Two months after the 148-day writers strike, writers’ rooms all around Hollywood are in full swing (Grey’s Anatomy, Yellowjackets, Family Guy). But many of Amazon’s writer’s rooms are still halted, a direct violation of the Strike Termination Agreement.

Amazon canceled three of its shows yesterday, and it appears they are stalling bringing the writers back, which allows them more time to consider axing more shows. Unfortunately the writers of these halted shows remain under contract at Amazon and are unable to apply for new work.

Toy Story 5 greenlight to infinity and beyond. Tim Allen, in a recent interview on The Tonight Show, revealed that Bog Iger reached out to him and Tom Hanks (Woody) about acting in the fifth installment. Allen seemed eager to join when he learned that one of the early Toy Story writers is penning the script.

We hope Pixar can sustain the series for the fifth installment.

At age 93, Clint Eastwood has just wrapped his 42nd feature as director. The film stars Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult, and Kiefer Sutherland.

Warner Bros synopsis reads:

Family man Justin Kemp (Nicholas Hoult) who, while serving as a juror in a high-profile murder trial, finds himself struggling with a serious moral dilemma…one he could use to sway the jury verdict and potentially convict or free the wrong killer.

While Juror #2 is rumored to be Eastwood’s final movie, he is as tough as a mule and may very well be directing into his 100s. The film is slated for release in 2024.

For now, enjoy the most iconic Eastwood scene of all time.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Robert De Niro went full Raging Bull at the Gotham Awards. While presenting the Icon and Creator Tribute, Historical award for Killers of the Flower Moon, he noticed his speech had been edited:

“The beginning of my speech was edited, cut out, I didn’t know about it, and I want to read it.”

He continued:

“History isn’t history anymore. Truth is not truth. Even facts are being replaced by alternative facts and driven by conspiracy theories and ugliness…The entertainment industry isn’t immune to this festering disease…”

He went on to lambaste Florida state textbooks, John Wayne, and the former president.

He finished:

“I’m gonna say these things, but to Apple, and thank them and all that, Gotham, blah blah blah Apple, but, I don’t feel like thanking them at all for what they did. How dare they do that actually…”

It was an epic moment to witness (video). It goes to show you can’t get DeNiro down (Raging Bull clip).

Charles Melton, who acted alongside Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December (trailer), just won the Gotham Award for Outstanding Supporting Performance. According to the NY Times, before this award he’d only received an MTV nomination for Best Kiss (Riverdale, 2017-2023).

In May December, Melton plays Joe (32), Moore’s young husband. Their romance was initiated when Joe was in 7th grade, a scandal that made tabloid headlines. The director, Todd Haynes, discussed Melton’s performance:

“Charles just brought this sense of somebody who was almost preverbal, who was almost prenatal, like you were watching somebody learning how to see and how to speak and how to walk… he was extremely restrained and subtle in what he did.”

Melton spent over 6 hours re-recording his self-tape before sending it to Haynes. This NY Times interview delves into his unexpected connection with Moore that seems to have won him the role.

A new Robin Williams documentary could be made entirely from Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) outtakes. Director Chris Columbus revealed there are 972 boxes, or 2 million feet, of unused footage from the film, showcasing Williams’ masterful improvisational skills. Some of the lines were, of course, too edgy for the film’s PG-13 rating. On set, Columbus needed to set up 4-cameras just to keep up with Williams.

No word yet on a release date, or if Columbus can make the film without the studios sign off, but for now, here are 35 minutes of pure gold Robin Williams outtakes.


AWARDS AND FESTIVALS

The Gotham Awards 2023 Winners:

Best Feature

Outstanding Lead Performance

Outstanding Supporting Performance

Best Screenplay

Best International Feature

  • Anatomy of a Fall (dir: Justine Triet)

Best Documentary Feature

Breakthrough Director

Breakthrough Television Under 40 Minutes


TECH SECTION

AI Synthetic Performers are allowed under the current SAG-AFTRA memorandum agreement. Synthetic performers that copy attributes from human actors would still require permission (e.g. Brad’s smile, Jennifer’s eyes.) But the guardrails against using a synthetic performer instead of casting an actor are lightweight.

The agreement reads:

“Producer agrees to give the Union notice and an opportunity to bargain in good faith over appropriate consideration, if any, if a Synthetic Performer is used in place of a performer who would have been engaged under this Agreement in a human role.”

It’s a slippery slope, and we hope that by the time cost-effective photorealistic synthetic performers arrive in Hollywood, the current SAG-AFTRA contract will be amended.

Watch Michael Fassbender’s digital double in this VFX breakdown from The Killer. Props to Wylie Co VFX studio for their stunning work.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Paolo Sorrentino is a master of mesmerizing, ethereal, and thoughtful cinema. He’s demonstrated this through the years with:

His latest, Partenope stars Gary Oldman. Sorrentino’s director’s statement reads:

“Her long life embodies the full repertoire of human existence: youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering, real and invented fathers, endings, and new beginnings.”

It concludes:

“And by Naples, who charms and enchants, who shouts and laughs, and who knows just how to hurt you.”

Production is currently underway in Capri. No word yet on the release date. But his use of Oldman as talent will hopefully allow this film to garner more recognition than his previous two features.

In the early 2000s, Fawn Veerasunthorn, the director of Disney’s Wish, was a medical student in Thailand. Inspired by the Thai Disney animator Paitoon Ratanasirintrawoot (Pocahontas, The Lion King), she hungered for a career switch to animation (full interview). After contacting Ratanasirintrawoot, she was inspired to leave medical school, move to the U.S. for art school, and persist through multiple years of Disney rejections until her hiring in 2011. Veerasunthorn advanced in Disney Animation Studios, contributing to Frozen (2013) and Moana (2016), leading the Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) animation team.

She’s now co-directing Wish (trailer) with Chris Buck, a film celebrating Disney’s 100th anniversary and the power of…wishes.

Steven Spielberg’s daughter, Destry Spielberg, is set to direct her first film, Please Don’t Feed The Children.

BK Studios plot summary reads:

A gang of orphans travels to the south in quest of a new life after a viral outbreak decimates the adult population of the nation, only to find themselves at the mercy of a psychotic woman who is hiding a perilous secret.

Giancarlo Esposito (Gus, in Breaking Bad) is set for a role. It appears as if Destry Spielberg’s predilection is tilted towards horror. Check out her most recent short (link to full film); it demonstrates good instincts.

Although it seems like Destry Spielberg is moving into a genre her father never explored, Steven Spielberg’s first two TV movies were actually in the horror genre (Duel, Something Evil).


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Anatomy of a Fall won the Gotham Award for Best International Feature and Best Screenplay. Arthur Harari, the co-writer, shared director Justine Triet’s process:

“Working with her makes it impossible to allow any mediocrity, she’s aiming at something so high and so true you cannot rely on the easy way… this whole thing was about trying to be true, and at the same time, it’s impossible to get just one truth. It was impossible it was a paradox… I now understand she [gave] me a gift by proposing to write this film with me, and I want to thank her with love for that.”

The film also garnered this year’s Palm d’Or at Cannes. It’s a brilliant meditation on deception, love, and truth (trailer). Harari’s second speech, when accepting the best screenplay, was considerably stranger.

The New Zealand director Lee Tamahori (Die Another Day) is going back to his roots with an Australian and New Zealand co-production for his new film, The Convert.

Brouhaha Entertainment’s summarizes the film:

A lay preacher who arrives at a British settlement in 1830s. His violent past is soon drawn into question and his faith put to the test, as he finds himself caught in the middle of a bloody war between Maori tribes.

Guy Pierce stars as the preacher. The trailer looks epic, violent, and a tad convoluted. But overall, it’s all carried quite well by Pierce’s V.O. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. US/UK release date TBD.

Finnish film fund conquers with $109M raise. To date, IPR.VC Fund has made strategic partnerships with A24 and XYZ films, financing:

Andrea Scarso, who previously worked as an investment partner for Ingenious Media (Judy, Crimes of the Future), has just come on as a partner and investment director.

The fund seems to be leveraging the success of their earlier investments in the TV, animation, and the internet to create high-quality prestige content, possibly capitalizing on attractive Finnish tax incentives and cheaper production costs.


ON THIS DAY

1932. Groucho Marx performs on the radio for the first time.


Happy Tuesday. See you tomorrow.


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

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