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13 items from 2004


Irons Replaced McKellen in 'Merchant' Film

30 December 2004 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Jeremy Irons wasn't British director Michael Radford's first choice to play Antonio in the new movie adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice, but he admits he was a better choice. The Brideshead Revisited star stepped in to play the Venetian nobleman in the film after Lord Of The Rings star Sir Ian McKellen dropped out due to scheduling problems. And Radford admits McKellen's timing problems helped him find his perfect Antonio. The Il Postino director says, "The thing about Ian McKellen is he's much older, and he's not a movie actor. He became a bit of a movie star, but he's not really a movie actor, which Jeremy Irons is. When Ian dropped out, I suddenly thought of Jeremy. As I thought of him, I thought, 'My goodness me, this actually is the perfect person because he has such a magnetic quality on screen, and he has a kind of melancholy about him." »

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Evans joins 'Magic Roundabout' voice cast

21 December 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- British comedian and actor Lee Evans has signed to the voice cast of The Magic Roundabout, the production company Pathe Pictures said Monday. Evans, currently starring in London's West End production of The Producers, joins a star-studded cast including Jim Broadbent, Ian McKellen, Bill Nighy and Joanna Lumley for the CGI animated feature. »

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Castle Hill examines past with 'Emile' buy

8 December 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Indie distributor Castle Hill Prods. has acquired the U.S. theatrical rights to Emile, a film by Carl Bessai and starring Ian McKellen and Deborah Kara Unger. Emile is described as an exploration of an older man's struggle to reconnect with his past. Bessai served as writer, director, producer and cinematographer. The deal was negotiated by Castle Hill Prods. president of marketing and distribution Mel Maron and Monarch Home Video's Dan Norem. »

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Sir Ian Blasts Will Smith Over Decade-Old Homophobic Stance

22 October 2004 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

British thespian Sir Ian McKellen has blasted Will Smith for remarks he claims were homophobic. The Lord Of The Rings star kept quiet about Smith's comments while they pair were making Six Degrees Of Separation in 1993, but the gay rights icon has decided the Hollywood actor should now account for what he said. Smith refused to kiss another man in the film, claiming it would "gross out" his fans - and McKellen has never forgiven him. He says, "He thought he was saying something very individual but what he was actually confirming was that he's got the disease so many people have - homophobia." Meanwhile, the homosexual star wants gay rights to be respected in Hollywood in his lifetime, because he's sick of stars hiding in the closet. He adds, "There are actors of all ages in Hollywood who lie about their sexuality. It's disgusting and bewildering." »

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'Flushed' toon draws rat pack for voice roles

26 August 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis, who gained international fame as Gandalf and Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, are reuniting for a trip into the London sewers, and Hugh Jackman may be joining them. McKellen and Serkis are lending their voices to Flushed Away, the next comedy from stop-motion animation powerhouse Aardman Animation and DreamWorks Animation. Jackman is in early talks to join the cast. The animated feature centers on a pampered British rat who accidentally gets flushed from his posh penthouse flat into the slimy London sewers. »

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'Flushed' toon draws rat pack for voice roles

26 August 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis, who gained international fame as Gandalf and Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, are reuniting for a trip into the London sewers, and Hugh Jackman may be joining them. McKellen and Serkis are lending their voices to Flushed Away, the next comedy from stop-motion animation powerhouse Aardman Animation and DreamWorks Animation. Jackman is in early talks to join the cast. The animated feature centers on a pampered British rat who accidentally gets flushed from his posh penthouse flat into the slimy London sewers. »

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McKellen tops 'Magic' voices for Pathe Pics

18 August 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- Ian McKellen has signed to voice the wizard Zebedee in Pathe's CGI-animated version of the children's television classic The Magic Roundabout, the company said Tuesday. McKellen joins a voice cast that includes Jim Broadbent, Joanna Lumley and pop stars Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue. Other voices lined up for the Pathe project include Ray Winstone and Tom Baker, a former star of the television series Doctor Who. The movie, backed by London-based and French-owned Pathe Pictures, is scheduled to begin filming in February. The original TV series was created in the late 1960s by French author Serge Danot and adapted into English by Eric Thompson. »

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Emile

9 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Toronto International Film Festival

In "Emile", Ian McKellen plays a retired university professor who travels from England to his long-forsaken hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, to receive an honorary degree.

It's a beautifully modulated performance in a nicely crafted, quietly unassuming character study by Vancouver-based writer-director Carl Bessai. It's the kind of film that's a great fit for festivals but proves to be a trickier sell when it comes to securing distribution.

The third in Bessai's trilogy of films linked to the theme of identity (the others are 1999's "Johnny" and 2001's "Lola", both of which premiered as this one did at the Toronto International Film Festival), Seville Pictures' "Emile" follows its title character as he returns to the country of his birth after a lengthy absence.

Ostensibly, the purpose of his trip is to accept that university degree, but Emile is also hoping to reconnect with the daughter of his long-deceased older brother. Now a single mother with a difficult 10-year-old daughter (Theo Crane), Nadia Deborah Kara Unger) doesn't exactly welcome her houseguest with open arms, and it turns out that she has good reason to feel resentment.

Naturally, it doesn't take much time before all those repressed memories come flooding back, but rather than opting for the standard flashback treatment, Bessai seamlessly weaves the elder Emile in and out of the past as words or images trigger reminiscences, not necessarily sunny, of his childhood on the family farm.

But after a while, the constantly utilized technique grows a bit stale despite Bessai's luminously photographed transitions (he also serves as his own cinematographer this time out). That leaves McKellen's aching portrayal of an old man finally facing his life's regrets as the picture's true special effect. »

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McKellen, Eckhart will say 'Never'

30 June 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Ian McKellen, Aaron Eckhart, Brittany Murphy, Nick Nolte and Alan Cumming are in negotiations for the indie drama Never Was. Marking the directorial debut of writer Joshua Michael Stern, the feature follows a Yale graduate (Eckhart) who gets a job at the mental institution where his novelist father (Nolte) spent the last years of his life. Once there, he meets a schizophrenic man (McKellen) who proves a mysterious link to his father's material. Murphy plays a reporter. Heading for a September shoot in Vancouver, the film is being financed by Senator International and produced by Greg Shapiro (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) of Kingsgate Films, which he runs with Nolte. Sean Hargreaves is in discussions to production design. Senator is handling worldwide rights and working with CAA to set up domestic distribution. Stern is repped by WMA. McKellen is repped by ICM. Eckhard, Nolte, Murphy and Cumming are repped by CAA. Hargreaves is repped by the Skouras Agency. »

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McKellen, Eckhart will say 'Never'

30 June 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Ian McKellen, Aaron Eckhart, Brittany Murphy, Nick Nolte and Alan Cumming are in negotiations for the indie drama Never Was. Marking the directorial debut of writer Joshua Michael Stern, the feature follows a Yale graduate (Eckhart) who gets a job at the mental institution where his novelist father (Nolte) spent the last years of his life. Once there, he meets a schizophrenic man (McKellen) who proves a mysterious link to his father's material. Murphy plays a reporter. Heading for a September shoot in Vancouver, the film is being financed by Senator International and produced by Greg Shapiro (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) of Kingsgate Films, which he runs with Nolte. Sean Hargreaves is in discussions to production design. Senator is handling worldwide rights and working with CAA to set up domestic distribution. Stern is repped by WMA. McKellen is repped by ICM. Eckhard, Nolte, Murphy and Cumming are repped by CAA. Hargreaves is repped by the Skouras Agency. »

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Cruise shows Spirit as awards chair

12 February 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Tom Cruise has agreed to be honorary chair of the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards, scheduled for Feb. 28 in Santa Monica. He will be joined at the event by such celebrity presenters as Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Erika Christensen, Hayden Christensen, Toni Collette, Rosario Dawson, Zooey Deschanel, Andy Garcia, Jeff Goldblum, Jake Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Dennis Hopper, Djimon Hounsou, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, Lucy Liu, Derek Luke, Dylan McDermott, Ian McKellen, Emily Mortimer, Samantha Morton, Parminder Nagra, Mekhi Phifer, Kelly Preston, Mark Ruffalo, Blair Underwood, Mike White and Elijah Wood. John Waters will return as the master of ceremonies. »

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

6 February 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Opens Wed., Dec. 17

NEW YORK -- An epic success and a history-making production that finishes with a masterfully entertaining final installment, New Line Cinema's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" is a soaring legend in its own day and destined to be cherished for many ages to come. "The Return of the King" is the longest and most complicated of the three "Rings" films and probably fated to be the biggest moneymaker. Sure to be an Oscar contender in many categories and a breathtaking argument for director Peter Jackson winning every award there is to give, "King" has none of the usual deficiencies that frequently scuttle third films.

Opening unexpectedly with a flashback to the day when the twisted Gollum was a healthy Hobbit-like fisherman named Smeagol (Andy Serkis), who commits murder to possess the powerful One Ring, "King" deftly resumes the story after the events of "The Two Towers". After a brief encounter with the talking lord of the forest Treebeard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Theoden (Bernard Hill) and other survivors of the Battle of Helm's Deep go to ravished Isengard. Within minutes, we're reintroduced to the many characters, including Hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), Rohan fighters Eomer (Karl Urban) and Eowyn (Miranda Otto), Faramir (David Wenham) of Gondor and the one new human character, Denethor (John Noble), the Steward of Minas Tirith, site of the next great showdown between the mighty forces of evil Sauron and the free peoples of Middle Earth.

Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin), guided by the vengeful Gollum (again a wondrous combination of special effects and Serkis' inspired performance), finally enter Mordor, but the divisive influence of the Ring almost ends the fellowship of the two heroic Hobbits. When the three infiltrators pass by Minas Morgul (the dead city where the Nazgul reside), they watch another army of Sauron march to battle under the command of the Witch-king.

Eventually, this Black Captain of the Nazgul, who rides one of the dragonlike beasts first seen in "Towers", has a fight with Eowyn and Merry in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, outside the walls of Minas Tirith, that readers have been waiting decades to see. It's a gloriously crowd-pleasing moment, while overall the lengthy siege is tremendously exciting and visually unparalleled.

Huge elephantlike Mumakil and trolls pushing the giant battering ram known as Grond join hordes of Orcs in a gargantuan assault on Minas Tirith, a fight which faithless Denethor turns away from when he gives into fear and fatherly pride by sending Faramir to certain death. It's the leadership-tested Gandalf (Ian McKellen) who commands the defense of the city. Although Denethor comes off too as enigmatic compared to the original material, he sure has a spectacular final scene.

Jackson and co-writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh make noteworthy departures from Tolkien, including such crucial moments as what happens when Frodo is finally standing on a ledge over the Crack of Doom inside the volcano where the ring must be destroyed, and how Aragorn makes use of the Army of the Dead that only he can command. Whole swaths of the book have been condensed and eliminated, but Jackson and company usually realize splendidly whatever they take on.

There are only brief moments with the saga's Elvish beauties: Arwen (Liv Tyler) refuses to abandon Aragorn. Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) makes a crucial connection with Frodo near the story's climax. Dwarf fighter Gimli (Rhys-Davies) provides much-appreciated humor with his sarcastic remarks. Fearless Elf bowman Legolas (Orlando Bloom) delivers the best battlefield action, while wise Elrond (Hugo Weaving) provides Aragorn with the restored sword that defeated Sauron long ago.

The thunderous conclusion to the story of the Ring that includes the end of Frodo's journey and the battle outside the Black Gate winds down to a sublime denouement, leaving only 20 minutes to wrap up when Tolkien took a hundred pages. The extended DVD should bind "King" and the other two films into one awesome movie deserving of regular revivals in theaters. But who can resist right now a classic fantasy adventure that never drags and is simply ravishing to look at thanks to the thousands of craftsmen, performers, animals and postproduction refiners?

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

New Line Cinema

Wingnut Films

Credits:

Director: Peter Jackson

Screenwriters: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson

Based on the book by: J.R.R. Tolkien

Producers: Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson

Executive producers: Robert Shaye, Michael Lynne, Mark Ordesky, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein

Director of photography: Andrew Lesnie

Production designer: Grant Major

Editors: Jamie Selkirk, Annie Collins

Costume designers: Ngila Dickson, Richard Taylor

Music: Howard Shore

Visual effects supervisor: Jim Rygiel

Cast:

Frodo: Elijah Wood

Gandalf: Ian McKellen

Gollum/Smeagol: Andy Serkis

Aragon: Viggo Mortensen

Sam: Sean Astin

Gimli/Voice of Treebeard: John Rhys-Davies

Merry: Dominic Monaghan

Pippin: Billy Boyd

Arwen: Liv Tyler

Legolas: Orlando Bloom

Elrond: Hugo Weaving

King Theoden: Bernard Hill

Faramir: David Wenham

Eowyn: Miranda Otto

Eomer: Karl Urban

Denethor: John Noble

Galadriel: Cate Blanchett

Running time -- 200 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

»

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'Cold Mountain' tops BAFA noms with 13

19 January 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- A lovelorn army deserter nosed ahead of large armies of Orcs as Cold Mountain notched up 13 nominations while The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King battled to 12 nominations for this year's Orange British Academy Film Awards announced Monday. Both movies were nominated in the best film, best director, best adapted screenplay, film music and a host of technical categories, with Mountain picking up a duo of acting nominations including actor in a leading role for Jude Law and a supporting actress nomination for Renee Zellweger. Only Ian McKellen from the cast of nominated director Peter Jackson's third instalment of Rings secured an acting nomination for this year's awards. McKellen will vie for actor in a supporting role. The BAFA nominations, presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), were dominated by the two movies with Peter Webber's Girl With a Pearl Earring running a close third with 10 nominations. Following up with a tally of eight nominations apiece were Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation and Peter Weir's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. »

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13 items from 2004


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