By Lincoln D. Conway

Eddie Redmayne stars in the latest Harry Potter-related franchise film, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of the Fantastic Beasts run and the 10th in the Wizarding World franchise.

This installment follows Eddie Redmayne’s character Newt Scamander and Dumbledore as they attempt to take down the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Filming took place in and around London, Switzerland and also Paris.

Redmayne is the first and, at the time of writing, only millennial male to win an acting Oscar— which he received for his portrayal of the legendary physicist Stephen Hawking. He also won substantial critical acclaim for his role in John Logan’s play Red at Donmar Warehouse in London in 2009, picking up an Olivier award for best actor in a supporting role. In addition, Redmayne was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to drama.  

In conversation, the 36-year-old is impossibly polite and wonderfully earnest. Though he finds fame and all the accompanying attention at times “weird and disconcerting,” sitting down with the immensely talented actor is an entirely pleasant experience. Brutally self-critical, what continues to worry Redmayne most is his admittedly “dodgy sense” and “lack of imagination.” The sequel again requires extensive work in front of a green screen where the actor would pretend to interact with all manner of computer-generated creatures that would only come to life much later in the visual effects department. Again, as he did with the first movie, he asked to see as many preliminary drawings and storyboards as possible in order to have a clearer mental picture of J.K. Rowling’s magical beasts, even going so far as to ask the lead animator to imitate their way of moving. This new Beasts film is again directed by Harry Potter helmer David Yates.

The 36-year-old lives in Bermondsey, south London, and is married to wife Hannah; they have two children.

STRIPLV: Is there anything as embarrassing for your character as the “mating dance” which happened in the first movie?
REDMAYNE: There was something when it was looking like it could head that way, but I think that it’s been plucked back. So, there are no huge animal cries or noises. There are some moves, but it’s not quite as humiliating. There may be a tracking move or two, and there’s always some sounds! There is a Chinese creature that you see in the trailer, called “The Zo.” So, I was trying to attempt to speak some Mandarin to The Zo, but I think it has been cut because my attempt at speaking Mandarin was so appalling, even though we had this wonderful woman working behind the camera and she was helping me train. We’d literally say one word, but that has been cut!
STRIPLV: If you could play a different role in the film, who would it be?
REDMAYNE: Well, I think “Queenie” is the hardest part. When you’re working with Ally, and you realize that she’s doing about seven different things at the same time, that’s amazing. Try to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. Even if you do that, you’re not even close.
STRIPLV: I believe that you were one of the unfortunate ones who didn’t get to go to Hogwarts to films scenes.
REDMAYNE: Yeah, I was. The rest of us just went and looked, and maybe took an illegal selfie. Maybe. The younger version of Newt Scamander, played by the lovely Joshua Shea, got to go, but I didn’t. So, I may have stolen into the set just to make sure that I got to have a look around just to linger. However, there was this one scene in the film that David Yates wanted to shoot at “magic hour,” which is this amazing 12-minute moment that happens when the sun is setting. We were shooting it in Watford, just outside London where there’s not much sun, generally. So, basically what would happen is that we would shoot these long days on different scenes and then, suddenly, for these 11 minutes we would all schlep across to try to change costumes for this one scene, to try to get this tiny window. And we did that for maybe a month and, err, it’s been cut.  
STRIPLV: I’ve been told that the audience can expect something a bit different from this new film.
REDMAYNE: Well, what is interesting is that the first film introduced you to these new characters and I always thought that there was a sort of “caper” quality to it. Now, what Jo (J.K. Rowling) is doing is making the connective tissue between who those people are and the world that we’re familiar with – it all really begins to tie in. There’s an intricacy and a darkness in the storytelling, which is fun. I found it amazing, so, touch wood the audience will… and I am also looking forward to seeing it. It’s amazing that when you make the films in a vacuum, and you’re just working so hard on telling that story when you get to go to the premiere, you forget how treasured the characters are and also how treasured Jo’s imagination is.
STRIPLV: How do you assess Newt’s time at Hogwarts?
REDMAYNE: He’s an outsider lured to a place that holds such mystery. In many ways, it was the place that always kept him there, not the people, although he has bonded with Dumbledore, obviously. The glimpses that you get of Newt in Hogwarts in this film are that he is certainly the outsider and he still has a passion for his creatures. You’d want to go there, wouldn’t you? Beautiful countryside, Escher staircases, talking portraits and you don’t have to do physics. Through all of this, Newt remains a very capable wizard whose great passion in life is animals. He feels more comfortable in their world than he does with human relationships. He doesn’t connect with people very easily, and he’s not sure why people don’t seem to understand him. But it doesn’t bother him that much because he’s also someone who is very comfortable in his own skin and is quite happy to spend his time with all these incredible animals. He enjoys his solitude.
STRIPLV: We’ve seen you take on some very interesting roles recently that required very specific research into real-life people such as Stephen Hawking and Lili Elbe (The Danish Girl). Remind us how you approached playing Newt?
REDMAYNE: What I love most about Newt is that he is an incredibly passionate guy, and I am the kind of guy who, if I’m focused on something, I am focused on that thing. I also had the opportunity of discussing the character with J.K. Rowling, and she took me through his life and everything about his background that she had worked out in precise detail. Even though I might not have been able to research the character the way I did with Stephen, from right at the start I had a very deep impression of Newt and his world felt very real to me.
STRIPLV: It must be an added task to develop a relationship with creatures that you need to continually keep imagining, though?
REDMAYNE: That’s why I asked David to give me all the artwork and all the designs that the visual effects department had been preparing. I worked a lot with the animators to have a very specific idea about each of the creatures. As an actor, I needed to understand all of that in order to make Newt’s relationships with those animals appear very natural and real.  
STRIPLV: Newt is a wizard. Apparently, you were an amateur magician while you were growing up?
REDMAYNE: I was weirdly into magic as a child and I spent a lot of time working on several tricks that I would perform for my little brother, who was the perfect audience. I remember when I was nine or so my mother would take me to this wonderful little magic shop in central London called Davenports, which was a proper magicians’ shop next to Charing Cross tube station. You could buy anything there - even a box where you saw someone in half! I would buy all my magic props there, and it was like being in a Harry Potter world where I felt like I was a real wizard.  
STRIPLV: You’ve been the subject of immense attention and recognition in the past few years. How do you keep your head screwed on straight?
REDMAYNE: (Laughs) I try to keep everything in perspective. I’m aware that actors often see their value go up and down. I was very lucky to play Stephen Hawking after several other actors had turned the part down and I’m not taking anything for granted.
STRIPLV: How would you describe some of the chaos and constant traveling that comes with demands of the film business?
REDMAYNE: I once made a movie called My Week with Marilyn, in which I play an assistant on a film set. There’s this moment when Kenneth Branagh (playing Lawrence Olivier) turns to my character and says, “Are you glad to have joined the circus?”. Actors are constantly living this nomadic, circus-like existence and you have to adapt to it.
STRIPLV: Now that you’re a fully-fledged wizard, is there any magical power you would most like to have when it comes to parenting?
REDMAYNE: I would like the “sleep through the nighters” spell to be able to sleep through the night. Also the power to get my wife to be on time. I’ve tried everything to stop her from being late including changing the time on clocks in the house, but she’s too canny! She’ll ask me, “why have you changed the clocks?”.




By, Skye Huntington

Initial supporting roles in the likes of The Social Network, The Five Year Engagement and Need for Speed saw her cut her teeth pre-Anastasia Fifty Shades, but these days Dakota Johnson has moved on to new territory. With that heady combo of nudity and S&M successfully launching her into the stratosphere, now everybody wants a piece.
In 2015 she rounded out an ensemble cast that included Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp in the gangster epic Black Mass and she followed that up by holding her own against titans Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton in the psychological drama, A Bigger Splash.

After her first romcom How to be Single, Fifty Shades again made headlines with the Darker and Freed sequels dominating much of her time up until last year.

But now she returns to a fully-clothed project with Suspiria. In the fantasy/horror remake, directed by Luca Gudagnino, darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company; one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare; others will finally wake up.

Away from the big screen, Dakota has been happily dating Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin. She recently admitted to being “very happy” with her love life, with the couple frequently jetting off to the English singer’s Malibu hideaway.
In this interview, she speaks about family, relationships, social media and why she feels freer to be able to explore more artistic film choices.

STRIPLV: Suspiria seems as though it was a huge artistic undertaking for you?
JOHNSON: That line, “When you dance the dance of another you make yourself in the image of its creator.” is really very pertinent, and I felt that in everything leading up to this, the huge amount of research I had to do to make sure I was not only fully equipped for the role but fully respectful of the great dancers and choreographers who had gone before. Suzy is a dancer who has never been formally trained, so that was a challenge to try to represent that in a way. So we had to come at it from a way that would infer and form the way she dances. She comes from it from left field and isn’t conventional, so the complicated influences of the likes of Jefferson Airplane, The Carpenters, Nina Simone are all there, all clashing together, and they play themselves out through their movement.
STRIPLV: Was it a punishing schedule, physically?
JOHNSON: Yes, I had to dance every day for five weeks, and six months leading up to that was regular classes and a lot of research. But the last few weeks were very tough— they really required a lot of patience, both from myself but in those who taught and trained me for that amount of time. It was really intense, and a huge undertaking for me, but to go through that and to really immerse myself in that life and that choreography for so long was such a special thing. It was a real privilege to really take myself into this world.
STRIPLV: You speak in the sense that this was a real education.
JOHNSON: It was— it’s probably the most satisfying thing I have done, for the subject and the story in one sense, but then also for what I had to invest in it to be able to pull off this character. And it carried on throughout the film— it wasn’t just a case of doing the right preparation; I really had to fight to keep learning all the way through, and I guess at the end of filming I was the best I was ever going to be at these incredible forms of expression. It’s a project where you finish it even though, ultimately, wish you could carry it on and take it on a new level.
STRIPLV: You sound entirely moved by the whole thing.
JOHNSON: I was, and I still am. Ultimately now I want others to be moved by it, and if they are then all the effort, everything is absolutely worthwhile. I have said in other interviews that this feels like a real passion project for me, so of course, I value it highly.
STRIPLV: Do you think the very art/horror nature of this film will put people off?
JOHNSON: Well it depends what audience you’re talking about. There are dark, sinister elements and it’s a very complex, slightly disturbing take on relationships and feelings. Of course, it is very arty, and I think that’s important, and yes it won’t appeal to the broadest spread of filmgoers, but at the same time, it’s not supposed to.
STRIPLV: The original 1977 film certainly had a feel of that era, and much of that has been created here.
JOHNSON: Yes, it has, but I think Luca’s ability to shift the whole idea of the film is a masterstroke. There is a very different emotional narrative and what you are looking at here is a much more focused and intensive angle. It’s not as wide in terms of approach, and that extra intensity really comes across.
STRIPLV: Can you feel your film choices evolving?
JOHNSON: Definitely. This is an example of being at a point in my career where I am freer to express myself; perhaps I can take more chances than I did before, and certainly, I can choose projects that I feel I have a real vested interest in and speak to me. That’s very exciting.
STRIPLV: Have you always wanted to follow in your parents’ footsteps?
JOHNSON: It was what I always dreamed of; it’s what makes me happiest. My grandmother, (Tippi Hedren) I have always counted as one of my biggest inspirations; someone whose words in my head can guide me through almost every insecurity or doubt. She has only ever said very simple but very sensible things to me— trust myself and believe in the goodness of others. That still sounds good. She’s also been someone who has pushed the idea of being happy and content in myself— in fact, my whole family has. And to be liberated to enjoy and cherish that time before getting married and having kids because it’s a really special window.
STRIPLV: On that note, do you feel there’s a pressure on people and, in turn, on yourself, to couple up, settle down? Does society look down its nose at single people?
JOHNSON: There is an expectation— maybe on women more than men because of the whole biological clock ticking et cetera, but it’s nothing new; it’s always been there. Getting married and having babies— there’s a certain measure against a woman to do this, and if she doesn’t do it, it goes against what society expects. Relationships, for me, take the same sort of form as a career when it comes to the decisions I made, and that is to say, “Whatever’s in your heart. That’s the only way to go.”
STRIPLV: That’s lovely. Is it entirely realistic?
JOHNSON: Well it’s a very holistic and natural way of looking at things, and perhaps in these days we are too influenced by convention or expectation. What’s the alternative? Is it that side of me that goes, “I love you! I love you, I love you” and leave it at that. But then it would go, “Why haven’t you written back? I love you. Are you coming over?” And then I’d get really intense. “When will we get married? Hello? Are you there?” And then go a little more intense with, “This is too much for me, I can’t handle this anymore.” And then the middle finger emoji. The final text. The middle finger. (Laughs)
STRIPLV: Is that your go-to emoji?
JOHNSON: Thank god they added that one. (Laughs) And that would be it for me, all within five minutes. Less. The way we meet people these days is still very strange. I don’t like it; it freaks me out. I don’t know. I think it’s creepy, uncomfortable. I’m not the kind of girl; I don’t have Twitter or Facebook or anything like that. I am on Instagram, but I do very little on it. I rarely check it out. I take things from quite a traditional, romantic steer. I believe men should be gentlemen. And pay for things. Of course, one day I would like to settle down and have a family. I don’t necessarily believe that two people can stay together for their entire lives. If that happens, it’s magic, but a marriage can also be beautiful even if it doesn’t last forever— people change over time, and sometimes that means you wind up taking different paths. You can love more than one person during your lifetime. The important thing is to be honest.
STRIPLV: Are you comfortable with the idea now of being a movie star?
JOHNSON: More than I was, definitely. I’ve been working so much, so it’s been really busy, but I’m am so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. I get to travel the world a lot more which I love and be in some amazing places with some really inspiring people. That to me is so wonderful, and I still don’t really have the time to dwell on what’s been happening.
STRIPLV: You’ve now worked with some of Hollywood’s greatest actors. Do you still have ”pinch me!” moments?
JOHNSON: Oh wow— Johnny Depp, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, this list goes on, and you find yourself a bit, “What is going on? How did I get here?,” but it’s great.
STRIPLV: Do you feel pressure?
JOHNSON: No, I never really feel that pressure. Was there pressure? (Laughs) Yeah, it’s fine.
STRIPLV: Has fame changed how you live your life?
JOHNSON: Not really no. I pretty much do the same things. But I stay home a lot, and sometimes I get really paranoid about people taking my picture, but gradually that’s changing.
STRIPLV: You’re now very settled in New York City. How are you enjoying the city life?
JOHNSON: I love it. I like that it’s taken me a long time to feel like I live there and I belong there. I feel like I’ve earned that. But I’m happy in the countryside too. I grew up in Colorado in the mountains.
STRIPLV: Do you prefer the city or the countryside?
JOHNSON: I spent my summers growing up in our home in Aspen. I have so many good memories of that time in my life and especially all the wonderful Christmases where the entire family would come together.
STRIPLV: What fascinated you most about the film business growing up?
JOHNSON: The whole thing really— it’s the world I grew up in. I always loved being on a film set as a child, and I knew that acting was what I wanted to do with my life. There was never a moment where I actually decided to become an actress; it was just something I felt deep down. For me, it was like a playground where my imagination could run wild. When my dad (Don Johnson) was working on “Nash Bridges,” I used to spend a lot of time on the set in San Francisco, and I loved it so much. A film set is like home to me. It’s the place where I belong and where I feel most comfortable.
STRIPLV: Do you still turn to your parents for advice?
JOHNSON: I’m my own person now. What I had was a beginning. If you decide to follow in your parents’ footsteps, you naturally feel very anxious about establishing your own identity in the business. Even now, I’m always trying to find good roles where I’m going to be judged on my acting alone and nothing else. My parents have always been very supportive of me but the fact that I’m someone who likes to take things one day has helped me be calm about decisions and things that happen. My parents always taught me to take a careful distance from everything that gets written about you and never let the hype play games with your head. I try to stay very calm. I also grew up knowing what actors go through because of stories that would get written and the paparazzi. I remember going out with my parents to restaurants, and sometimes I would get upset when people would constantly come to our table to shake hands or ask for autographs; although to be fair, I was a lot more upset than they were about it!




By Skye Huntington

Jennifer Garner is a Hollywood A-lister with multiple film credits to her name. She shot to stardom on her successful turn as Sidney Bristow in the hugely successful television series “Alias” written by J.J. Abrams, who wrote the show with Garner in mind. After that, she caught the eyes of Spielberg who cast her in Catch Me if You Can. Then she took one of her more memorable roles in the iconic rom-com 13 Going on 30. Now this Charleston Virginia native is a household name. She’s also returned to her roots by buying her family’s farm near Locust Grove, Oklahoma. She’s cultivating the land to use for her new line of organic baby food Once Upon a Farm.

She’s returning to the action genre again in her starring role in the movie Peppermint. We got the chance to talk with this powerhouse actress about what attracted her to the role, and how she trained to become the badass she is in this project.

STRIPLV: What appealed to you about this project?

GARNER:   I was super excited the first time I read the script for Peppermint. Because it’s an original story, it’s not based on anything, and that just doesn’t happen anymore. It’s with a strong woman in the middle. I’ve felt for a long time I’ve done action before obviously, but I haven’t done it in so long. I kind of feel like it is a missed opportunity because what would you fight for more than your own family? And I’ve never gotten a chance to play a character with that visceral need to defend or protect or take care of someone in your own family.

STRIPLV: Tell us about the movie.

GARNER: Riley’s husband Christopher is a mechanic, and he is working his tail off. But he so desperately wants to give his family what they don’t have which is financial security. Because it’s right around Christmas, it’s their daughter’s birthday, he flirts with the idea of taking a job that would put him with some unsavory characters, and he would be breaking the law. He ultimately decides not to do it but by the time he’s made that decision the unsavory characters on the other end of the transaction have found out about his possibly doing something against them and then they kill him and his daughter Carly on her birthday night. So, my character Riley watches this happen in front of her. She sees the people who kill her family she loses her mind of course. She is herself injured when she comes to; she immediately wants to make sure that those people are brought to justice and are put in jail.

STRIPLV: Riley goes through a drastic transformation in this film. Can you tell us a little about it?

GARNER: She goes into hiding, she shuts down her heart and she spends the next five years becoming a machine with MMA skills, gun skill, knife skills, the ability to stitch herself back together, the ability to set her own bones, the ability to not feel pain emotionally or physically, to get out there and fight for her daughter. On the fifth anniversary of her daughter’s passing which is also her birthday, she just shows up in LA and is ready to do whatever it is that she needs to do avenging the death of her daughter and her husband.

STRIPLV: Were you looking forward to working with the director Pierre Morel?

GARNER: I was super excited when I first read it. I had a great first meeting with Pierre. I had loved his movie Taken. Because I feel like he had infused all of the action and all of the scenes with a sense of drama and realism.

STRIPLV: So what was it like to work with him?

GARNER: Pierre knows exactly what he wants he is very clear and he has a real eye for action, and for the camera. He and I are always on the same page about the realism. Which I love.

STRIPLV: What was it like returning to the genre of action again?

GARNER: I had not shot a fight since The Kingdom, and my first daughter was starting to crawl on that movie. She’s 12 now so that was 11 plus and that’s a long time to hang up your action chops and try to pull it all back together. But I knew that I could do it. I know how to train. I know the discipline you need. And I knew exactly what I needed to do in order to make it happen.

STRIPLV: Tell us what your training was like.

GARNER: I had never trained in boxing. There was a boxing trainer. I saw him every day for a different hour, and I would box with him. And on the weekends, I would do a few hours with the stunt team. They would come over and take me through the paces. That was boxing, kicking, punching, and then slowly a little choreography was incorporated. And on the side, I was also spending time with the Navy Seals at the gun range. I had worked with them before for different films. So, I had a base understanding of how to use a weapon, how to change a mag. But still, for the fluidity of it, it had been a long time. I just needed to get back out there and do a lot of work.

STRIPLV: How did you identify with your character?

GARNER: I think an empowered woman, someone who takes things in their own hands and fights for what she needs to do. In the end, she leaves quite a bit of carnage. It’s not something I would ever want to emulate, but what’s behind it the fact that she is like I don’t need any of you. I’ve got it. I’m taking care of this. I’m a mom. I’m going to do what I need to do. That was what I was really inspired by. And I feel very much the importance of us doing a good job, me doing a good job and of us selling the hell out of this movie so that people come and see it so that we can continue to stories like this.




By Skye Huntington

Just like Colette, the character she plays in her new intriguing biographical drama, Keira Knightley struggled to express herself as a youngster. Unable to read or write to a recognized standard and, although never officially diagnosed by British Dyslexia Association, the actress battled to overcome the learning difficulty her early teens, and acting was the one thing that she found salvation in.

Given no formal training as an actress, Knightley first came to the fame in 2002 movie Bend It Like Beckham, and after completing her studies in English Literature and Political History, further roles – in the likes of Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pride and Prejudice (for which she earned Best Actress nominations at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards in 2006) – saw her installed as one of the UK’s finest acting exports.

After a five-year period during which she worked the stage in the West End while embarking on independent film projects, Knightley returned in The Imitation Game as the cryptanalyst and numismatist Joan Clarke, with Benedict Cumberbatch co-starring as Alan Turing.

Now back in Oscar-winning form, Colette tells the story of a woman – Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette – pushed by her husband to write under his name. Upon the success of her literature, she fights to make her talents her own, challenging gender norms concerning the ability of women to as well as tackling broader gender norms.

Knightley, 33, stars opposite Dominic West in Colette. She is married to former Klaxons member James Righton in May 2013, and together they have a three-year-old daughter.

STRIPLV: What did you learn most from Colette? Playing her, studying her?

KNIGHTLY: Well I loved playing her. It was such a fun, amazing opportunity. You need to play this woman, know who she was – which was a real kind of maverick, a trailblazer. She lived her life the way that she wanted to live it. She lived it unapologetically, she loved who she was, and she had experiences that she wanted to happen. It was almost like she had to make a hole in the world for herself and she did, and I felt very tall when I was playing her. I felt empowered, and that’s what I want people to get when they see it. It’s a really fun film, but ultimately, she’s just cool. It’s lovely portraying that kind of person. That’s the real pleasure of acting. I think all of us, in our own lives, like to live up to an image or an idea or carry ourselves in a certain way. That’s half the fun of what we do in social situations or in being bold, strong or funny parents – there’s a lot of role-play in everyday life, and we all do it. But to play Colette felt like the most fun of them all – a person with so much empowerment and strength, and when you play a character like that you can’t help but allow some of that to rub off on yourself. She is charisma, power, strength, and courage. But, equally, she had this fascinating relationship with her first husband, who took credit for her work. There’s a great biography by Judith Thurman called “Secrets of the Flesh” which was a huge help to me; the film was also an opportunity to dive into Colette’s world and read as many of the novels as possible, which was great.

STRIPLV: What do you like about the period that this film is set in?

KNIGHTLEY: Well, it was a fascinating period, the Belle Époque and there was a sort of sexual revolution going on. In art, in writing, it was an extraordinary time period. But Colette was definitely a rule-breaker, and she lived her life the way that she wanted. The discussion within the film of gender politics, of sexual politics, of feminism, these are the things that we are absolutely still discussing right now. So, that’s why, I think, when I read it I thought: “Wow, this is extraordinary.” You can have something which is set 100 years ago, and yet, we still haven’t figured all of this stuff out. What I will say is they were very different times, but I do admire that era so much, though. In terms of actors, and Hollywood, back then we were allowed our fantasies, and they didn’t have to be sordid, and that’s the kind of place movie stars occupied. They were larger than life and mythical figures. But if you read biographies of stars like Ava Gardner or Bette Davis, they were all alcoholic messes as all actors are meant to be. Today, we want perfection, and yet we want to prove it’s impossible.

STRIPLV: Is there anything that you think you learned about the lead characters which didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie, but you want people to know about them?

KNIGHTLEY: We learned to Polka dance, and we weren’t very good at it, and it didn’t make the film! So, there you go, I did get to do some dancing, but that one got cut out. But I don’t feel like anything else got cut out, actually. I’m also not sure you need to have it as a Blu-Ray extra. But it did break the ice between Dominic and I, so that was good.

STRIPLV: What would say to someone who looked at the poster or watched the trailer and was concerned that it was just another period drama?

KNIGHTLEY: Well, it’s kind of like a Trojan horse of a movie, because you think it’s that and then it just goes right off on another tangent.

STRIPLV: It is crazy how it all aligns, as well. Because you finished filming this before the #MeToo movement really kicked off, so it just feels like such perfect timing.

KNIGHTLEY: You know, the reason that it finally could get made after Wash (Westmoreland, director, and co-screenplay writer) had been trying to make it for 15 years was because, suddenly; just in the last 10 years, we’ve been able to talk about the women’s movement, we’ve been able to talk about feminism again in a way that we hadn’t before that. So, I think that the fact that people were ready to say: “Yes, we’re interested in this topic,” was kind of an indication of where the kind of conversation was going. I mean, yes, obviously I don’t think anybody expected the #MeToo movement to happen in the way that it did and that the conversation would speed up in the way that it has. But it does feel like a very appropriate film for that, but I just think that she’s cool and as a woman, I want to see my heroes. I want to be like: “Ah, I feel inspired and empowered by you,” and I did. I felt like that learning about her, I felt like that playing her, and I hope that people will feel like that watching her.

STRIPLV: Have you ever had a role that just felt – when you look back on it, it really represents where you were at that point in your life?

KNIGHTLEY: No. (Laughs). I mean, I always wanted to be Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), but I don’t think I was Elizabeth!

STRIPLV: Do you enjoy playing in a period piece, even one like this, that is off at something of a tangent, or do you prefer contemporary?

KNIGHTLEY: I don’t think of them as two different genres. I mean I would really only look for the story or for a character, and it doesn’t really matter when something is set. I enjoy period pieces because I like doing the research that it requires more imagination. You have to imagine the world, the difference in culture and you have to create the entire world, as opposed to today where we know exactly what it is and we know how we behave, we know what we do, history as we know it. That’s kind of easy, and I enjoy the extra work that is required from a period piece. It is a very immersive experience. In fact, when I am in there, I really don’t like coming out of it as it becomes very difficult to suddenly do lots of press, or something else at the same time. So because of that, I can read things, and I know that unless I am really going to get into it, it’s just not going to work. I like fantasy as a dramatic tool because it involves leaving your ordinary way of looking at the world behind. You need to use your imagination to place yourself in the head of someone living in a previous era, and I love being able to do that. The most important thing is I want to repeat myself from one film to the next. I keep looking for roles that require different performances and present different kinds of obstacles.

STRIPLV: Do you ever get caught up with your characters to the point that they stay with you after you’ve finished a film?

KNIGHTLEY: Yes. The worst was when I was playing Anna Karenina. There were many days where I felt angry and irritable because of my feelings about her. I would take her home with me, and that was exhausting, and I often found myself in a very bad mood. On some days I probably wasn’t a very nice person to be around while I was shooting the film. It was one of those roles which I was very glad to be done with once the film was over.

STRIPLV: Do marriage and children change your thinking when it comes to work?

KNIGHTLEY: I think for a while it means you don’t have your foot all the way down on the accelerator. But I really love movies, and I really want to make really excellent movies. And I think that my work improves when I havelife experience. When I don’t go job to job to job, and I take a step back, then come back to it, then I’m the person I want to be on set, which is the positive person, and not the person who’s too tired. And I think that’s very important for me as well.

STRIPLV: Given that you grew up in a theatrical family, was acting your destiny?

KNIGHTLEY: I think so. I’ve been acting since I was six and I knew from that age that it was what I wanted to do in life. I was raised in that world - my dad was an actor, and my mum was both an actor and a writer. You can’t help but be swept away by that creative environment. I remember doing my homework backstage while my dad was rehearsing in the theater and it felt so wonderful to be there. It becomes your little world.

STRIPLV: What was the most important part of your early film education?

KNIGHTLEY: I think because I grew up going to the theater I became enthralled with the stage and with an appreciation for the arts. I also developed a great love of poetry when I was growing up, and a lot of that comes from my mum who would read to me poetry for hours and hours. I still have that sense of joy and fascination when it comes to stories which transport me out of this world. I love the fantasy of it all. I never expected fame and fortune because I knew how hard the business can be. My parents have always been my greatest inspiration, and they have always stood behind me. They have also helped guide me and help me in whatever ways they can and gave me the freedom to me make my own decisions in terms of work. I couldn’t have asked for more support than what they have given me over the years.

STRIPLV: Is there anyone life lesson that your parents gave you and which you feel has been of greatest importance to you?

KNIGHTLEY: A sense of independence. I was raised to have an independent spirit and mind and to learn to make my own way in life. My parents never tried to control me, and that gives you an enormous sense of freedom. It’s almost been intimidating to have been given that kind of personal and creative space - it took me a while before I truly felt as confident as I should have been, perhaps. But I think you learn more and ultimately have a greater sense of self-worth if you are allowed to make your mistakes and evolve with the sense that this is your life and career and you have to take responsibility for it.

STRIPLV: Would you like to also do more theater in the future?

KNIGHTLEY: I hope so. I enjoy theater and the fact you have more control over your performance and can fix things on the stage. Film is a director’s medium – what happens on-set can be very different to what actually appears, and you have to be prepared for the fact your own interpretation of a character may not be the final interpretation, even though you are the actor.

Sometimes the result is perfect; other times someone has taken a different slant, and you’re not quite sure who you are watching, even though you know all the lines. Film, when it works, is such a fucking miracle. Film is always a guessing game. You don’t have the audience there, so you’re always wondering if it’s really working.

STRIPLV: Do you feel that your own life has suffered a certain degree of mythmaking and then the process of tearing that façade down?

KNIGHTLEY: It’s the nature of the game. When you grow up in the business, you are aware of the celebrity culture and how you are going to enjoy moments where everything seems to be beautiful, and then people will try to take you down from those highs. It’s not something you can control, and so I just try to do my work and ignore what’s written about me. I have tried to live as quietly as possible but without worrying too much about where I go or what I want to do with my day. I’ve never been someone who wants to party a lot or go to clubs, and I have a life very separate from the film business - that also gives you a lot of perspectives that you can apply to your work. I think you add depth and insight to your work while you make your way through life and be as observant and curious as you can be.

STRIPLV: Is it easy being KeiraKnightleydespite the media attention?

KNIGHTLEY: I don’t have much choice, do I? (Laughs) I have a very good life, a wonderful family and I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to be able to do interesting work and get to travel and explore so many different things about the world.




By Lincoln D. Conway

In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But this new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.

Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke. The film was produced by legendary Steven Spielberg’s company Amblin Entertainment.

Black talked to STRIPLV about his enthusiasm and energy for the film, as well as starring opposite Cate Blanchett, his love of kids’ stories, food, travel, and being “Jack Black.”

STRIPLV: How was it working with Cate on this brilliant film?
BLACK: It was great fun. Cate is an incredible human being, and I am of the opinion no future film is worth making if it doesn’t have Cate Blanchett in it. There is such fantasy adventure in this movie yet, as an actor, you can only simulate so much of that yourself. When you are looking at who is going to star alongside you, you want that person to bring forward all of the horror and mystery and humor and fear that you aren’t able to provide at times, and in Cate, I really had that. We both fed off each other’s craziness, I think, to produce something special. It’s a bit embarrassing just how much in love I am with Cate, actually.
STRIPLV: What was the pressure like on this shoot?
BLACK: The shoot was fine but, you know, there is a pantheon of films that people have spoken about in relation to this because it has come from Steven Spielberg’s stable. So you’re talking ET, The Goonies, Jurassic Park, Hook, all that sort of era of film. I think we’ve come away from that a bit in recent times because animation has taken over so many of those potential stories. But now here we are returning to old-fashioned horror comedy film-making, so it’s natural to think people will look for comparisons. And hey, if we get even close to those sorts of movies, what an achievement that would be.
STRIPLV: Was it scary to film?
BLACK: Sure it was. Even with the CGI in place, there were so many other elements that were truly freaky. In terms of the audience, I think you need to go a fair way these days to freak kids out; kids these days are tough – they’re really tough. They can handle it, I promise.
STRIPLV: How should we approach watching it then?

The heart and soul is to embrace your inner weirdness. Don’t be ashamed to be embarrassed by your uniqueness, because that’s actually the source of your magic power. In this film, I am the teacher of freedom and of fantasy, and that’s a great feeling to give to kids and adults alike.

BLACK: The heart and soul is to embrace your inner weirdness. Don’t be ashamed to be embarrassed by your uniqueness, because that’s actually the source of your magic power. In this film, I am the teacher of freedom and of fantasy, and that’s a great feeling to give to kids and adults alike.
STRIPLV: Are you a good teacher in real life?
BLACK: Ha. Well, I’ve been trying to teach my boys how to play instruments. I’ve discovered I’m not a very good teacher actually. It takes a certain temperament and patience that I don’t know if I’m gifted with. It’s kind of like in the film; I’m still learning that lesson myself.
STRIPLV: Speaking of kids, you really bonded with a little boy in Uganda for Comic Relief a few years back. Have you been in touch with him since?
BLACK: I haven’t talked to Felix, but I’ve been in contact with the people from the organization because I want to send him to a boarding school. That is the plan, and I’m financing that, but that said that he needs more time at the shelter to acclimate before he goes to a more intense schooling programme. I definitely feel like I have unfinished business there. I’d like to go back.
STRIPLV: Do kids always want to be with you? Does the Jack Black magic translate wherever you are?
BLACK: I don’t think of my thing as a magic thing. I’m just sort of a clown so kids like when I make crazy faces; it’s the international language of clowning comedy. That’s why in Uganda I got so emotional - these kids that were in horrible situations; really in danger. And when you see these kids with these incredible senses of humor and just amazing little people, it breaks your heart when you realize that at the end of the day you’re going to go home and they’re still going to be in this horrible situation. It was tough.
STRIPLV: Has fatherhood changed your perspective?
BLACK: I think, naturally, you tend to steer towards movies that have more relevance for your kids. It’s like you have an extra reason now, a new audience. Luckily for me, most of my movies were for kids anyway, or big kids, perhaps, so the back catalog is holding out!
STRIPLV: When you’re allowed time off from work, where do you like to travel on vacation?
BLACK: I don’t travel for fun really. I like to stay at home. There’s lots of travel. I like traveling for business, that’s the way I like to travel. Because if I travel for vacation, I always get a little anxious. I feel like I am wasting time and my life is running out and I have got to get back home to work. It’s strange. Relaxing on vacation is a skill, and I don’t know how to do it.  
STRIPLV: Do you like to stay busy?
BLACK: Yes and no. Working with my band, we have this festival that we put on every year with music and comedy, and then I had a great experience doing TV. But doing all these movies and raising the boys, I’m going a little bit crazy, to be honest with you. It’s a bit too much.  
STRIPLV: What do you personally geek over? Is it music?
BLACK: Yeah, it is music. I mean if I see, when my band Tenacious D play some of these festivals, I will go around and watch my favorite acts, and I will geek out hard and if someone that I have never seen and if I get a chance to see them perform live, that is always amazing to me.
STRIPLV: Touring is tough and dirty. Do you take baths?

Who has got time for baths anymore? You know what I like though are those bath bombs. When I do take a bath, if I am ever sore, my muscles are sore after a hard night’s rocking, then I will maybe take a bath, and I will throw one of those balls in there, those bath bombs and let it sizzle in there, but no, I don’t take baths that much.

BLACK: No. Who has got time for baths anymore? You know what I like though are those bath bombs. When I do take a bath, if I am ever sore, my muscles are sore after a hard night’s rocking, then I will maybe take a bath, and I will throw one of those balls in there, those bath bombs and let it sizzle in there, but no, I don’t take baths that much.
STRIPLV: Can you tell me your favorite meal?
BLACK: My favorite meal is a cheeseburger. It’s the perfect sandwich; it’s the only real American contribution to world cuisine. And the best is Apple Pan. But there’s also one in the valley that no one knows about, well that’s not true, Bill’s Burgers. On Oxnard. Sushi is my second favorite. SugarFish. Ever been to SugarFish? It’s a chain, they got one La Brea, they got one on Ventura, and they got on in downtown LA and Beverly Hills. Oh my God and they all are exactly the same and the recipe of the rice, it’s got a sweet vinegar, so good. Oh! SugarFish, that’s the way to my heart.
STRIPLV: Who is your favorite actor?
BLACK: My favorite actor is probably Daniel Day-Lewis, even though I think I only like him when he plays old Americans, like Abraham Lincoln, or that guy from There Will Be Blood. And it’s about the same time period, so what’s going on? Or, that other Scorsese movie, what was that? Old American guy! He’s so good.

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