TIME movies

PHOTOS: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Career Over the Years

The WWE champ's journey to A-list stardom has been a Herculean feat

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new movie of mythical proportions, Hercules, hits theaters on July 25, 2014.

Take a look back at how the former WWE World Heavyweight champion has gone from professional wrestler to Hollywood action star.

TIME Culture

The Rise of Fangirls at Comic-Con

Comic-Con International 2014 - Day 1
A costumed guest attends Comic-Con International 2014 - Day 1 on July 24, 2014 in San Diego, California. Joe Scarnici—FilmMagic

Why women are flocking to the conference

San Diego Comic-Con—an annual conference celebrating all things gloriously nerdy from The Avengers to Star Trek—has had a reputation as a boys’ club, albeit a geeky one. Many unfamiliar with the event might assume its made up of nerdy boys in Star Wars costumes ogling “booth babes.” But attend this year’s Comic-Con, which began Thursday and runs throughout the weekend, and you can visit a panel on the women of Marvel comics, watch a geek couture fashion show and meet female writers of iconic shows like The Walking Dead.

This year’s Comic-Con will draw 130,000 fans, almost half of whom are female. It will feature 12 panels focused specifically on women—more than every before. And that doesn’t even count panels that feature female writers without advertising it.

“When I was in high school I went to some local sci-fi cons, and the way I remember it, men vastly outnumbered the women. Now though when I go to cons I see that the numbers are far more evenly matched, and that’s nothing but terrific,” says Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy fame, who is hosting a panel called “Behind the Scenes of Science Fiction in Movies and on TV,” which happens to be made up of all female writers from shows like Game of Thrones and movies like Guardians of the Galaxy. “There’s nothing inherent in the ideas of fantasy, science fiction or any other genre that shouldn’t appeal to men and women equally — to everyone equally.”

Girls are taking over Comic-Con, but where did they come from and why did it take so long?

Sarah Michelle Gellar Stars In Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Sarah Michelle Gellar Stars In “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Getty Images

Out of the Shadows

Long-time attendees, panelists and industry insiders believe that women have always been a fan of genre, but in the last five years they have become more openly vocal about their nerdy tendencies.

“I feel like it’s perceived to be a boys’ club, but I’m not sure it ever really has been,” says Jane Espenson, who will participate in the sci-fi writing panel. Espenson wrote episodes on a wide range of sci-fi and fantasy shows, including Buffy, Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica (where she was the only woman in the writer’s room). She is currently a co-creator of the online show Husbands. “There were always a lot of women at those Buffy panels. Even at the Battlestar Gallactica panels because Starbuck was such an iconic female character, you’d see a lot of women showing up in fighter pilot uniforms.”

Sci-fi and fantasy have a history of being groundbreaking in terms of diversity: the original Star Trek forged the way for social change by telling stories about acceptance using aliens as a stand-in for marginalized human groups. But it took social media and conventions like Comic-Con to bring together like-minded geek girls who may have been bullied or marginalized at their schools for liking “boy things.”

“The community of women who are interested in these things are becoming more vocal thanks to things like Twitter and Tumblr,” says Jeanine Schaefer, an editor at Marvel who has worked on titles like She-Hulk and the all-female X-Men series. “It’s not that they’re suddenly here. It’s that they’re suddenly more visible.”

In a world where Game of Thrones, a fantasy show, has become the most-watched series in HBO history (an unimaginable feat just a few years ago), being a nerd has become kind of cool. “Not only is it acceptable now to enjoy these things, but it’s oddly kind of sexy to like video games and science and get what the boys are doing,” says Espenson.

And a plethora of cool female characters in these genres — from Deanerys in Game of Thrones to Mystique in X-Men — have connected with fans and inspired them to create their own badass ladies in fan fiction or even within the industry. “The number of letters that I’ve gotten over the years from young women talking about how they only survived high school because of Buffy is overwhelming,” says Espenson. “I think women see the show and want to create their own thing.”

Ashley Eckstein poses in a geek couture Darth Vader outfit to promote the Comic-Con fashion show Her Universe

Geek Couture

Nothing epitomizes the transition of girl geek culture into the limelight quite like the rise of Her Universe, a women’s clothing brand dedicated to geek-inspired fashion (think: Avengers leggings and R2D2 skirts). Founder Ashley Eckstein got the idea after she was cast in Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2005. As a part of the franchise, Eckstein sought out Star Wars women’s wear and came up short. “I was tired of wearing men’s boxy shirts,” she says. “I wanted women’s cuts and dresses. I did my research and close to 50% of sci-fi fans are women, and 80% of all consumer purchases are made by women. I’m no mathematician, but that looked like an untapped market.”

So she started her own company in 2010. Her Universe now has licenses to create apparel based on Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, The Walking Dead, Marvel and Transformers, among other franchises. The label took off and is now a mainstay in popular stores for teens like Hot Topic.

In an effort to further reach out to female fans, Eckstein is organizing a fashion show for “geek couture” at this year’s Comic-Con. Comic-Con is of course filled with cosplay—short for costume play, in which participants dress like their favorite characters—but Eckstein spotted another movement. “I’d been noticing a trend for quite some time that girls who show up in their own costume fashions that weren’t cosplay,” she says. “They were these outfits that were cosplay-inspired but that you could wear going out, and the women were using Comic-Con as their runway.”

Eckstein worked for two years to create a real fashion show featuring designs submitted by fans. They received over 160 submissions and narrowed the show down to 36 outfits. The two winners of the show will get to design their own lines for Her Universe. Such an event would have been unimaginable at Comic-Con in the 00s.

Thor concept art on July 15, 2014. Marvel Comics

Thor Becomes a Woman

As the geeky girl has become a more visible trope online at at the convention, industry execs have realized they can reap huge profits from an untapped market of female fans. So they started reaching out directly by licensing stories to companies like Her Universe. Now, they’re taking the next step by re-examining the diversity of characters in their comic books, films and shows.

For the past four years, Marvel has hosted a “Women of Marvel” panel that highlights not only female writers and editors at Marvel Comics but also some of the brand’s female superheroes. Marvel editor Schaefer says that last year was their most successful panel ever: the room was so full with both men and women that most had to stand and many fans couldn’t even get in. This year will likely draw even more curious followers since Marvel recently announced that the popular hero Thor will become a woman.

“While we’ve always been dedicated to making our characters reflect the world outside your window, we’re making more inroads towards better reflecting the breadth of our readership by diversifying our line and making sure there’s something for everyone,” says Schaefer.

Sometimes that means creating more female heroes or allowing a woman to wield Thor’s hammer. Other times that simply means letting women know they can read comics too. “I’ve long said to get women to read comics, we don’t need to make something that all women will read because that doesn’t exist,” says Schaefer. “We just need to make sure there’s not a sign that says, ‘No girls allowed.’”

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow Moviestills DB/Marvel

Waiting for Black Widow

But despite the community’s best efforts to welcome women, it still struggles to achieve gender parity. “I think women are represented in higher rates in sci-fi writing than in some other fields like procedurals,” says TV writer Espenson. “But we’re still vastly outnumbered.”

On the convention floor, “booth babes” still persist, beckoning fans to events like sirens in skimpy outfits. And some female fans mimic this look. “Yes, you’ll see girls dressed in sexy costumes,” says Eckstein of Her Universe. “But part of that is that these classic characters in comic books are dressed in sexy costumes, and it’s really important to the fans to be accurate.” That’s beginning to change: As part of Marvel’s effort to incorporate more women in the last several years they’ve redesigned their costumes to be more “modern” (read: a bit less objectifying).

And fans are choosing a wider range of costumes than ever before. “I would say you won’t just see Princess Leia in the gold bikini,” says Eckstein. “You’ll see Endor Leia and Leia in the white dress and girls dressed as fighter pilots.”

Many of those fans — especially teens — are donning outfits similar to those Scarlett Johansson wears as Black Widow in The Avengers films. “They’re obsessed with her,” says Eckstein. Underlying all my interviews was this cautious optimism surrounding the Black Widow character, who is perhaps the most likely female superhero to get her own franchise in the near future. As Lucy—an action film also starring Scarlett Johansson—premieres this weekend, the industry is holding its breath, waiting to see if Johansson can carry the movie and therefore merit a shot at her own Marvel film. “I can’t speak to any of our movie stuff,” says Schaefer at Marvel. “But obviously as a fan, I want [Lucy] to succeed. I want people to go out and vote with their dollars.”

A Black Widow film could pave the way for a long-awaited Wonder Woman movie (Wonder Woman will appear in Batman v. Superman in 2016, but isn’t a main character) and perhaps even an X-Men spinoff starring Mystique. But Hollywood still thinks that betting on female leads is a risk, even though they’ve proven through shows like Buffy to succeed on the small screen.

“Issues of sexism and misogyny still plague a lot of online culture, including geek culture,” says Plait. “One way to help that is to simply mainstream the issue, to stop ‘othering’ women. That’s why this isn’t a panel about being a woman in science fiction, it’s a panel about science fiction that happens to have all women on it.”

Placing these women writers and actors front and center is sure to inspire another generation of women hoping to join the industry and create their own female characters. Schaefer says every year she gets questions as to how she broke into the boys’ club. “When I was a kid, I thought it was all dudes making comics,” says Schaefer. “And then one day I saw a woman’s name and thought, ‘Wow, there’s a woman doing this. I can do this too.’”

TIME movies

Matthew McConaughey, Christopher Nolan Make a Surprise Appearance at Comic-Con

Paramount Studios Presentation - Comic-Con International 2014
Actor Matthew McConaughey attends the Paramount Studios presentation during Comic-Con International 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 24, 2014 in San Diego, Calif. Kevin Winter—Getty Images

They debuted a new trailer for Interstellar

Actor Matthew McConaughey and director Christopher Nolan debuted a new trailer for their film Interstellar during a surprise visit to Comic-Con on Thursday. It was the first time either of the two has ever appeared at the San Diego convention.

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“Thought it would be a fun thing to come down and see what all the fuss is about,” Nolan said to the audience in Hall H, according to Variety. So far, audiences have seen only cryptic trailers for Interstellar. Nolan explained that the movie will focus on space travel. “To be an astronaut was the highest ambition,” he said. “The idea to keep exploring space farther and farther… it (fell) off greatly. We are in a period of incredible technological change, (but it’s about) what’s in your pocket, your living room. I like the idea that we are on the cusp of a brand new era and we are traveling outwards more.” McConaughey expanded upon Nolan’s hints in more concrete detail: “Cooper is a pilot, an engineer and a widowed pilot of two children where civilization is just sustaining,” the Oscar-winner explained. “There’s food, clean water, but they don’t need any explorers, no new bright ideas. Then something happens and the dream of being a pilot agains knocks on his door.” The actor said that the movie pits his character’s loyalty to the human race against his love for his family. Though Nolan has a history of taking on ambitious projects, like the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, the True Detective actor said, “By far, this is the most ambitious film that Christopher Nolan has ever directed.” The movie is set to premiere on Nov. 7 and will also star Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and Casey Affleck. [Variety]

TIME Music

Weird Al: Hitting Number 1 Doesn’t Change Plan to Stop Making Albums

Weird Al Visits Visits Music Choice's "You & A"
"Weird Al" Yankovic visits Music Choice's "You & A" on July 14, 2014 in New York City. D Dipasupil—Getty Images

Also: why it's not correct to say he's "pulling a Beyoncé"

It’s been more than a year since “Weird Al” Yankovic told the world, on his blog, that after his current contract ran up, he would be exploring releasing singles digitally rather than full albums. It’s been a little more than a week since his album Mandatory Fun was released, and just a few days since he reiterated that he wasn’t sure he would be releasing any further conventional albums.

Then, as of Wednesday, his situation changed: Mandatory Fun officially became Yankovic’s first album to top the Billboard chart.

“I didn’t think this was an option for me,” he tells TIME. “I thought there was a glass ceiling for comedy albums. The last time a comedy album topped the Billboard charts was over half a century ago.”

But that doesn’t mean his plans are changing. The success of Mandatory Fun doesn’t mean he’ll stick with the album-centric way of releasing music.

“I continue to think the same things that I thought prior to the album going to Number 1. I still think that albums for me are not the most efficient or intelligent way for me to present my music to the public,” he says. “I would prefer to get my songs out in a more timely fashion.”

Being an artist who only releases singles just makes sense, he says, since he likes to parody songs when they’re still at the forefront of listeners’ minds. Especially given the perfect storm that YouTube is — helping music videos and comedy sketches get to viewers in a way that didn’t used to be possible — his goal is to capitalize on the technology as much as possible.

And that means he’s not following other artists’ leads: the music video onslaught that came with Mandatory Fun — eight videos in eight days — has been oft compared to Beyoncé’ strategy with her 2013 album Beyoncé. “Many people have brought that up and it does irk me just a little bit because on my last album, which came out three years ago, I released 12 videos for the 12 tracks from the album all at the same time,” he says. “I doubt that she got that idea from me, but the fact that people are saying I pulled a Beyoncé, that’s just not accurate.”

He’s also not setting anything in stone. Yankovic says that he knows that albums still work best for many artists, and the tide of the music business may turn back for him as well. Mandatory Fun hasn’t changed his mind about the format, but something else might. “I’m not drawing any hard lines in the sand,” he says. “I’ll do whatever’s appropriate, and if that doesn’t work out I’ll do something else.”

TIME movies

Check Out the Newest Picture of Ben Affleck As Batman

Batman - Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck as Batman DCComics.com

The new Dark Knight gets his close-up

For Batman’s seventy-fifth birthday, DC Comics is displaying a new, dark image of Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader at its San Diego Comic-Con booth. The image was part of a montage celebrating various depictions of Batman in comics, TV shows, movies and games, according to the DC Comics website. Affleck is set to star as Gotham’s dark knight in the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice film opposite Henry Cavill, who played Superman in 2013′s Man of Steel. The new movie is set to drop in 2016.
MORE: See Every Batman Logo From the Past 75 Years — All In One Gif

TIME Music

Fifty Shades of Grey: The Story Behind Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” Update

How strings-master Margot and in-demand producer Boots reimagined Bey's 2003 hit


If you were surprised to hear Beyoncé lend her trademark uh-oh-uh-ohs to the Fifty Shades of Grey film, you weren’t the only one.

“With everything she’s been doing recently, the surprise factor has been a big part of it,” says violinist and recording artist Margot, who arranged and played the strings on the new version of “Crazy in Love” that’s featured in the just-released trailer. In fact, Margot didn’t even know if her own contributions had made the cut until she watched the trailer for the first time on Thursday.

“It was one of those things that happened on the spot, and you have to jump when you know it’s a good opportunity,” she tells TIME.

The track was produced by Boots, who helmed much of Beyoncé’s last album; he and Margot have worked together on a number of projects, including Beyoncé and Boots’ recent mixtape. A few weeks ago, Boots called Margot to say he was working on a movie trailer and needed some string contributions — but he needed them that night. Margot met up with Boots in Brooklyn, he played her the track (which he had recorded just that day, not long after Bey’s team reached out) and she immediately began laying down the violin parts you hear before Beyoncé ever recorded vocals.

“It inspires me to work on other artists’ songs [because] it pushes my boundaries in a direction that I wouldn’t necessarily come up with,” Margot says. “Obviously I know how ‘Crazy in Love’ goes, but I knew there was the possibility her vocals would be different. It’s almost more vulnerable and beautiful this way, because you do do crazy things when you fall in love. To hear the mood reversed and flipped makes it even more powerful.”

Despite their success in remaking the track for the highly anticipated film adaptation, neither Margot nor Boots have actually read the book.

“It’s funny, when it comes to scoring films and making music, it’s more about the mood that you’re capturing anyway,” she says. “We didn’t necessarily need to know the storyline to make something dramatic and sensual.”

TIME movies

Watch Jake Gyllenhall in the Nightcrawler Trailer

Nope, not about the comic book superhero

An extremely-thin, bug-eyed Jake Gyllenhall leaves a creepy impression in the premiere of the Nightcrawler trailer. The 33-year-old actor lost 20 pounds for the role.

Gyllenhall plays a TV crime reporter who is the first on the scene of car crashes and murders to catch footage for the news. It’s not long before Gyllenhall takes things too far and is slamming his hands against a mirror and crying out. “My motto is, if you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy the ticket,” Gyllenhall’s character Lou Bloom says in the trailer.


The movie is set to hit theaters on Oct. 17.

TIME Television

Andy Samberg and Kit Harington to Team Up In HBO’s Wimbledon Mockumentary

Spike TV's "Guys Choice" Awards - Arrivals
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07: Actor Andy Samberg attends Spike TV's "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Studios on June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic) Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic

Tennis, anyone?

Andy Roddick and Andy Murray are about to be joined by a new tennis-playing Andy: Andy Samberg. The comedian will not be playing at the U.S. Open any time soon, but he will be honing his backhand to play a tennis bad boy opposite Game of Thrones star Kit Harington (a.k.a. Jon Snow) in an upcoming HBO mockumentary called 7 Days in Hell.

Samberg will play “tennis’ superstar bad boy” Aaron Williams, who is up against Harington’s Charles Poole, “a tennis prodigy and certified truck driver,” facing off during a legendary seven-day match at Wimbledon, according to Deadline. While the story sounds far-fetched, it has roots in reality. Back in 2010, Wimbledon hosted an epic match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, who battled it out for 11 hours over three days, with Isner eventually winning, 70-68 in the fifth set.

Rounding out the cast of the mockumentary will be Fred Armisen, Lena Dunham, Karen Gillan (as a supermodel and Charles’s childhood best friend), Howie Mandel, Soledad O’Brien (as herself), Michael Sheen and Mary Steenburgen (as Charles’s crazed mother). Nebraska stars Will Forte and June Squibb will reunite on screen as well, with Forte playing a tennis historian.

The HBO original was written by Girls and American Dad! writer Murray Miller and is based on a concept by Miller and Samberg. SNL and Funny or Die’s Jake Szymanski will direct.

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TIME Humor

Watch: Kristen Bell Plays a Minimum-Wage Mary Poppins

Feed the birds, y'all


In case you had any doubts about whether Kristen Bell is one of Hollywood’s most talented dames, check out this amazing Funny or Die video in which she plays a fed-up Mary Poppins who quits her job because her pay sucks. The best part is when she looks in the mirror and her reflection is a Republican. Also props to Funny or Die for finding the perfect kids to play Jane and Michael Banks.

Babysitters of the world, unite!

TIME Television

Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch’s Second City Show Dratch & Fey Is Now Online

Before there was 30 Rock, there was Dratch & Fey


It’s hard to recall a time when Tina Fey wasn’t filling our TV sets and movie screens with big laughs, but back in 1999, before Saturday Night Live made her a household name and Mean Girls was the stuff of legend and 30 Rock GIFs filled Facebook, Fey was just another comic trying to make a name for herself in the comedy trenches.

Thanks to the magical elves that post videos to YouTube, fans can travel back in time to witness the wonder of a two-woman show called Dratch & Fey, starring Fey and fellow SNL-er Rachel Dratch. The show ran at both Second City and New York’s UCB Theater from 1999-2000, when both women were on the cusp of stardom. Dratch had joined the cast of SNL and Fey had recently been appointed as the head writer of the show, but had not yet moved in front of the camera.

The show itself, much like SNL, was a series of sketches woven together by nothing more than humor. In the clip posted to YouTube, the duo starts by riffing on “theater as social tool” with Dratch becoming Edwina Garth Burnham, a woman’s rights pioneer, while Fey adopts the personality of a modern woman exploring her sexuality. Naturally, big laughs ensue.

The quality of the video isn’t great, as it appears to have been ripped from a VHS tape, but when you get nearly an hour of vintage Dratch and Fey given free rein on stage, you don’t look a YouTube gift horse in the mouth. You just watch.

(via Splitsider)

MORE: Watch Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld Go on a Coffee Run Together

MORE: Watch Tina Fey Throw Punches in This Is Where I Leave You Trailer

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