TIME movies

Sacha Baron Cohen to Star in Freddie Mercury Biopic

Sacha Baron Cohen attends 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Feb. 22, 2015.
Venturelli—Getty Images Sacha Baron Cohen attends 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Feb. 22, 2015.

Cohen will also write, direct and produce the film

A biopic starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury, the dynamic Queen frontman who died in 1991 at the age of 45 due to complications from AIDS, has been in the works for nearly seven years. It was confirmed as happening as early as 2010 and confirmed as not happening as recently as 2013—reportedly due to Cohen “not seeing eye to eye with the remaining members of Queen who have script and director approval.” Apparently the band was interested in a PG-version of the rock star’s life, while Cohen had hopes for a “gritty R-rated tell-all.”

During the project’s long gestational period, Cohen brought in the likes of Peter Morgan to write and David Fincher and Tom Hooper to direct the film, but all were rejected by the band. These differences appear to have been worked out, however, with Queen manager Jim Beach announcing that Cohen will depict the singer, as well as write, direct, and produce the film himself.

At the Artist and Manager Awards held on March 26, Beach used his acceptance speech—for the Peter Grant award for outstanding acheivement—to make the announcement. “You have probably followed the saga of the famous Queen-Freddie Mercury biopic which has been developing in Hollywood for the last seven years. An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce, and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star.”

When the film will get underway was not discussed. Cohen’s camp has yet to confirm his involvement.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME movies

Leonard Nimoy’s Son to Direct Spock Documentary

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the STAR TREK episode, "Spock's Brain." which aired on Sept. 20, 1968.
CBS/Getty Images Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the STAR TREK episode, "Spock's Brain." which aired on Sept. 20, 1968.

Zachary Quinto and William Shatner will be part of the film

Just one month after the death of Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on Star Trek, his son Adam Nimoy has announced plans to produce a documentary about the iconic character titled For the Love of Spock.

Nimoy’s fellow Star Trek actors will help honor the star in the documentary. Zachary Quinto, who played Spock in the last two Star Trek films, will narrate. Filmmakers say that William Shatner, who starred opposite Nimoy in the original series as Captain Kirk, has also agreed to appear in the film.

Adam Nimoy hopes to release the film in time to honor the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, which first aired on Sept. 8, 1966. Nimoy, who has directed episodes of Gilmore Girls and The Practice, told Variety that he and his father had discussed the project for months before the elder Nimoy’s death. Adam Nimoy says that the reaction to his father’s illness has inspired him to go ahead with the film.

“He felt as if he had plenty of time, but then he declined precipitously,” he said. “I was struck with the outpouring of affection for him after he died, so this feels like the right thing to do.”

Leonard Nimoy announced via Twitter last year that he had been diagnosed with COPD, a chronic respiratory disease caused by smoking that has no cure. He encouraged fans on Twitter not to smoke. Nimoy died on Feb. 27.

Read next: This Is How the New Spock Said Goodbye to the Old Spock


TIME movies

See Ryan Reynolds Lying on a Bearskin Rug in His First Picture as Deadpool

20th Century Fox Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool

The film is set to hit theaters in February 2016

Ryan Reynolds has pushed hard for a Deadpool spinoff movie from the X-Men franchise, and now that he has it, he’s celebrating in style. The actor spoofed Burt Reynolds in the first picture of Deadpool released by Fox, posing on a bearskin rug in front of a fire. Reynolds tweeted the picture for comparison, along with a disclaimer:

Reynolds has been talking about making a Deadpool movie since 2005. “I would love to play that role,” Reynolds said at the time during a convention. “The merc[enary] with a mouth … it’s like that’s the reason I stepped out of my mother, to play that role. So someday. Hopefully.”

The character, who has super healing abilities and thus is very difficult to kill, last appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a box office disappointment compared to other entries in the franchise. But fans responded positively to leaked test footage of Reynolds playing Deadpool, likely convincing Fox to give the project the green light.

Reynolds is currently filming in Vancouver. Deadpool is set to hit theaters in February 2016.


TIME movies

Watch James Bond Return in the First Spectre Trailer

007 faces a formidable set of villains in the new movie

The long-awaited first teaser trailer for the next James Bond film, Spectre, premiered Friday night.

SPECTRE, fans will recall, is the evil organization behind attempts at world domination in classic Bond films like Thunderball and You Only Live Twice (That name? It’s an acronym: Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). The new film will presumably reveal some of SPECTRE’s origins as Bond encounters it for the first time.

Ralph Fiennes takes over as the new M in the new movie, set for release Nov. 6, as Bond hunts down a cryptic message from his past to discover the shadowy organization.

Sam Mendes, who helmed Skyfall, will direct the film starring Daniel Craig as Bond, Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser, Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Andrew Scott as Denbigh.

Read Next: Here’s Why the Next James Bond Film Is Called Spectre

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TIME movies

Vin Diesel Spent His Childhood in an Artists’ Commune

Scott Garfield—Universal

But his old stomping ground of the West Village was a lot grittier back then

For a guy whose career has been built on the impressive circumference of his biceps, speed of his drawl and pack of his punch, Vin Diesel’s childhood was surprisingly artistic. He grew up surrounded by painters, writers and performers in the first ever federally supported housing complex specifically for artists.

Westbeth, located in New York City’s West Village, is a cluster of old industrial buildings that formerly housed Bell Laboratories. The building has a quite a history: it was where the first talking movie, TV broadcast, and binary computer were demonstrated. But Bell Labs moved out and in 1970, was replaced by 383 units of loft-style affordable housing and studio space for artists designed by a young Richard Meier.

To live in one of the apartments, potential residents had to prove they were both poor and working artists. (Their art was judged by a committee.) As a result, the place was crawling with creativity. The dance pioneer Merce Cunningham had studio space there, Miles Davis played at a friend’s apartment at Westbeth, and photographer Diane Arbus lived there—and, alas, died there, when she committed suicide in 1971.

Mark Vincent, as Diesel was then known, grew up there with his twin brother Paul, because his stepfather (he never knew his biological dad) was an avant-garde theater director, who later worked in TV and film education. His mom, Diesel says, was an astrologer. “It was an artist community, everyone was expressing themselves,” says Diesel, who is profiled in TIME this week. “Great painters, poets, sculptors, musicians and thespians all lived in this building. It was kind of a mecca for artists. What a magical place for a young artist to grow up in.”

Other kids who grew up in the building remember Diesel, or Mark Vincent as he was then known, being the kind of brotherly big dog that he plays in the Furious 7, the latest in The Fast and the Furious series. He would scurry around the former industrial complex with a gang of other little kids, getting into mischief. “He was definitely one of the ringleaders or alphas,” says Adam Davidson, a financial journalist who also grew up in the complex “I was younger and Mark would encourage us to go to parts of the building that were a little scary.”

Not surprisingly, the place was fantastically progressive. Davidson remember being shocked when he got to college in the ’80s to discover interracial marriage and homosexuality were frowned on in some circles. Equally unsurprisingly, families who moved into the complex rarely moved out. The once-gritty industrial neighborhood is now one of Manhattan’s swankiest. And yep, Diesel’s parents still live there.

TIME movies

Jake Gyllenhaal Hits Hard in Southpaw Trailer

Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams and 50 Cent co-star

Jake Gyllenhaal can pack a punch in the first trailer for Southpaw, a boxing film directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter). Gyllenhaal plays a boxing champion whose violent behavior has grave consequences for his family.

Rachel McAdams, 50 Cent, Rita Ora and Forest Whitaker co-star in the film. The trailer also features a new song from Eminem. The film arrives in theaters July 31.

TIME movies

How Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper Went Both Bad and Sad in Serena

Jennifer and Bradley together again. Sounds great — but not in this drama made in 2012, now getting a release that's really an autopsy

Bad movies: they can be tatty classics of crazed ineptitude, like Edward D. Wood’s Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space, or big-budget misfires like the 1987 Ishtar, a would-be comedy that sent Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman on a Hope-Crosby Road to Dystopia. Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, a “bad movie” that practically torpedoed its sponsoring studio, United Artists, is actually often a great one — anyway, much of it errs on that side — but in “gate” notoriety it’s up there with Richard Nixon’s Water-, Bill Clinton’s Monica- and Chris Christie’s Bridge-.

Connoisseurs of bad movies are looking for bold wrongness: the urgency of a child screaming its lungs out with what may be madness or a hint of genius. But another type of certifiably awful movie just sits in a corner muttering about issues that neither it nor any spectator can care about. Such a one is Serena, Danish director Susanne Bier’s DOA adaptation of Ron Rash’s 2008 bestseller. Filmed in 2012 and finally limping into theaters after a few weeks on VOD, Serena fails in ways that are fun neither to sit through nor to write about.

The picture would barely be worth an obit except for its leading actors, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. They made ideal wounded sparring partners (and ballroom dancers) in Silver Linings Playbook. They flirted with malicious intent in American Hustle. They’re big stars, frequent Oscar nominees and, from available evidence, decent people for whom one wishes the best. And somehow they stumbled into a muted kind of worst: the story of a North Carolina lumberman and his Colorado bride, in an effort that has star wattage up the wazoo but zero emotional voltage.

George Pemberton (Cooper) is a powerful rogue employing any means necessary to battle government regulations in the first years of the Great Depression. He must also cope with his new wife’s knowledge that, before they met, he fathered a child with a local girl (Ana Ularu). Serena (Lawrence) says that nothing in the past matters; but that’s just the cooing lie of a femme fatale — the type that Barbara Stanwyck brought to seductive life and death in Hollywood’s Golden and Noir ages.

Iconographically, Lawrence looks just right for the period. Platinum blonde, she instantly evokes such early-talkies actresses as Mae West. Toby Wing and Jean Harlow. Too bad she gets no help from Bier, who won a Foreign Film Oscar in 2011 for the Danish In a Better World after a calamitous foray into Hollywood drama with the 2006 Things We Lost in the Fire.

Foreign-born directors, from Billy Wilder to Alejandro González Iñárritu, can be the most acute observers of American ways and mores, but Bier lacks either the empathy or the simple competence to establish a forboding tone and bring the Serena story to pulsing, plausible life. The movie was shot in Prague, not in the American South, but distance is no excuse for disaster. The Anglo-Italian Anthony Minghella filmed a dark Carolina love story, the 2003 Cold Mountain, in Romania and still managed to extract plenty of Tar Heel kick from his Civil War epic.

In Serena, stuff happens, then nastier stuff, without ever engaging the viewer’s rooting interest or sick fear. Sometimes it’s a question of sloppiness on the set or in the editing room. In one intense scene with Cooper, Lawrence provides the money shot of a tear coursing down her cheek. In the next closeup, her face is dry, suggesting that no one noticed or nobody cared.

Behind this inert movie is the shadow of a better, or at least creepier, one. Serena was originally to star Angelina Jolie and be directed by Darren Aronofsky immediately after he made Black Swan — a movie that reveled in the display of a sympathetic woman going toxically bonkers. Black Swan shared some of those excesses, but its vigor gave it a liveliness he might have applied to the Serena project. Bier’s directorial timidity spells doom.

It’s like some fateful old Broadway tryout that should have closed in New Haven. In fact, Serena opened last Oct. at the London Film Festival. Lawrence graciously showed up, beckoning the audience to embrace the movie. “And if you don’t,” she added, “just don’t tweet about it.”

The more appropriate social medium would have been Grumblr, the Tumblr spinoff that, like Serena, suffered an early death in 2012. This weekend’s theatrical premiere marks only the sighting of a glamorous zombie — a movie that is a poignant subspecies of bad: just plain sad.

TIME movies

Watch How the Interstellar Team Created Those Terrifying Dust Storms: Exclusive

Christopher Nolan ditched the CGI in favor of truckloads of real dust

Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi spectacular from last year, was widely praised for its visionary use of special effects to imagine far-off planets, and a dessicated future Earth. The film, which was featured on the cover of TIME in November, won an Oscar for its visual effects last month.

Those visual effects weren’t just CGI. As this exclusive video shows, the process of creating the dust storms that bedevil earthbound Jessica Chastain was laborious, focused on the movements of the wind and the tossing of very real dust.

The dust storms, and all the rest of Interstellar‘s imaginings of a dystopian future, will be available to view on Blu-Ray and DVD March 31.

TIME Television

Watch George Lucas Assure Fox News He’ll Only Make Patriotic Movies Now

Get ready for The Clinton Menace and American Exceptionalism Graffiti

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook,Daily Show Video Archive

After Megyn Kelly complained that Fox News doesn’t get enough credit for good reporting on sensitive stories, Jon Stewart decided to send up that network’s egotism with a congratulatory cake: Carvel’s Fudgie the Whale, since Fox News is “a whale of a network.”

The icing on top? George Lucas promises that thanks to all the groundbreaking work they’ve done, he’ll now only make movies “that are blindly uncritical of America—like The Empire Strikes Back, Justifiably.” Buy your tickets now, folks, it’s sure to be a summer blockbuster.

Read next: 11 Movies Starring Women That Will Rival Summer Blockbusters

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TIME movies

Why the DreamWorks Launch Would Never Happen Today

Mar. 27, 1995, cover of TIME
Cover Credit: MATTHEW ROLSTON The Mar. 27, 1995, cover of TIME

Revisiting TIME's 1995 cover story about the then-upstart studio

Starting a major Hollywood studio isn’t easy—but for a moment 20 years ago, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen made it look that way.

On the March 27, 1995, cover of TIME, the three men, collectively known as SKG, posed together under the headline “The Players”; the Oscar-winning director, the record-industry legend and the executive had joined forces (and pooled cash) the year prior to create a company, DreamWorks, that had not yet actually produced anything. No matter! The trio all had sterling track records (Spielberg was coming off the double success of Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in 1993) and the sheer brio of it made their coming-together newsworthy.

“I guarantee that, when their first film premieres, everyone will say, ‘This is it? This is what these three geniuses have come up with?’,” Tom Hanks, friend to all three men, said in Richard Corliss’ TIME cover story. But at the time, that was all in the future. What underpins TIME’s 1995 coverage of DreamWorks is a sense of just how rare it is for a new force to rise in a Hollywood governed by a set of old, ossified studios. DreamWorks obtained investments, Corliss wrote, based on the hope that it would be “the prototype plugged-in multimedia company of the new millennium.” That it ultimately spent about ten years as an independent entity, largely producing traditional, mid-budget films rather than creating synergistic, plugged-in entertainments is unsurprising in retrospect—but TIME’s in-the-moment exuberance is completely understandable. After all, a new studio is something rare, and something that’s only grown rarer.

SKG didn’t spur imitators among independent producers, which is hardly surprising. Few people with the assets to start a studio, and the trustworthiness to obtain an even bigger line of credit to bankroll it going forward, need the trouble that Corliss’ piece hinted was ahead for SKG. “At DreamWorks, Katzenberg is a man with a mission; the other two are in it for the fun, which could wear thin quickly,” he wrote. But it seems, from the outside, that the studio’s difficulties had less to do with any clash in motivations than with facts on the ground about how Hollywood was changing.

The past decade has been as fallow for the upstarts that have by-and-large failed to materialize as it’s been stressful for the specialty divisions of major studios: Paramount Vantage and Warner Bros.’ New Line have been absorbed into their parent companies. In a marketplace that’s more and more defined by tentpole franchise pictures, the degree of difficulty in building a studio based on mid-range films (like DreamWorks’s inaugural films, The Peacemaker and Amistad) has grown steeper. Independent operators in Hollywood have found the industry, of late, particularly inhospitable. A trio like SKG would be yet more novel today than they were in 1995—but they simply don’t exist.

In late 2005, a bit more than a decade after their TIME cover, DreamWorks was sold by its founders to the media conglomerate Viacom, which also owned Paramount Pictures. The onetime new kid on the block was now effectively shackled to the epitome of the Hollywood establishment. They’d had several hits, including the animated Shrek franchise, but plenty of bad press as well; it turns out running a company in the present tense was more difficult than attracting positive press for future prospects.

“No one doubted the artistic talent at DreamWorks SKG when it was launched in 1994 amid hype befitting its superstar founders,” TIME noted some months before the sale, after an attempt to take the company’s animation division public failed miserably and DVD sales of Shrek 2 were wildly miscalculated. “Overlooked in the face of such Tinseltown royalty, though, was that none were proven CEOs.” It turned out that the trio’s $1 billion initial assets for the company were “perhaps a fifth of what was needed.” DreamWorks still had high hopes for the animated films that lay ahead, but TIME accurately predicted that Fox, Sony and Disney, all legacy media companies with long histories, would come roaring into that space as competitors; this year, DreamWorks Animation laid off 500 employees.

These days, the model for an independent producer is Megan Ellison, the 29-year-old heir to billionaire tech executive Larry Ellison. Her Annapurna Pictures finances movies that are risky (Zero Dark Thirty, Her, Spring Breakers) rather than Spielberg’s straight-over-the-plate commercial pictures. She can afford not to be a good CEO. Spielberg and company could not. Their 1995 spotlight on TIME’s cover represents a fleeting moment of possibility before the ground shifted.

Read the full 1995 cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Hey, Let’s Put On a Show!

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