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Instead of congregating on the stage of Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium for their best-ensemble win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the cast of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” called in on Zoom.
For a video conference, they make a starry bunch. Logging in from around the world were Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance, John Carroll Lynch, Ben Shankman and other members of Aaron Sorkin’s historical courtroom drama.
After winning the guild’s top honor, the cast spoke briefly with The Associated Press in an interview recorded Thursday before Sunday’s broadcast of the pre-taped awards. Here, slightly edited for clarity, are their remarks.
AP: You’re an especially varied group of actors with quite different styles and approaches. How did you coalesce as an ensemble?
EDDIE REDMAYNE: A lot of credit has to be given to Francine Maisler, who was our casting director. All of the characters represented in the film were so unique and so specific. I think she collected a group of actors who had completely different styles and completely different outlooks on the way to approach work. For me, what I loved when I got to see a cut of the movie was that you saw that. It was like a clash of different types of music, whether it was jazz or rock or classical — but all of that coming together under Aaron. He was the conductor, almost. So I give Aaron and Francine a huge amount of credit. It was a joy day-and-day-out to watch these great and different and varied actors slugging it out.
FRANK LANGELLA: There is something very powerful about working toward the greater good. Actors have a tendency to think about themselves a lot. How’s my lighting? Am I going to get my close-in my scene? But as I said in my speech, Aaron rose above that and caused all of us to do that.
JOHN CARROLL LYNCH: When you take a job in a movie called “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” there’s an assumption that it’s going to be an ensemble picture. It’s a self-selecting group of people who want to work with others so intimately and being willing to risk their own process in such quarters. It is a tribute to the casting and to Aaron’s script but also to the actors who said “yes.”
Some freelancers have been out of work for a year and are ineligible for Government schemes.
Michaela Coel and Eddie Redmayne are among the stars backing a campaign to raise money for the Theatre Artists Fund ahead of the anniversary of theatres closing.
They will be joined by Maxine Peake, Harriet Walter and Ruth Madeley in encouraging donations to the fund, which provides emergency financial aid to struggling freelance theatre workers.
Theatres around the country closed their doors last March amid the global pandemic and only a few were able to re-open with social distancing in between lockdowns last year.
Stars have also been revealing their ‘turning point’ – a moment in their career when they were almost forced to give up but received a helping hand.
Redmayne has revealed the turning point in his career was in 2003 when he was working in a pub and failing to land any parts before someone took a chance on him and cast him in a play.
In Coel’s video, she discusses the two bursaries she received that allowed her to pursue her creative career.
On March 16 they will be joined by more famous faces, theatre lovers and people across the industry sharing selfies in support, using the hashtags #16March, #TheatreArtistsFund and #FirstInLastOut – referencing the fact that theatre workers were first into lockdown and will be among the last to return.
The Theatre Artists Fund was set up in July 2020 by director Sir Sam Mendes, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre.
It has since given out £5.5 million across 5,359 individual grants, made possible by donations from a range of organisations and individuals, including the Backstage Trust.
For Netflix’s movie, centering on the riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the Oscar-winning actor immersed himself in the role of Tom Hayden, activist and former husband of Jane Fonda, while finding parallels to recent events “most revelatory.”
Eddie Redmayne, a 2015 Oscar winner for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, once again takes on the role of a historical figure in Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. As Tom Hayden, the late anti-war activist who was charged alongside six others for inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Redmayne stands out in a star-studded cast that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella and Michael Keaton — all while delivering dialogue written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who also directs. Redmayne spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the camaraderie on set, the ways in which the film parallels America today and some words of wisdom from Hayden’s former wife Jane Fonda.
What were your first reactions to the script?
There was great anticipation when it arrived in my inbox because I am an admirer of Aaron’s work. I’m a slow reader, and it was one of the quickest things I’ve ever read. I had this extraordinary feeling of having just learned about a moment in history that I was pretty ignorant about. It felt almost like a piece of music — clashes of jazz, classical, punk and all in a quite extraordinary story about some quite extraordinary people. There was a lightness of touch to it that was perhaps the most revelatory thing. He made it feel so easy.
Were you familiar with the events depicted in the film before reading the script?
I wasn’t. I’d heard about Abbie Hoffman, but I wouldn’t have been able to place him. I knew little about the peace movement. I had actually just watched the great documentary [The Vietnam War from Ken Burns] and got some insight for the first time, properly, about the war. It was starting to work this job that was an education for me.
What kind of research did you do to learn more about Tom Hayden?
One of the wonderful things about the job we do is you get to immerse yourself in a moment in history, in stories that are extraordinary, and through that immersion, you learn a huge amount. In doing the homework, as it were, I read Tom’s work and found as much footage that I could of him. There were great courtroom sketches of Tom that gave a sense of his physicality — it was almost like seeing him, caught by another artist, revealed something else. But you do the homework, hoping to have it embedded in you, and then [you must] be able to throw it away and play opposite these other actors. Aaron was very open to all of us that this was his version of events. He described it as a painting, not a photograph.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″ director Aaron Sorkin and the film’s cast will receive the Vanguard Award from the Palm Springs International Film Awards.
“‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ is a thrilling court-room drama that chronicles the highlights of the historic trial that sought to punish activists for inciting riots outside of the 1968 Democratic National Convention,” Harold Matzner, the festival chairman, said. “Writer and director Aaron Sorkin has created a thought-provoking film featuring outstanding performances from a powerhouse cast that includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Jeremy Strong and more.”
Past recipients of the ensemble award include Academy Award winners for best picture, such as Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” and Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water.” The Vanguard Award is a group honor distinguishing a film’s cast and director in recognition of their work on a superb film project.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” joins this year’s previously announced honorees Riz Ahmed (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor), Carey Mulligan (International Star Award), Gary Oldman (Chairman’s Award) and Chloé Zhao (Director of the Year Award).
The drama follows the fallout and the infamous trial after what was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard.
Though the Palm Springs Film Festival and gala ceremony will not return until 2022, the festival will honor excellence in film this year at a tribute airing on “Entertainment Tonight” Feb. 11 and Feb. 25. The festival also plans to move ahead with the Palm Springs ShortFest in June. [Source]
Jamie Dornan (“Wild Mountain Thyme”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) sat down for a virtual chat for Variety‘s Actors on Actors, presented by Amazon Studios. For more, click here.
Jamie Dornan and Eddie Redmayne began their time in Hollywood as roommates: Reunited on a video chat a decade later, they reflect on driving their tiny red rental car around Los Angeles, only to be rejected at auditions over and over.
It’s notable that both actors find themselves juggling art-house fare and franchise work, making them two of the most recognizable leading men of their generation. In Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix), Redmayne plays antiwar activist Tom Hayden as he faces federal charges for protesting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. And in John Patrick Shanley’s “Wild Mountain Thyme,” distributed by Bleecker Street, Dornan portrays Anthony, an Irish Mr. Darcy who can’t figure out his feelings for his neighbor (Emily Blunt).
Jamie Dornan: Let’s start by talking about “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and your portrayal of Thomas Hayden. I have to start by saying I didn’t know a lot about that trial. You are brilliant in it, as you are in everything. How was your experience making that movie?
Eddie Redmayne: Thanks for being kind about it. I think you know that Aaron Sorkin has always been someone that I’ve sort of loved, and whose work I’ve been kind of mildly obsessed with. So it was genuinely one of those moments when the script arrived that it sort of felt too good to be true. And I kind of said yes before reading the thing.
There was actually that slight hesitation, when you really love someone’s work, and you can’t quite believe that they’ve invited you to the party. And then there’s the fear of: What if it’s the one shoddy one they do? Because I’ve done that; I’ve worked with brilliant actors who never do bad films, except for the film I do with them. But it was brilliant, and a really riveting read.
Variety and PBS SoCal announced today the actor lineup and schedule for the thirteenth season of their three-time Emmy Award-winning series Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.
The new season was filmed entirely from the actors’ homes and includes exclusive one-on-one conversations between top acting talent from potential contending movies in this year’s Academy Awards race. The episodes will premiere on PBS SoCal on Friday, March 5 at 8:00 pm, 8:30 pm, 9:00 pm and 9:30 pm. All episodes will stream on pbssocal.org and on the free PBS Video app following their premieres.
Variety Studio: Actors on Actors won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2019 and Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards for best entertainment programming in 2015 and 2016. The series was produced by PBS SoCal in partnership with Variety Media, LLC.
Variety’s Actors on Actors issue will hit newsstands on Jan. 20 with clips appearing on Variety.com starting Jan. 19. All Variety.com Actors on Actors videos will be presented by Amazon Studios.
The Trial of Chicago 7 writer-director Aaron Sorkin takes us behind the scenes of his Oscar-buzzed Netflix drama to spotlight the impressive roster of actors that brought this film to life.
In the video above, Sorkin is joined by stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch and Frank Langella as they talk about working as an ensemble in a film that is all-too-relevant for today’s social and political landscape.
Based on a true story, Trial of the Chicago 7 dramatizes the events of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which started off as a peaceful protest but unraveled into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. The organizers of the protest—including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale—were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and the trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history. [Source]
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