Warner Bros. Will Take On Ryan Gosling’s ‘How to Catch a Monster’ + More From ‘Only God Forgives’

Between the production announcements for Wim Wender’s Every Thing Will Be Fine and Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs, this has been a great week for anticipating 2014’s most coveted releases. But just in time for Ryan Gosling to head to Cannes for the premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, it’s been announced that his directorial debut How to Catch a Monster, has been picked up by Warner Bros. Back in January, we reported that English actor Matt Smith, best known for Dr. Who would be leading the picture opposite Christina Hendricks and alongside Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn. 

Penned by Gosling, How to Catch a Monster is a surrealist dreamscape of a film that takes place in a vanishing city, centering on a single mother being swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld when her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an under watch town. It was alluded to a few months ago that the film had some "Lynchian" elements about it—but nowadays that just means it’s probably psychologically stirring with haunting surrealist undertones. However, if it is indeed "Lynchian" in the term’s most academic definition, that would a delight. And for an actor that has been working for over a decade now alongside some of film’s most acclaimed and beloved directors—from Refn to Terrence Malick and Derek Cianfrance—one can only hope that he’s absorbed a bit of their craft, technical skill, and eye for telling authentic and emotional stories in a wonderfully cinematic way. 
But before we can even get our selves excited for How to Catch a Monster, we’re still counting down the days until Only God Forgives rolls into US theaters this July to punch is right in the gut and pack that Refn sense of style and kinetic energy we’ve been missing. So although we’ve seen about a million photos, trailers, clips, etc. for the Thai boxing thriller, there are still more rolling out. Today we’re graced with another poster for the film—a tinted blue design that’s not quite as enticing as the last, but it’s Ryan Gosling, so who’s complaining? The type harkens back to Drive‘s incredible hot pink credits but we’ve been assured by Gosling that this film is much, much different.
So check out the new look at the film, along with a few more photos and read Refn’s full director’s statement below.
The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God. That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life – we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy – and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me.
With that as the concept, I elaborated by adding a character who believes he is God (Chang), obviously the antagonist, with the protagonist being a gangster who is looking for religion to believe in (Julian). This itself is, of course, very existential because faith is based on the need for a higher answer but most of the time, we don’t know what the question is. When the answer comes, then, we must backtrack our lives in order to find the question. In this way, the film is conceived as an answer, with the question revealed at the end.
With hindsight, I am able to see the similarities between Chang and One Eye in Valhalla Rising, and Driver in Drive – all are rooted in fairytale mythology and have difficulties living in the everyday world. I can see that technically, there is a resemblance in their stoic behavior, silence, and fetishistic portraits even though they live in different times and are portrayed by different actors. In Valhalla Rising, One Eye is enigmatic – we don’t know his past but he is defined by his name. In Drive, Driver is defined by his function. And in Only God Forgives, Chang is first of all defined by his enigmatic behaviour, to such an extent that he becomes a disembodied character, an ‘it’, defined not by his name but solely by his image.
In a way, Only God Forgives is like an accumulation of all the films I’ve made so far. I think I was heading toward a creative collision, full speed ahead, in order to change everything around me and to see what would come after. I have always said that I set out to make films about women but I end up making films about violent men. Now that everything is colliding, it may end up turning things upside-down for me. This collision is exciting because everything around me becomes so uncertain and we must not forget that the second enemy of creativity, after having ‘good taste’, is being safe.

Leave Jon Hamm’s Penis Alone!

Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm—who has made it easy for a legion of for bloggers who can just sigh and say, "I dunno, just write something with ‘Jon Hamm’s Penis’ in the headline"—isn’t so thrilled with the attention that the internet has given to his private parts. "They’re called privates," Hamm says in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone. "I mean, it’s not like I’m a fucking lead miner. There are harder jobs in the world. But when people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal." Yes, let the man live and let his balls breathe! They don’t want to be confined to claustrophobic underwear, not even silk boxers. But I get it: Jon Hamm wants to be taken seriously for things other than his penis. Perhaps he can get lunch with co-star Christina Hendricks and her gigantic breasts as a bit of group therapy?

[via E!]

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Eva Mendes Joins Ryan Gosling’s Directorial Debut ‘How to Catch a Monster,’ Obviously

Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes pretty much have it made. They’re both disgustingly beautiful and extremely talented—yes they deserve each other, who else could even compare, right? And after starring together in Derek Cianfrance’s upcoming epic drama, The Place Beyond the Pines—where they got to quality practice in tortured love—the two are now not only making us exceedingly jealous of their love life, but it’s been announced that Mendes will join the cast of Gosling’s directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster.

Now, it’s one thing to fall in love with your co-star, it’s another to star in a film written and directed by your boyfriend. Look what happened to Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty on Reds. "It is always a dicey proposition when an actress works with a star or director—both, in this case—with whom she has an offscreen relationship. ‘It’s like running down a street with a plate of consommé and trying not to spill any,’ Beatty says," as Peter Bart recalled in his Vanity Fair piece "Thunder to the Left."

But anyhow, hoping for the best! And as someone who has had the chance to closely observe the incredible work of everyone from Terrence Malick to Nicolas Winding Ref, let’s assume some of that magic has rubbed off on ol’ Gos and this long-awaited debut will be the energetic kick we’d expect from the talented actor who has constantly morphed himself throughout his career. 

How to Catch a Monster, penned by Gosling, tells the story of Billy, a single mother of two who is swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld while her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an underwater town. Christina Hendricks is set to play the leading role with fellow Pines actor Ben Mendelhson also starring. Mendes looks to be playing "Cat" a prominent figure of the Big Bad Wolf Club. Shooting is scheduled for May with hopefully a festival release the following year.

Last question: Does this mean Dead Man’s Bones will be scoring the film?! I certainly hope so.

2013 Looks to be the Year of Ben Mendelsohn

Yes, I can feel it—2013 will finally be the year America falls in love with Ben Mendelsohn. Although having worked in the industry for decades now, it was only until 2010’s Animal Kingdom that the Australian actor started garnering attention stateside—and rightfully so. You may have caught a glimpse of him in Terrence Malick’s The New World or Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, but it was his performance in this fall’s Killing Them Softly that got my full attention and made me want to see more of the man who seems to have an affinity for intense characters on the fringe.

In Andrew Dominik’s politically charged crime drama, he played opposite Scoot McNairy—to which Dominik said, "[he’s] someone I’ve known since we were teenagers…I knew that that character was something he could do with his one arm tied behind his back." To my dismay, Killing Them Softly seemed to be either panned or overlooked by critics, which is a shame not only for Dominik and his fantastic directorial ability, for the actors involved. Ben gave a memorable performance in his supporting role, but what stood out the most was the fact that amongst the likes of Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini, McNairy not only held his own but outshined everyone. Anyhow, Mendelsohn can next be found alongside Ryan Gosling in Derek Cianfrance’s incredible sprawling triptych drama, The Place Beyond the Pines. It also appears Gosling has cast him to star in his upcoming directorial debut How to Catch a Monster with Christina Hendricks

But as of late, it’s been reported that Mendelsohn will star in Mississippi Grind with Jake Gyllenhaal, a new independent drama from the people who brought you 2006’s Gosling-helmed feature, Half Nelson. Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s film will follow “a down-on-his-luck gambler (Mendelsohn) facing crushing debt who teams up with a younger gambling addict (Gyllenhaal) in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what has been lost.” 

Well, this is exactly what I like to hear. The more Mendelsohn, the better. Enjoy this brief clip from Pines.

Christina Hendricks’ Advice On How To Do A Joan Holloway Costume

A disappointing Joan Holloway Halloween costume is a serious offense.

Christina Hendricks told NYmag’s Vulture on how every Halloween people send her photos of Joan Holloway costumes, but the only Joan she has actually seen in person was a Mad Men co-star.

The funny thing is people will send me pictures of Joan Holloways at parties they’re at, but the only one I’ve seen in person is Rich Sommer, who actually plays Harry Crane on ‘Mad Men’! He dressed as Joan one year, but he actually looked a little more like Wilma Flintstone. He had pearls and a red wig. [Vulture: What, no pendant necklace?] That’s what I told him! I said, ‘You never see Joan wearing pearls.’ But I was flattered.

No pendant necklace? I expected better from you, Rich Sommer.

Let this be a less to you this Halloween, kiddies: unless you want to make Christina Hendricks cry — you don’t want to make Christina Hendricks cry, don’t you? — remember: NO PEARLS.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Christina Hendricks Schools Reporter On “Full Figured” Comments

Gawd. If I have to read another interview with Patton Oswalt, Horatio Sanz, or Louis C.K. asking them about their weight, I am going to scream. Doesn’t the media respect that these men are actors? That they might want to discuss their craft and not their waistband size? … wrote no one ever. 

Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks is another story, precisely because she is a woman. Now, in fairness, she herself has not always separated her craft from her body image. She’s talked in interviews about embracing her figure and shared costumer Janie Bryant’s dressing tips. Hendricks’ juggernaut of fame has been in part due to her sharing her curvaceaous white girl-ness. Yet understandably, it’s not all there is to her. She’s an actress. Yet as Emma Stone pointed out with Spider Man co-star/boyfriend Andrew Garfield when she commented "You get asked interesting poignant questions because you are a boy. … I get asked about relationships and stuff a hell of a lot more than [Andrew Garfield] does," the media is all too happy to ask actresses fluffier questions they would not dream of asking men.

This week, Christina Hendricks finally had enough. In an interview with Sydney’s Sun-Herald about an eyewear line, she got justifiably snippy with a reporter who repeatedly pressed her with questions about being a "full figured woman."  Reporter Kate Waterhouse asked, "You have been an inspiration as a full-figured woman. What is the most inspiring story that you can remember where you inspired someone?" Hendricks apparently started laughing awkwardly and said "I don’t know." Waterhouse then asked the same question a different way while still using the phrase "full figured woman." Hendricks then interrupts and says, "I mean, you’ve just said it again." The interview continues, but Hendricks reportedly said at the end, off-camera, "I think calling me full-figured is just rude." (You can watch the video here)

Was it the term "full-figured woman" that Christina Hendricks objected to? Is she over being asked about her body? There isn’t enough information is this one little snippet. Either way, I hope this serves as a warning to reporters who interview her in the future. Maybe they can brush up on some questions that Jon Hamm gets asked.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

Exclusive Video of Our March Cover Girl Christina Hendricks

Mad Men beauty Christina Hendricks covers our Spring Fashion Issue this month, revealing how playing saucy office manager Joan Holloway for five seasons has shaped her own personal life. Hendricks posed for a gorgeous photo shoot in L.A., and now we have an exclusive video that features Hendricks in all her glory. Check it out after the jump!

Morning Links: Big Weekend for Celebrity Photo Leaks, Adele’s Mansion is Haunted

● "Busy day in the world of nude leaks," reported TMZ, after self-shot and nearly-nude photos of the oft lusted for Olivia Munn and Christina Hendricks hit the net yesterday. Neither woman is taking credit. [TMZ/TMZ]

● In conversation with Piers Morgan on CNN, born-again Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron called homosexuality "unnatural," "detrimental," and "destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." GLAAD has criticized his comments for being "out of step with a vast majority of Americans," while Morgan has defended them as "brave." [Us]

● Insane Clown Posse has set up a Facebook equivalent for their Faygo chugging fans called JuggaloBook.com. [NME]

● Adele refuses to sleep alone in her new 10-bedroom and two-swimming-pool mansion because she is afraid that it is haunted. [The Sun]

● Jennifer Aniston says that living in New York felt like living "in a fishbowl." "It didn’t feel like the New York I grew up in and knew," she said, adding that her "happiness-level" is at a "10-plus" now that she’s out in Los Angeles. [People]

● Taylor Swift wears a Kanye West-designed top in this month’s Bazaar magazine. She’s over it. [KarenCivil]

● Willow Smith and Pharrell got the same haircut. [JustJared/Rap-Up]

Christina Hendricks on ‘Mad Men’, Sexual Confidence, and Her Early Goth Days

On a bright January afternoon, I meet Christina Hendricks at Dusty’s, a rustic French-American bistro in Silver Lake. It’s one of her favorite spots to eat in Los Angeles, and not far from her home. The 36-year-old actor, dressed in a fetching black dress that clings to her famous curves, strides confidently to the table, seeming supremely comfortable in her body. It’s a body that, thanks to an assembly line of red carpet appearances, provocative magazine spreads, and her standout role as sumptuous secretary Joan Holloway on AMC’s flagship drama, Mad Men, has become a national obsession. It drives men to helpless, testosterone-fueled fantasies, and women to reevaluate traditional Hollywood notions of beauty—maybe the spotlight isn’t only for the thin and waifish after all? But today, Hendricks, whose trademark crimson hair is partially concealed under a snug, black-and-white knit cap, blends in with the rest of the diners, almost. In the dim lighting, her alabaster skin is almost translucent, and as a lighter version of that familiar, breathy voice rolls across the table at me like wisps of smoke, hints of Joan Holloway creep through.

When Mad Men first premiered in 2007, it surprised everybody. HBO passed on the drama that centered around an advertising agency in 1960s Manhattan, laying bare the sexism, homophobia, and racism of the era. The show eventually found a home on upstart network AMC, and turned its relatively unknown cast, including Hendricks, into overnight stars. “Everyone seems the same, which is nice,” says Hendricks of her costars, which include Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss. “If there was a difference from Season 1, it’s that everyone’s on their cell phones a lot more because our managers and publicists are always calling.”

For those who have yet to plunge into Mad Men‘s martini-drenched universe, Joan Holloway is a brassy office manager and den mother to all the other women at Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and a pro at hypnotizing ad men with a glance of those cerulean eyes or a swivel of those hourglass hips. Over the course of four seasons, we’ve watched as she batted away constant harassment using her own sexuality as ammo, carried on a torrid affair with one of the company’s founders, and finally managed to land a doctor husband, though not before he sexually assaults her in her workplace. (They still managed to make their dinner reservation.) When we last saw her, Holloway had transformed into a homemaker, though a danger-fueled liaison left her pregnant with the child of her former boss.

“The amazing thing about Joan is how confident she is,” Hendricks says, between sips of Sancerre and nibbles on french fries. “I was never that confident. When we shot the pilot I was like, Who is this woman? I’m not friends with people like that.” But today, her self-confidence is brimming. Starring on a hit show might do that to a girl, but Hendricks admits that Joan’s sass was contagious. “She’s living in the ’60s, but she uses sexual innuendo, which is taboo. Because of that—and a very tight green dress—she became a sexual character. She was very openly saying, I have sex, and I don’t care if you judge me. I’m not going to apologize for who I am. Those qualities resonated with people, and have given me confidence.”

She’s a character that, like Hendricks herself, has experienced some of womanhood’s watershed moments in the five years we’ve known her. “Just as I have changed, and as significant things have happened in my life, like getting married and moving into a new home, Joan has gotten married and gotten pregnant,” Hendricks says. All of this has added up to a softer Joan Holloway, who once teased a white colleague for seeing a black woman. “She was a lot bitchier than she is now. She’s mellowed out and wised up. With the more responsibility that she’s gotten at work and in her life, she can’t be as flip as she was. There’s a lot more on her shoulders these days. ”

Growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hendricks had no inkling of the Tinseltown success that awaited her. With her mother, a psychologist, and her British father, whose job working for the US Forest Service caused them to move often, Hendricks dotted the country throughout her childhood, spending swathes of her youth in places like Twin Falls, Idaho, and Fairfax, Virginia. In her teens, she acted in community theater and did ballet, experiences that ignited a passion for performance. “I studied pretty much everyday,” says Hendricks of her stint as a dancer. “Then, when I was 15, I realized I wasn’t going to be a professional dancer and I sort of had to readjust. I already knew that performance was something that made me happy,” she says.

Before she discovered acting, Hendricks expressed herself through fashion. “When I was in junior high, I was sewing my own clothes,” she says. “I had these looks. Sometimes they were very tragic. I wore a pair of green, silk, MC Hammer–style pants with the low crotch, Birkenstocks, and my hair in a turban. What that look was, I don’t know, but it was kind of amazing.” In high school, she embraced goth culture, and the black fishnets and makeup that came with it. “I wasn’t one of those sloppy, dirty goths. I thought it was very beautiful and I went out of my way to do it right, in a very high-fashion kind of way.” (Of Mad Men’s influence on her current style, she says, “I now have a section in my closet devoted to pencil skirts.”)

When Hendricks eventually moved with her mother to Los Angeles after her parents split up, she had an epiphany that a career in show business was possible. After considering a job at a record label—she had some friends in the music industry—she began booking modeling gigs, which led to commercial work. “It all happened naturally,” she says. She was surviving off guest spots on shows like ER and Joss Whedon’s sci-fi soap, Firefly, when the script for Mad Men gave her the opportunity to play a new type of character. “I was surprised to get the role of Joan, since I’d always played these socially awkward, quirky, best friend characters,” she says. “I’d audition for cop and lawyer characters, and everyone would say that I was too soft.”

Hendricks wrapped filming on Mad Men’s fifth season a few days before we meet—“It went by in a blink,” she says—and while I press her for plot details, she has by now mastered the art of revealing everything and nothing at the same time. “A lot happens this year,” she says with a coy smile. “Last year was building up to what was going to happen with Don and Betty, and although there’s that, so much happens with each character this season that we were all like, Whoa.” When I ask about Joan specifically, she demurely shakes her head. “All I can say is a lot happens to Joan.”

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner knows how lucky he is to have discovered Christina Hendricks. “Christina turned what I conceived to be a businesslike and glib gal pal into a substantial, ambitious woman filled with sexual confidence,” he says. There’s no denying that the character of a 1960s secretary could have been something trite, but with Hendricks breathing life into her, she became a force from which even other characters were able to draw strength—in particular, uptight and ambitious female ad exec Peggy Olson, played by Moss. “That’s one of the reasons I got to continue on the show. Matthew Weiner saw that they complement each other so much… they’re sort of the yin and yang,” Hendricks says.

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Hendricks embodying Joan Holloway, but for all the praise her performance attracts—she’s been nominated for two Emmys for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress—talk invariably turns back to that bodacious, unavoidable figure. It’s not something that Hendricks, who sees herself as an actress, not a sex symbol, is thrilled about. “My husband makes me feel sexy, and I’ve always been really comfortable in my skin, but I’m really just a girl who would prefer talking about my acting rather than my body,” she says. “But,” she adds, “I’m a very comfortable naked person. Not in front of other people, but at home and in front of my husband, I feel good not wearing clothes.”

Hendricks’ husband is Geoffrey Arend, a gangly actor best known for his roles in Super Troopers and 500 Days of Summer. Thanks to his glamorous bride, he’s been blinded by more flashbulbs in the last three years than most people see in a lifetime. (He’s also been texting her sweet nothings all morning, she says.) When they married after a brief courtship in 2009, People magazine gave Arend the “Luckiest S.O.B.” award, but it’s Hendricks who considers herself the fortunate one. She says she fell in love with Arend so instantaneously that it freaked him out a little, though, as she tells it, it didn’t take long to put a spell on him. Today, they enjoy a solid relationship—an endangered species in Hollywood—which Hendricks credits to just working on it. “People don’t want to work at marriage anymore,” she says. “Even a really great friendship is a lot of work, but sometimes people stay together forever and they’re miserable. There has to be a middle ground.”

With Mad Men renewed for at least another season, Hendricks isn’t leaving mid-century Manhattan just yet. The savvy actor is already balancing out her filmography with supporting parts in mainstream attractions like the treacly Sarah Jessica Parker workplace comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It, plus surprising appearances in edgier art-house experiments like Tony Kaye’s education system takedown Detachment. After seeing the ultraviolent prison saga Bronson, she decided she had to work with its director, the Danish provocateur Nicolas Windig Refn. “Whatever that guy does, I knew I wanted to work with him, and then Drive came up,” she says, referring to his pulsating, neo-noir thriller about a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver. Hendricks had her eye on the role of a deceitful rogue named Blanche, opposite Ryan Gosling, and while the gritty part was a detour from the glamour audiences have come to expect from her, Hendricks approached Refn anyway, asking to meet. He revealed he’d been interviewing strippers for the role and, to his surprise, discovered none of them could act. (“That’s because they’re not actresses, they’re strippers,” she told him, sagely.) Drive became a cult smash, and audiences were shocked by Blanche’s gruesome fate. (Spoiler alert: A shotgun blows Hendricks’ head to fleshy smithereens.) “I wasn’t making a point of doing the opposite of Mad Men,” she says. “I just wanted to work with this guy, but now he’s a fan of the show.” Such a fan that Refn publicly vowed to bring the DC Comics character Wonder Woman to the screen, with Hendricks wielding the Amazonian goddess’ golden lasso.

Besides the prospect of her very own superhero franchise, Hendricks is keeping busy with more terrestrial projects. Thanks to a contract dispute between AMC and Weiner, there was an unusual year-long break between the shooting of Mad Men’s fourth and fifth seasons, and Hendricks isn’t standing idly by waiting for season six to commence production. Instead, she’ll fly to London shortly to begin work on Bomb, yet another ’60s drama where she’ll play mother to Elle Fanning in a family of radicals. Hendricks also recently wrapped Struck by Lightning, a coming-of-age tale written by Glee’s Chris Colfer. But she’s most excited about the possibility of working on Neil LaBute’s Seconds of Pleasure, a movie about the interconnected lives of people traveling on the same airplane.

Hendricks knows that eventually Matthew Weiner will write his grand finale, the set of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will be broken down for good, and she will have to move on. She takes none of it for granted. “The idea that we have two seasons left is a bit daunting. It’s been nice to have security. A lot of us have been around for a while. We know how cyclical this stuff is and how fleeting it can be, so the idea that the show will end is certainly bubbling inside of me, but I’ve never had a plan.”

Photography by Kurt Iswarienko. Styling by Christopher Campbell.