13 Steamiest Golden Globe Nominees

Photo: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

Award show season has (unofficially) begun! Call your stylist and snag a Valentino fresh off the runway to ensure you’ll look your best on the step and repeat. For this set of 2014 Golden Globe nominees, looking their hottest wont take much. Keira Knightly could show up in a maternity dress and still be the hottest dime on the red carpet.

1. Jennifer Aniston, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for CakeThe Cinema Society & InStyle host a screening of CakePhoto: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

2. Julianne Moore, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for Still Alice L'ORÉAL PARIS 2014 Women of Worth Celebration ArrivalsPhoto: Ryan Kobane/BFAnyc.com

3. Benedict Cumberbatch, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama for The Imitation Game David-X-PruttingPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

4. Reese Witherspoon, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for Wild John-SalangsangPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

5. Jake Gyllenhaal, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama for NightcrawlerCarly-OtnessPhoto: Carly Otness/BFAnyc.com

6. Eddie Redmayne, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama for The Theory of Everything 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards - Press RoomPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

7. Amy Adams, nominated for Best Performance By an Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy for Big Eyes LACMA 2014 Art+Film Gala sponsored by GUCCIPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

8. Emily Blunt, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical for Into The Woods Los Angeles Premiere of Cinedigmís ARTHUR NEWMANPhoto: Aleks Kocev/BFAnyc.com

9. Jessica Chastain, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for A Most Violent Year GIORGIO ARMANI hosts the official premiere & after party of A MOST VIOLENT YEAR with OSCAR ISAAC and JESSICA CHASTAINPhoto: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

10. Keira Knightley, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in The Imitation Game David-XPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

11. Emma Stone, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Birdman Julian-MacklerPhoto: Juliane Mackler/BFAnyc.com

12. Ethan Hawke, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Boyhood Matteo-Prandoni-2Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

13. Mark Ruffalo, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Foxcatcher Ben-RosserPhoto: Ben Rosser/BFAnyc.com

Who’s Your Best Dressed? Our Most Stylish Party Goers of the Week

Photo: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

Your favorite party-goers were white hot this week. Awards were given in Los Angeles and socialites swooned at the Cartier party in New York. Through all the fabulous gowns and daring jumpsuits we’ve narrowed down our favorite looks of the week. Who gets your vote for best dressed?

1. Gigi Hadid at the MAC Cosmetics x Prabal Gurung Launch in New York David-X-pruttingPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

2. Chiara Ferragni at Panthere de Cartier party in New York Panthere de CARTIER PartyPhoto: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com

3. Hannah Bronfman at Panthere de Cartier party in New YorkPanthere de CARTIER PartyPhoto: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com

4. Natalia Vodianova at Amex’s evening celebrating Stella McCartney in New YorkAN EVENING HONORING STELLA McCARTNEY PRESENTED BY AMERICAN EXPRESSPhoto: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

5. Carolyn Murphy at Amex’s evening celebrating Stella McCartney in New York Joe-Schildhorn-2Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

6. January Jones at Vogue’s Toast to Jimmy Choo’s Cruise 2015 Collection in New YorkOwen-KolasinskiPhoto: Owen Kolasinski/BFAnyc.com

7. Emily Ratajkowski at the Hollywood Film Awards in L.A. 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards - ArrivalsPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

8. Julianne Moore at the Hollywood Film Awards in L.A. 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards - ArrivalsPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

9. Kristen Stewart at the Hollywood Film Awards in L.A. 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards - ArrivalsPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

10. Keira Knightley at the Hollywood Film Awards in L.A. 18th Annual Hollywood Film Awards - ArrivalsPhoto: John Salangsang/BFAnyc.com

The Quiet Terror of Todd Haynes’s ‘Safe’

My first viewing of Todd Haynes’ quiet psychological horror film Safe came unfortunately late in life.  I only wish I could have seen it sooner, devoured it earlier, and let it live inside me for longer. But upon my first watching last winter, I had to pause the film after about fifteen minutes to text a friend. “Hey, so is the sound in Safe as unsettling and disorienting as it seems or did I just find a really janky version online?” “Oh no, that’s just the movie. Continue on,” he replied. And as the film continued to unspool and show its brilliance, I realized the power of deteriorating world Haynes had created.

“I agree with Fassbinder who said, ‘revolution doesn’t belong on the cinema screen, but outside, in the world,’” Haynes said in the linear notes for Safe’s soundtrack. And as one of his best features, rather than handing his audience a solution or spelling out exactly what he was trying to say, he opted to show us and make us feel his motives and desires—’to give them the revolution is to deprive them of the necessity of creating their own. Viewers of film have extraordinary powers: they can make life out of reflections on the wall,” he said. And as someone who favors the work of directors such as Chantal Ackerman, who chooses to expose the moments most filmmakers would leave behind or cut out in order to allow the viewer to impress themselves into the storytelling and create a genuine curiosity, Safe was born out of a “strict opposition to current trends in movies,” and distaste for Hollywood’s “histrionics and technological gimmickry” which leave you numb.”

Starring the incomparable Julianne Moore, in a time when she was just beginning to play a string of career-changing roles, Safe tells a hysterical story lurking behind the pleasant facades and perfectly manicured lawns of suburbia. Set in the San Fernando Valley in 1987, the film follows Moore as Carol White, a normal housewife who develops a “Twentieth Century disease”—MCS, a chemical sensitive triggered by the manufactured environment, triggered by chemicals found in household and industrial products. As she begins to get sick, we watch her fragile body breakdown and become inundated with worsening symptoms and bodily reactions—nosebleeds, convulsions, the inability to breathe, fatigue, etc. No one knows quite how to help her and as she begins to deteriorate further with doctors at a loss, she begins to attend psychotherapy and eventually ends up a New Age retreat in the desert. Completely isolated, quarantined, it’s there she is sent to recover. But as Haynes mentions: “Safe is a movie: It tells lies. But unlike most movies, Safe lies on purpose.”

My initial reaction to the sounds of the Safe’s world are precisely what the director intended—what we hear and what we see, in opposition to one another. “The film’s cool presentation dehumanizes the affluence of the suburban Los Angeles; just as the mysteries of the environmental illness undermine the surety of New Age thought.” And its in the films score that this dichotomy exist so strongly and rise and cover the surface of  the film with ominous force. In his linear notes for the film’s soundtrack, Haynes notes:

 What matters is not composition but instrumentation: the way the sounds are treated, layered, lacquered. The reverberation of analogue synthesis as opposed to the cleanness of digital recording. Random experimentation. Mistakes. I watched as Ed, stealing sounds from the pits of tenement piping or the cacophonous mass of his industrial orchestra, collected raw material for his own brand of aural alchemy.

 In strict opposition to current trends in movies, I wanted to tell a story as quietly as possible. The result, in every aspect, is a minimalist film: from Julianne Moore’s courageous simplicity and Alex Nepomniaschy’s immaculate camera, to the bristling composure of James Lyons’ cutting and the quiet force of Ed’s music. This restraint provides spaces for the person watching, resulting in a film that cannot be read literally. Instead, the steps we take toward understanding Carol’s illness are weighted with a sense of the inexplicable – of a mystery unfolding. Ed’s music plays an essential role in that mystery.

But the psychological and emotional devastation of the film are so subtly potent and creeping, you may not even notice its effect until the end of the picture, but oh, do they linger on after. It’s a film about a woman who “develops an allergy to the 20th century”—and where does one find a cure for that in this world? The restraint and dread comes in the films quiet moments and since its release in 1995, there really had been nothing like it.

And to my great delight, this weekend the Museum of the Moving Image will be screening Safe on Sunday as part of their Julianne Moore series. You can purchase your tickets HERE, but in the meantime, check out the trailer for the feature, as well as a hour-long conversation between  J. Hoberman and Todd Haynes.

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A Closer Look at Julianne Moore’s Incredible Sarah Palin Transformation

We don’t know about you, but while others spent their Saturday night socializing with the outside world at various parties and events, we stayed glued to our couches to watch the highly-anticipated political docu-drama, Game Change. The HBO film directed by Jay Roach is based on the bestselling book of the same name, which recounts the 2008 US presidential election and the now infamous vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. As we hoped, the film was really, really good and left us all wondering: how the hell did Julianna Moore turn into Sarah Palin’s doppelganger? 

According to People, Moore’s transformation process wasn’t easy: it took more than two hours in meticulous hair and makeup to perfect Palin’s signature big eyes and bigger hair. For her bright peepers, Moore said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that they made "the iris on the contact lens larger than [her] iris so [her] eyes would look bigger." There was also a lot of contouring in the makeup chair to match Palin’s shape, as well as daily drawn-on lips and a deep tan to cover Moore’s freckles. A bouffant wig and fake nails also completed the look.

As for the accessories, Moore wore the same specs that the former Governor of Alaska wore and the clothes were replicas of the same "pricey wardrobe" from Neiman’s and Saks Fifth Avenue that she was slammed for during the campaign (though no brand names were dropped). 

We imagine Tina Fey’s transformation would have taken less time (she truly is a spitting image), but Moore definitely did the dramatic role justice. 

Photo via TV Informant

Watch the First Trailer for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Don Jon’

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been acting for most of his young life. And in that time, he’s gotten quite a film ducation, having worked with everyone from his pal, the wonderful Rian Johnson to Gregg Araki, Christopher Nolan, and Steven Spielberg, taking on a varied array of roles, swiftly moving from young actor on the rise to one of the most sought after men in Hollywood. But only naturally, after being in the industry so long, JGL caught the filmmaking bug himself and this October, we’ll see his first stab at writing and directing his own full-length feature, Don Jon.

As a juiced-up sexual comedy, the film tackles one man’s struggle between the allure and satisfaction of fantasy and the vulnerability and intimacy of reality. As a young bachelor bartender focused on nothing more than his cars, his family, getting ladies, and working out, when he meets the girl of his dreams his world suddenly gets thrown off-kilter. Starring in the film himself alongside Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, and Tony Danza, JGL now gives us the first taste of his feature with a energetic trailer for Don Jon.

Check it out for yourself HERE.
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David Siegel and Scott McGehee On Directing Their New Family Drama ‘What Maisie Knew’

Since its release in 1979, Kramer vs. Kramer has set the bar for family dramas dealing with divorce and the children caught in its wake. But whereas most films follow the struggle both adults face to fight for parental control over their children, or deal with the heartbreaking acceptance of love’s end, there are few portrayals from the point of view of the kid caught in between. There are even fewer films that deal with parents who really have no desire to be so, adults who are more focused on themselves than taking responsibility for the child they’ve brought into the world. But with David Siegel and Scott McGehee’s modern retelling of Henry James’ What Maisie Knew, we see the trials of divorce through the eyes of a precious and wise six-year-old girl. 

Starring bright new talent Onata Aprile in the titular role, alongside Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as her egocentric parents, we follow Maisie as she finds herself shuffled from one parent to another, and eventually onto their respective new spouses. From her perspective we gain a heartbreaking look at abandonment and the adults who are blind to their own wrongdoings. 

No strangers to familial subject matter, Siegel and McGehee have directed Suture, Bee Season, Uncertainty, and The Deep End together, examining their affinity for portraying authentic drama in extreme circumstances. And with What Maisie Knew, they give us a thorough and emotional take on a family split apart, and the young girl who shows more strength than anyone.

Last week, I sat down with the directors and a select few other writers to discuss bringing the script to life, discovering Onata, and showing a different side to their actors.

The film ends on a elliptical note, we’re left wondering what’s going to happen to this girl. Did you want the ending to be ambitious?

Scott McGhee: We talked a lot about that ending, and what we’ve done with that is give you an image go a girl on her way. That was the concept, she’s on her way down the dock, she’s got a destination in mind and that’s where the film leaves you, with a girl in motion. That was very deliberate. 
David Siegel: I liked the metaphor of her being in the process of things, as opposed to drawing any kind of conclusion. But something redemptive might have happened between her and her mother in the previous scene and she’s willing to take a step asserting herself and her mother is willing to take a step in listening to her.

How did you two work as director’s to evolve the script and bring it to life?
SM: As always when you’re making a film, things evolve as we work with the writers and work with the actors on set. And certainly Steve Coogan had some good ideas for lines and those found their way into the finished film. We worked on one of the later scenes with Julianne Moore on how she could work best with Onata in the scene where they’re saying goodbye. And in the editing process, of course it evolves further. But it was a very strong script to begin with.
DS: This movie in particular, especially because it’s told elliptically in these little moments that Maisie actually sees, involved a lot of discerning how much of that actually needed to be included to tell the background story of what’s happening for the adults. That was a big difference.
 
Can you tell me about discovering Onata and how she came to be in the film?
DS: The idea of a six-year-old carrying a movie was that not appealing to us originally—that’s a little bit terrifying. But we knew that was going to be the case no matter what we did with the film—how we shot it, whether it was beautiful or ugly, or how the other actors performances would be—it really came down to whether you would believe the experience of the six-year-old. In retrospect, we always say why would we have never started pre-production before having found that six-year-old, but in fact we did and we didn’t find her until a few weeks before shooting.
SC: We work with a very calming casting director who kept telling us, don’t worry you’re going to find the perfect girl. 
 
Did you know instantly when you met her that she was your Maisie?
SM: It was instant that we knew, but it took a minute before we trusted our instinct. 
DS: What I would add to that, we saw scores and scores of girls and Onata was the first girl who, when we sat down,  we looked at each other and were like, this is a special kid. Not that these other girls weren’t talented, but we really believed we needed a child that could convey that sense that not many actors can: that you’re actually going into their head and watching them think.
SM: We didn’t have something specific she had to be but we all knew it would be a matter of when we me her we would know. It was a learning process for us even, we thought what we needed to find is a slightly older girl who can play younger, because then she’ll be more mature and easier to work with. But we learned that, no, in fact six-year-olds are really special. And there’s something uniquely innocent about them that really reads on camera, and no seven-year-old even is going to give us that. So it was a process for all of us, and Onata was a culmination of that.
DS: What was amazing about Onata is that she really is an amazing child. She was able to live in front of a camera in a way that a lot of actors really work long and hard at getting back to—a very simple being in front of a camera and that’s what she was so good at. So explaining a scenerio for her, she could just imagine it and be in it. When it came to dialogue, her mom would prepared so, to shift up the dialogue, that was a little difficult because it was stuck in her head and she worked hard to learn it. But you could shift up her environment, she would just live.
SM: Sometimes Steve Coogan would go off script and she was always right there with him. Like when he comes out of the elevator and says, "You’re my sixth favorite girl." Every time he came out of the elevator he would say something different and she would just react to what her daddy was telling her—like when she says "Who are your other girls?" that was just her begin in the moment. She was prepared for every scene so she understood what the emotional stakes were for every scene. 
 
There are some very intense moments and arguments in the film—how did you prep Onata before these scenes?
DS: Julianne and Steve were really good with her. Before each uncomfortable scene Julianne would sit her down and say, "Remember I’m pretending—I might yell, I might cry, but it’s all pretend." Sometimes Julie would cry and we would call cut and Onata would start giggling because she found it so amusing that she was pretending that far. 
SM: It’s something we talked about in particular because Julianne has kids and played a lot of moms over the years, so she had a lot of wisdom about how to protect a kid and make an environment hat was comfortable. It turned out that Onata needed less of that special care. She was a pretty equipt, a adaptable child.
 
Julianne and Steve’s characters were both so selfish and at times cruel but they weren’t completely evil. You could still tell that there was a deep love there that they weren’t able to fulfill the responsibility of. What did they each bring to these roles?
DS: Thanks, that was something we did talk to them a lot about, because we felt like if there wasn’t some sort of humanity at the core of their characters they would just seem like bitter people who were ego-obsessed—which they are—but there needed to be something fundamentally there. But Julianne had read the script before we expressed interest, so that was one of the first things that happened: we met with her and tried to see if we could make it and we never thought of anyone else because of that and she was so right for the role. We were really enamored of that idea from the get-go—and this rarely happens, at least in our little career, Steve was our first choice and that’s what happened. It just went very smoothly. We liked that he would also bring a little humor. 
 
Julianne has played a lot of mothers but this was still a very different kind of roles for her. The same goes for Alex as well whose character was more vulnerable than we usually see him. And in terms of his physicality, he was always slouching and seemed very insecure.
SM: Well, Julianne expressed interest before we did—
DS: But I think that was something she wanted to explore something different.
SM: And the singing was something she’d never done before and something she was afraid of, but I think that says a lot about her as an actress—that something that scared her really attracted her and she wanted to give it to go. And with Alex, that was something that interested us. We hadn’t seen him do that much. We’d seen True Blood and we knew from Zoolander that he could be light and funny. But when we met him, he has a real gentleness to him in person and we just thought the idea of this gigantic, gentle giant handsome guy bonding with this really tiny little girl.
DS: And he brought that physicality to it, those were Alexander’s idea. We thought that was pretty terrific, to make his physicality vulnerable like his character might be, and that would tie him to the child a little bit more. From the first time she met him she kind of fell in love with him and the two of them, hey don’t see each other much anymore, but when they do it’s pretty sweet.

Getting to the Heart of ‘What Maisie Knew’ With Julianne Moore

Upon seeing her volatile pharmacy breakdown in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, I become immediately enraptured by Julianne Moore. Here was this porcelain skin, fragile beauty completely enraged, in the throws of an emotional collapse to an almost melodramatic point, and it was glorious—her performance throughout that entire film scarred me in the most wonderful way. And as I became acquainted with her earlier work, from Short Cuts and Safe to Boogie Nights and Far From Heaven, I only became even more taken with the evolution of this prolific and versatile actress and her incredible ability to portray the deepest emotions of everyday life.

And throughout her vast career, she has taken on some of the most fiercely-charged female roles, working with cinema’s most acclaimed directors, continuously proving what a rare and marvelous staple she has become in Hollywood. This year alone, we’ll see her star in Don Jon, The English Teacher, Carrie, and The Seventh Son, before heading into production on David Cronenberg’s latest, Map to the Stars. But in theaters now is her latest film, Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s heartbreaking family drama, What Maisie Knew

As a modern reworking of Henry James’ late 19-century novel of the same title, the film centers on a wise young girl caught amidst her parent’s bitter custody battle. It’s not simply a film about a family torn apart, rather, the movie takes a close look a Maisie (played by Onata Aprile) and as she finds herself abandoned by Susanna and Beale, parents too consumed by their own egos to properly take care of their child. And in the film, Moore plays Susanna, an established yet erratic rock star who loves her daughter yet is not fit to be the mother she deserves. It’s a struggle to watch someone neglect such a delightful young person but Moore takes on the role with conviction, shedding her real-life persona of incredibly caring woman and mother to portray someone so wrapped up in their own ambitions, they fail to devote their affections anywhere but inward. In addition, we also see an edgier side to Moore as she channels her inner rocker and shows us her musically adept side, which as she claims, was not an easy feat. 

Last week, it was my pleasure to sit down with Moore, alongside a selection of other writers to discuss the difficulties of playing Susanna, working with the talented Onata Aprile, and her own directorial ambitions.

So your character Susanna is not just a singer but a rocker. Were there any female musicians that you looked to for inspiration?
Well, the three I looked at the most were Patti Smith, Courtney Love, and Alison Mosshart. I looked at a lot of Hole footage and listened to a lot of Patti. The Kills gave us the songs for the film and Alison was so sweet. She’s very the coolest girl in the world and so kind, encouraging, and really nicer than she needed to be about me singing her songs. I also love her look.
 
And were you actually performing with a live audience?
Yes—well, it was about four people deep. We actually shot that video part after I shot English Teacher. So I shot Maisie, English Teacher, and then I had to come back to do the video. We actually probably only had about ten extras, but we just moved them around and made it look dense.
 
Were you comfortable on stage singing?
Oh, no. It was embarrassing; it’s hard it do! It’s certainly not something that comes naturally to me. Our sound guy was so great though and so encouraging. He knows musicians and didn’t make me feel like an idiot.
 
So you’re not one for karaoke?
No! my daughter, who is 11, she said to me, "You know Mommy, we should all do karaoke." But I don’t understand
karaoke, it seems so scary to me.
 
You’ve played so many wonderful, challenging, and varied roles throughout your career, was this element of doing something totally new what intrigued you about the film—not only in terms of the singing.
Yes, certainly the musician part; that was really challenging. I don’t play the guitar and I had to learn those chords and how to sing and all that. Also, I’m not inherently that cool, so it was a real stretch for me. But I loved the story and I liked the idea that this person was not able to parent—even though she thought she had the desire to do it, she didn’t have the ability to do it. I had to face that at the end of the movie. My favorite line, and the one that’s the most painful too is, "You know who your mother is, right?" She knows that that’s all she’s able to offer that child, and she is her mother and she does love her, but she’s not going to be able to parent her. It’s awful.
 
Do you think your character would have fought more to get her back in the end?
No, she doesn’t want to; that’s what’s sad. I think she feels like she’s let off the hook. She knows she’s not a good parent and she’s a musician, that’s all she wants and that’s how she communicates with the world. She doesn’t have a  relationship with her child, with her husband, with her boyfriend, she has it with her music. So she loves this girl and knows she should take care of her but she’s not able to. And she finally realizes she is a bad mother and probably the best thing she can do is to let someone else really care for her. It’s terrible.
 
Have you ever known anyone like that?
No. She’s bad.
 
To really get inside of Susanna’s psychology, how did you see her?
Her relationship is not with people, it’s with her music. And she probably had a mother just like she is, and she thinks she’s not like her own mother and then she realizes oh my god look what I did to this child. In that sense of her feeling like she’s let off the hook, it’s as if she knows she can’t do this—I don’t want to do this, I’m going to walk away from this.
 
How was working with Onata and getting her to feel at home on set?
She’s so easy and such a delightful, delightful girl. She’s very bright and she’s very curious and loving and trusting and seems to really like to do this. I didn’t feel like this was a child there under duress. As a parent, I would say to her, "Okay we’re going to do this and I’m going to yell really loud at the end and slam the door, so don’t be scared, and I may cry, but it’s not real." Or I would say,"Okay I’m going to pick you up and twirl you around and give you a kiss." I just wanted her to feel safe and that she always knew what I was going to do and was prepared as a kid and as an actor, so we knew what world we were working in. She’s terrific and has a lovely mother.
 
Maisie is a very modern film based on an a Victorian text, but how did you find the similarities between the two?
It’s very loosely adapted. But James was commenting on divorce and shared custody and also these recalcitrant parents.What’s interesting is that we have a tendency to think that things like divorce or custody battles are endemic to the time we live in, like in the old days people didn’t get divorced, these stories didn’t happen—but it did. And that’s what’s interesting too is that, unfortunately, these themes repeat themselves. My daughter had to read this book in school called The Orphan Train—it’s awful! These parents living during the Industrial Age put their kids on the orphan train and send them to go work, which relates to this idea of kids being shuttled all over the place. So historically, this stuff happens and kids are left to fend for themselves.
 
Do you find that when you play a role like this you tend to carry it around with you or is it something you’ve learned to shake off at the end of the day?
I don’t like to take it with me. I have two kids! I don’t have time to sit and wallow in it, nor do I want to. My husband says I’m really good at compartmentalizing, but I think I am: that’s work stuff, this is home stuff. You can choose to sit around in it but it wouldn’t be tolerable for me or my children. 
 
Your character seems emblematic of a certain type of person that existed when James wrote the novel and especially now, someone centered entirely on themselves and has a very egotistical approach to life that’s kind of a warning how one shouldn’t behave.
I think the movie and the book are warning of what the dangers of behaving that way and collateral damage of divorce. Susanna and the Beale are locked in a power war that’s not about the custody of the child—because neither one of us want to parent the child—they just want to win. So I think it’s a cautionary tale in that way.
 
As a mother yourself, did that make it even more challenging to be so neglectful and selfish towards Maisie?
Wellb, because I’m pretty compartmentalized, I know that’s not me. My biggest concern was to make Onata feel safe and that she knew we were pretending. My kids made a lot of jokes about me playing the bad mother because we were right next door, so she would come over and hangout a little bit and see me flailing around. But it’s not who I am.
 
The way you work with Onata sounds like an approach a director would have working with a young child. Having worked with so many fascinating people, would you ever consider directing a film yourself?
I’d like to try, I really would. Yeah, I have some interest. I feel like it’s on my bucket list. If I don’t do it I feel like I’ll be disappointed. So we’ll see. It’s a big job and I don’t know if I would want to direct something that I didn’t write, so that’s the hard part. I don’t know how I feel about directing someone else’s material.
 
Do you write as well?
I write children’s book, but I don’t know that that’s a movie. I have three books in a series and fourth book coming outing September called My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me about the experience of growing up with a mother from another country. So I write those things. I’d like to try to write a screenplay too, so we’ll see.
 
What did you learn from playing Susanna and working on a film like this?
I think you learn from life, I don’t think you learn from work. People always say, well what did you learn from this character? And I’m like, no what I learn in my life is what I apply to work. I don’t learn a lot at work, it’s a little bit like saying—how do films influence culture? Well, how does culture influence film? Film doesn’t do anything original. What art does is reflect culture back to the world at large. What I’ve learned as a human being, as a parent, as a spouse, and as a friend and worker, all of those things I take and put into my work.
 
What have you learned along the way in terms of being a director?
You better be prepared. I have a great respect for people who have a vision and know how to communicate it and know how to assemble it. Because what I find, is that some people are very, very good at it, but everybody works in different ways. I see how far people can go and really truly prepare, and I think that’s how I try to work as an actor, I want to make sure I’m really familiar with what I need to do that day so I can accomplish it. And especially on an independent film, you have such a limited amount of time and you better figure it out quickly.
 
How do you find vacillating between smaller independent films such as this and big Hollywood studio pictures?
You have less time; it really comes down to that. If I hear one more time, we’re shooting this in 23 days I’m like no! It’s become harder and harder to get money and days for things, so that means you don’t have the hours. It’s like, okay you get two takes you have to move on—and that’s really hard. Whereas big budget films are like, we didn’t get it today, we’ll do more tomorrow. And you’re like, we’re doing more?!
 
Do you allow your kids to watch your movies?
They don’t watch any of them. My son came to see Crazy, Stupid, Love with me because he was 13 and he loved all those people and it was really fun for him to see. Other than that they don’t see much and I don’t encourage it.

Alexander Skarsgård and Onata Aprile Talk Growing Close With Their New Film ‘What Maisie Knew’

Although the world first fell in love with Alexander Skarsgård as the dark lord of the undead, Eric Northman, in True Blood, the Swedish actor has transcended his hulking television status in the last few years to become one of Hollywood’s most sought after and talented actors. In 2011, he played the doting husband to Kirsten Dunst’s Justine in Lars von Trier’s doomsday ballet Melancholia, as well as the violent role of Charlie in Rod Lurie’s remake of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. And in the last few months alone, I’ve watched Skarsgård deliver vastly different and nuanced performances as an emotionally cut-ff veteran in Henry-Alex Rubin’s Disconnect, an impassioned anarchist in Zal Batmanglij’s The East, and most recently the role of Lincoln in David Siegel and Scott McGehee’s family drama What Maisie Knew.

Based on Henry James’ late 19th-century novel, the film adaptation stars Skarsgård as a bartender and musician who marries Susanna (played by Julianne Moore), a singer whom, along with her ex-husband Beale (played by Steve Coogan) neglects to take proper care of their six-year-old daughter Maisie (played by Onata Aprile). In the wake of their selfishness and egotistical concerns, Lincoln assumes the role of father-figure towards the young girl, alongside the help of her nanny Margo. It’s a heartbreaking film that centers on Maisie, a wise and absolutely adorable child caught in the middle of a bitter custody battle. But it’s the chemistry between Skarsgard and Aprile that shines the brightest in the film—their relationship dynamic and heartwarming, an magical touch of wonder between a man in over his head, and a lost child. 

Last week, I sat down with Skarsgård and Aprile at one of the film’s various roundtables to talk about what attracted him to the script, Aprile’s youthful exuberance, and their instant connection.

The characters you often play, are very self-assured and confident figures, but in this we see a more vulnerable side of you. Lincoln slouches and coasts through life in a way that feel like a strong contrast to the roles you usually take on.
Alexander Skarsgård: Well, a character like Derek in Disconnect, he’s broken—there was no swagger there. He was broken because of what he went through, and with Lincoln, it wasn’t about that. It’s not that he was a broken man, he’s just not super confident or very driven and ambitious. I see him as someone who is very genuine and talented and sweet but he doesn’t take care of himself, and he doesn’t really care. But there’s something that happens when he meets Maisie. It’s weird what happens, how he, out of kindness, marries Julianne’s character. They barely know each other and I don’t know a lot of people who would marry someone in a situation like that. But he does and then she’s not there for her kid. For the first time in his life he’s forced to take care of someone. He’s never done that before, even himself. He falls in love with this little kid and he doesn’t get why her parents aren’t there for her and how you can neglect someone so wonderful.
 
Did you compare and contrast between Henry James’ work and the modern script?
AS:
I read the novel many years ago and it felt, even then, very relevant. It’s Victorian England but something a lot of people can relate to and a lot of kids go through that. This is obviously a very different story and I feel like Sir Claude in the novel is a bit different than Lincoln, but the theme and the tone is very similar. It’s, in a way, a battle of two ego—two people so intent on destroying each other that they forget about what’s important. And it’s not that they don’t love their kid, they’re just so busy fighting each other that they neglect their child.
 
How did you go about building Lincoln’s character?
AS:
I wanted someone who definitely couldn’t be bothered. He doesn’t really care about appearance and all that stuff. Susanna is someone who is very successful and I wanted Lincoln to be kind of the polar opposite, someone whose not driven like her but very talented. You don’t see that in the film, but I imagine he’s a great guitarist. I definitely have friends that are very talented like that but just not driven,  and I wanted to capture that.
 
What was it about the film that made you want to be a part of it?
AS:
I thought it was a great, great script. Onata wasn’t attached when I got involved but it was obviously very important to find the right Maisie because it’s all about her in every single scene of the film. So I felt there were great directors and a great script from a great novel; then you’ve got Juilanne Moore, one of the greatest actresses we have, Steve Coogan who—I grew up in Europe and he’s a very famous comedian over there—is just absolutely brilliant. But that said, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have the right Miasie; it’s her journey, we’re all there to just serve that. So we talked a lot about that with the directors and then saw a couple of young actresses, but there was just no doubt once I saw her. If you watch 30 seconds of the film you’ll just get it.
 
Onata, how many times have you seen the film and how do you feel when you watch it?
Onata Aprile:
Well, I saw it three or two times. I think the film is really sad but at the same time, you kind of feel sorry for Maisie. 
 
That’s how I felt too. How was working with Steve Coogan, who is really funny and when we spoke to the directors said he would often changed the dialogue and improvise. When he’d do that, was it difficult to go along with him? 
OA: Sometimes.
AS: I’d say Onata was always very aware of the story and the character and was very open to to change. She’s very much in the moment and present, which made it very organic.
 
What was the most difficult part about playing Maisie?
OA:
I don’t know.
AS: Long days were hard. It’s tough when you get tired and stuff have to act, right? But you did a really good job with that.
 
What was the most fun about it?
OA:
Everything.
 
Do you want to be in another movie?
OA:
Yes I do.
 
This movie tackles a larger social issue of kids that are left without the care of a main guardian. What do you think about that effect on these children?
It’s easy for them to get lost; we’re so egocentric and so focused on ourselves. I’ve seen this with friends, where it’s an ugly divorce and they’re so focused on that custody battle, it becomes so personal and so ugly. And it can go on for years and you can forget that there are children there and they become almost like pawns in it. But that’s what I think is beautiful about the film: it’s not that they don’t love their children, it’s not lack of love, it’s just that the focus is on themselves. It’s about two egos, and I see a lot of that today, where for very selfish reasons people do that.
 
In a short period of time you have Disconnect, Maisie, and The East all being released. The characters you’re playing are all extremely different, so is that something you look for when you’re reading scripts? Is the script the most important thing for you at first or is it the director and their vision of what it could be that reels you in?
It’s a combination. It’s about getting excited. But to get to that place, you need a lot of ingredients: a great script, a director you’re excited to work with, and the character. You need a a character you feel challenged by and you need to feel that there’s a potential to grow or learn something. I need to feel like it’s going to be an interesting creative process—sitting down for the first time with the script and saying, okay who is Lincoln or Derek or Benji. If I sit down and have all the answers or feel like I’ve played this character ten times before, where I know exactly how to play it, I’m not going to have fun. If I have all the answers, why spend four months on it? So that’s always what I’m looking for; there’s got to be that mystery there or I won’t have fun and I don’t think the audience will have fun either.
 
What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming season of True Blood?
Eric is very busy this season. For the first time the humans can actually fight back; they find a way to be a real threat. So Eric’s very busy.
 
Like the character of Maisie, you grew up with a father who was a successful performer and always working. How was being a child in that sort of environment?
When I was a kid, my dad was a stage actor in Sweden, so he wasn’t traveling the world working on big international films. But he did repertoire theater which meant he rehearsed one play during the day and then performed at night. So it was a busy schedule and he was basically at the theater for sixteen hours a day. I grew up hanging out backstage a lot, if I wanted to be with my dad I had to be backstage because he was always there. It’s tough, but at the same time, what greater place to run around as a kid than at a theater with fake noses and wigs and a lot of very interesting creative people? And being back there when he was working with Bergman—not that I knew who Bergman was at the time—but it’s pretty cool looking back.
 
The most wonderful part of the film was definitely the connection between you and Onata. Did you spend time together before shooting or was it something that happened immediately on set?
It happened naturally. But you’re right, it’s so important; without that there’s no film. So I was nervous about it. I was in LA and Onata was in New York and I was like, I really hope the chemistry’s there because she was six then and with someone that age it has to be real, you can’t fake it. But then we got together at David’s house and it was pretty instant. I felt it after three seconds. I was like, we’re fine.

Watch the First Trailer for ‘What Maisie Knew’

We all know trailers tend to be a little emotionally manipulative. But hopefully, that sense of passion carries over into the actual film and those emotions you’re feeling aren’t just a matter of good editing. And with the new trailer for Scott McGehee & David Siegel’s upcoming family-relationship drama What Maisie Knew, we’re given a healthy serving of torn and tender feeling.

After an appearance at TIFF last year, What Maisie Knew is headed for its theatrical release and now there is a first trailer for the film featuring a likeable and talented cast of Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Steve Coogan, and child-actor Onata Aprile. As a contemporary adaptation of Henry James’ novel, the movie tells the story of a family broken apart and their young daughter who must adjust to their new lives, loves, and losses.

From what we see in this first trailer, the film has the potentially to be pretty emotionally devistating and showcase some great performances from the cast all around. And yes, you are hearing "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" by Stars in the second half of the clip. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one.