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Actor Jeffrey Wright hadn’t read The Hunger Games until director Francis Lawrence offered him the role of Beetee. When he did, he was amazed by what Suzanne Collins was able to pull off.

Wright was most impressed by Collins’ ability to write to audiences with different political views simultaneously. “It’s welcoming of the entire political spectrum,” he said during a one-on-one interview with Hypable. “Some people look at these stories and take a 1% versus the 99% perspective, which can be read something as a left-leaning perspective. I think others look at this and they view it from a more right-leaning perspective as a condemnation of government. Others may look at is as a validation of a need for strong allegiance to the second amendment. So it’s nondiscriminatory, it’s nonpartisan. The core, essential values that Katniss responds to are these universal, mythic ideas around family.”

The actor is best known for his roles in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and the James Bond series. Despite having his hand in two of pop culture’s biggest dramatic entities, he was shocked and had a “woah!” moment when his agent told him Hunger Games is “bigger than Bond.”

In the book and film series, the character of Beetee is a District 3 tribute who is reaped for the 75th annual Hunger Games. He is a very intelligent victor who’s great with electronics, and his abilities are used to break down the Quarter Quell arena.

Wright’s casting as Beetee stemmed from a missed opportunity to work with Lawrence previously. “I was asked [to play Beetee] because Francis had wanted to work with me before on a movie and we didn’t get the opportunity to do that,” he said. “He called and asked if I’d consider it. I read the script and saw the first movie. It didn’t take long for me to accept that invitation.”

The popularity of The Hunger Games was an attractive part to taking the offer (which he didn’t have to audition for) because, as he learned later, the series is deserving of its warm reception. “There’s an intelligence that runs through and a relevance that runs through it that’s extremely attractive, and that it’s grounded in interesting literature for young minds. So many kids are being further encouraged to read, and we need more of that.”

The fandom

jeffrey-wright-catching-fire-philadelphiaTo promote Catching Fire, Wright headed out on a “Victory Tour” across several cities in the United States. It was at those events that he really dipped his feet into the passionate fandom and learned why readers love the trilogy as much as they do.

The actor – who chooses his words very carefully when being interviewed – describes the experience as “enlightening.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some of the more ardent, more proactive fans who’ve set up websites and blogs and tweet about the stories,” he told us. “I’ve had the opportunity to ask them why they’re so passionate about this stuff, and there hasn’t been one consistent answer. But the consistent aspect is that it’s very personal. And not lightly considered. It’s not simply because it’s a passing fad or because there’s this massive media attention on the stories. Or that Jennifer, Josh, and Liam are cute. It’s because they can place themselves within a journey that one of these characters is on. They somehow identity and sympathize with. And some people bring their politics to it.”

Gary Ross’ departure

We asked Wright about the departure of The Hunger Games director Gary Ross who was all but set to direct Catching Fire until he left the franchise because he thought he needed more time to shoot. We were curious if he noticed a quicker production pace to accommodate the tight schedule Ross was afraid of.

“There was never a sense that we were being rushed – at all. The sense was we were taking our time, taking as much time as needed to craft as fine a movie as we were able. I think a lot of the calmness – aside from Jennifer and Josh’s hi-jinx which keeps everything buoyant and fun – but that sense of calm was a direct result of Francis’ attitude toward the work.”

Francis Lawrence, Francis Lawrence, Francis Lawrence

Pivoting from the question about Ross, Wright asked himself how he would applaud Catching Fire in six words and repeated the director’s name to us three times. He credits the helmer’s vision for its forthcoming success because of how large of a project this is to envision while in production.

“I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m being asked to do and what my responsibilities are. But it was only upon seeing the movie that I understood the scale and the specificity of his vision and realized his vision. And really wrangle all these top flight filmmakers from actors to cinematography to designers to crew – wrangle them all together and have them work together on their very best material that is among the very best for films like this, and do it with a sense of ease and a sense of clarity is not an easy task. It is not to be underestimated. He really is extraordinary.”

catching-fire-beetee-quarter-quell

The nauseating Cornucopia

For Wright, one of the only action sequences he had to take part in was the scene where Beetee and other tributes are hanging onto the Cornucopia for dear life as it spins. “They had this whole rig. They had this carnival type rig that we were on. They cranked up the engine, and we just had to hold on for dear life. And at the end of the day, try to avoid the vomit bags. It was pretty crazy,” he told us with a laugh.

The actor didn’t have to take part in many stunts because the character is used more for his book smarts. “Beetee is more thinker than fighter. More lover than fighter. The other actors were more engaged in the physical aspects of it whereas I was allowed to be a bit more cerebral and relied upon for my capacity to think.”

Although they’re on hiatus right now to promote Catching Fire, Wright and the cast of Mockingjay started filming the two-part finale in October and will resume next month.

Catching Fire is in theaters this Friday.

Quiz: How well do you remember the 2007 Oscars?

3:32 pm EST, January 18, 2017

As the 89th Academy Awards approach, we take a trip back to 2007 to see how memorable the ceremony really was 10 years ago.

Ah, the Oscars. What a night. Glitz and glamour, lots of rich and beautiful people crying and thanking each other. What’s not to like?

Related: 2016 Oscars: Leo finally wins, Mad Max: Fury Road cleans up

Read full article

As the 89th Academy Awards approach, we take a trip back to 2007 to see how memorable the ceremony really was 10 years ago.

Ah, the Oscars. What a night. Glitz and glamour, lots of rich and beautiful people crying and thanking each other. What’s not to like?

Related: 2016 Oscars: Leo finally wins, Mad Max: Fury Road cleans up

In 10 years, will we look back at the 2017 Oscars and remember every detail of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling awkwardly accepting award after award for La La Land while the other nominees politely clap and try not to grit their teeth? Or will the event fade into distant memory?

Maybe we can get an answer to that question by dialling back the clock to 2007 and see just how clearly we remember the 79th Academy Awards.

How did you do? Tell us how well you remember the 79th Academy Awards in the comments!

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be unveiled Tuesday, January 24.

You may know that one of those dogs-are-so-great-and-warm-our-hearts movies, A Dog’s Purpose, is hitting theaters very soon. Unfortunately, it’s now embroiled in controversy.

TMZ has released a video from the film’s Canadian set depicting a German Shepherd being forced into a fast-moving stream of water. As you can tell, the dog clearly does not want to go in it.

The most upsetting part of the video comes at the very end when we see the dog finally in the fake river but having trouble staying above water. The crew calls cut to rescue him/her.

Read full article

You may know that one of those dogs-are-so-great-and-warm-our-hearts movies, A Dog’s Purpose, is hitting theaters very soon. Unfortunately, it’s now embroiled in controversy.

TMZ has released a video from the film’s Canadian set depicting a German Shepherd being forced into a fast-moving stream of water. As you can tell, the dog clearly does not want to go in it.

The most upsetting part of the video comes at the very end when we see the dog finally in the fake river but having trouble staying above water. The crew calls cut to rescue him/her.

“Sources connected to production tell us eight outboard motors were used to churn the water and recreate a rushing river,” says TMZ. “The dog eventually got in the water — or was forced in — but was quickly submerged.”

At 1:28 in the below trailer you can see a scene that looks similar to what was being filmed in TMZ’s video:

Universal and their partners at Amblin told TMZ in a statement, “Fostering a safe environment and ensuring the ethical treatment of our animal actors was of the utmost importance to those involved in making this film and we will look into the circumstances surrounding this video.”

A Dog’s Purpose stars Dennis Quaid and Britt Robertson. It opens next Friday, January 27.

Update: Josh Gad, who voices a dog in the movie, issued the following statement on Instagram. He speaks highly of the film but says he finds the leaked video “disturbing.”

“While I do not know all of the details and cannot speak to the level of care and caution that went into this moment (as I was never on set for the marking of this film), I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will.”

Since apparently some of you did not see the statement I issued last night, here it is again.

A photo posted by Josh Gad (@joshgad) on

We’re suddenly way less interested in seeing this.

Moviegoers may be getting the Spidey we’ve all been hoping for! A new report reveals that Sony’s animated Spider-Man movie, set to hit theaters in 2018, will focus on the Miles Morales Spidey.

Update (January 18, 2017): Sony Animation confirmed on Wednesday, January 18 that their animated Spider-Man movie will star Miles Morales!

Read full article

Moviegoers may be getting the Spidey we’ve all been hoping for! A new report reveals that Sony’s animated Spider-Man movie, set to hit theaters in 2018, will focus on the Miles Morales Spidey.

Update (January 18, 2017): Sony Animation confirmed on Wednesday, January 18 that their animated Spider-Man movie will star Miles Morales!

Original story (May 2016): Heroic Hollywood, who has a good record of breaking superhero news, is the source behind the exciting development. As was previously announced, the animated Spider-Man movie will be produced by LEGO Movie helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The duo are also set to direct the Star Wars Han Solo spinoff for Lucasfilm.

Who is Miles Morales? As we wrote in a lengthy tell-all about the character last year:

Miles Morales is the current Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics series. Introduced in 2011, Miles is a black-hispanic young man who, like Peter Parker, is a talented scientist and self-proclaimed nerd. However, unlike his predecessor, Morales steps into the superhero’s shoes at the surprisingly young age of 13.

Raised in Brooklyn, Miles was born into a family plagued by criminal activity. Before settling down with his wife Rio, Miles’s father Jefferson used to be crime partners with his brother Aaron (Miles’s uncle). However, where Jefferson tried to shrink away from the lifestyle, Aaron continues to embrace it — assuming the role of classic Marvel villain the Prowler. After pulling off a heist on Oscorp, Aaron unknowingly takes a genetically modified spider home with him. It is at Aaron’s house that Miles is bit by the spider and starts the transformation into Spider-Man.

Where Peter Parker relished the opportunity to become spidey, Miles is reluctant to enter the world of vigilantism. What’s more, his family’s criminal history causes him to question whether or not he can ever be a hero, or if evil is hardwired into him.

Oh, and one other cool thing about him: The guy is immortal, unlike the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man.

Related: Who is Miles Morales? We explain everything

The rumor mill was alive with chatter about the MCU’s Spidey being the Miles Morales version last year, but obviously those reports never panned out. The Peter Parker version of Spider-Man was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, played by Tom Holland. He’s getting his own spinoff film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, next year.

Telling the Miles Morales story on screen may be just the thing the animated Spider-Man movie needs in order for it to draw people into the theaters in December 2018. We’ve had enough Peter Parker stories!

2018 will be a great year for super hero diversity: Marvel’s Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman will be released a few months earlier.