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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.”

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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.

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

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The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

cogsworth-lumiere-live-action-beauty-and-the-beast

While it’s nice to finally see a glimpse of a couple of the characters, a big question remains unanswered: How will these objects look once they have faces on them? (Cogsworth’s face might be hinted at in the center of the clock.)

Also on the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is a shot from the the “Gaston” musical number. From left to right we see Alexis Loizon as Stanley, Josh Gad as LeFou (just over Gaston’s shoulder), and Luke Evans (with his back to the camera) as Gaston.

live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-gaston

Update: And here’s another look at the movie, courtesy of this person on Twitter — this time we get to see Dan Stevens as human Beast!

human-beast-dan-stevens

We’ll be curious to get our hands on the anniversary edition in September, because we expect we’ll see more from the new movie than the two stills above.

Disney released the first trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast in May. It was very much a teaser trailer, as it didn’t provide any looks at the characters — except Belle (Emma Watson), appearing through the glass casing protecting the film’s iconic rose.

In fact, the trailer’s first looks at the various settings (Namely the Beast’s castle) fell in line with the visual style we see in the above concept art.

Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hit theaters March 17, 2017.

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

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Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

That changes next month, when Apple is expected to announce that the iPhone 7 will be lacking a headphone jack. Instead, users will be listening to music via the Lightning port (which you currently use to charge and sync your iPhone).

And for 2017, Apple will reportedly go one step further by removing the Home button.

Ah, the Home button. It’s always been there for us — it’s our captain for navigating the iPhone. We use it to switch between apps, we use it to get to our Home screen, we use it to summon Siri, and we use it to read our finger print. Back in the “old days,” we used it to force quit apps when they froze on us.

In a new report, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to remove the Home button for the 2017 iPhone, which will presumably be called iPhone 7s. It’s billed as a “major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display.”

Previous rumor mill reports have suggested that Apple will ditch the Home button in order to decrease the size of the top top and bottom bezels, thereby making the phone not as tall, or using the freed up space to add more screen.

Here’s a mock up of what that could look like, via TapSmart:

borderlessmockup1

What remains unclear is how users will be able to unlock and navigate their iPhone without the Home button. Reports have suggested that the whole screen will serve as a TouchID surface and a Home button (using the 3D Touch feature Apple launched last year).

Interestingly, next month’s release of iOS 10 will introduce a new way to unlock your iPhone: You’ll have to press down on the Home button to activate an unlocking. Previously, all you had to do was rest your finger on the Home button while your lock screen was awake.

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

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Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Now, according to Deadline, Disney is developing an all-live-action remake of the film. Nick Hornby will write the script, while Joe Roth is in negotiations to sign on as a producer.

If Mendes’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he directed the last two James Bond features, both Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1999’s American Beauty.

You can check out the trailer for the horrifying original film below:

As of late, Disney has been announcing live-action versions of its properties left and right, including The Nutcracker (which has a huge cast of well-known actors), The Little Mermaid (with Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to help write the music), Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), and Cruella (starring Emma Stone), among others.

With the amount of remakes — especially in the live-action department — it’s no wonder James and the giant Peach is the latest to be announced.

Do you want to see a live-action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ movie?