In addition to bestowing Variety’s Legends and Groundbreakers Award on Ron Howard, the festival will recognize several creatives at their 2022 Festival Honors on Oct. 16 and Eddie Redmayne on Oct. 15.
When Oscar winner Redmayne sat down in his first production meeting for “The Good Nurse,” his daughter had just been born. His daughter is 6 now as the feature is finally seeing its Netflix debut on Oct. 26.
“It’s been a passion project, and it’s been one of those projects that each step of the way has been massively enjoyable, despite the intensity of the subject matter,” Redmayne says. The feature, directed by Tobias Lindholm, is inspired by the true crimes of nurse Charlie Cullen who was investigated by nurse Amy Loughren, played by Jessica Chastain.
“With this film, I was really lucky that, firstly, I was able to meet the real Amy Loughren,” Redmayne says. “She entrusted me with extraordinary information about her friendship with Charlie and about who Charlie was that — looking back on it — I wouldn’t have been able to play him without. She was such an essential part to the making of this movie.”
Months of preparation were involved in the film’s pre-production, with Redmayne and Chastain even spending two weeks attending a make-shift nursing program led by an actual pediatric nurse. Because access to hospitals was severely hindered during the COVID-19 pandemic, the production team designed a mock space in Connecticut for this training.
But getting into the mind of a killer is still no easy feat. In order to embody Cullen, Redmayne worked alongside a dialect coach to master the killer’s way of speaking and collaborated with movement coach Alexandra Reynolds, with whom he previously worked on “The Theory of Everything,” to distill the emotional qualities of Cullen’s mannerisms.
The intense, brooding role is a stark contrast to Redmayne’s iconic performance as the plucky wizard Newton Scamander in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, which “The Theory of Everything” star admitted was a difficult concept for his children to grasp.
“They just sort of presumed that I was the good nurse, and then they watched the trailer and it became apparent very quickly that I was not the good nurse,” Redmayne says. “I think they were a bit upset to realize that I was, perhaps, the bad nurse.”
— Katie Reul
Career Achievement Award
The filmmaker behind such hits as “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and “A Simple Favor” is being feted for his work, including “The School for Good and Evil,” arriving Oct. 19 on Netflix. Based on the popular 2013 novel of the same name, the film is directed, produced and co-written by Feig and headlined by Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington. A DGA Award winner and Emmy nominee, Feig is the founder of production company Feigco Entertainment and content company Powerkeg Media, which aims to champion new and diverse voices.
— Jenelle Riley
Artist of Distinction
Majors is experiencing the calm before the storm in his already illustrious acting career. Among notable recent roles in “The Harder They Fall” and an upcoming stint as Dennis Rodham in “48 Hours in Vegas,” he has the Marvel machine waiting for him as he is set to become the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next big villain, Kang the Conqueror, in early 2023’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
But before the Marvel whirlwind starts, early inklings of his immense awards potential are coming to fruition, starting with the Artist of Distinction award he will receive at the Newport Beach Film Festival in October. Majors says it was a humbling feeling when he got the call.
“It means a lot, that just in this short amount of time, the characters I’ve been fortunate enough to usher into cinema and television have made that type of impact,” he says. “It’s truly humbling.”
The festival in October will be his first, and he will be visiting ahead of the release of “Devotion,” an upcoming November war film from director J.D. Dillard in which he plays Jesse Brown, based on the real-life pilot during the Korean War.
“I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, [acting] is my vocation and I do want the work to be felt and understood as the form continues to grow,” Majors says. “Anytime someone acknowledges your work and the contributions they think you’re making; it feels good.”
— E.J. Panaligan
Artist of Distinction
Though he started in comedy, Oswalt has already established himself as a master of many media and genres. As an actor, he has already earned raves for his dramatic turns in films including “Big Fan” and “Young Adult” while penning everything from graphic novels to memoirs. But it’s been a particularly banner year for the Emmy and Grammy Award winner. On TV alone he’s appeared in hits from “The Boys” and “Gaslit” to lending his voice in a scene-stealing turn as Matthew the Raven in “The Sandman.” His most recent Netflix special, “We All Scream,” released to rave reviews. And on the big screen, he’s taken on of his most challenging roles yet in “I Love My Dad,” which won both the top audience and jury prizes at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Playing a man who, in an effort to reconnect with his estranged son, catfishes him on social media, Oswalt embraced the gray areas of the role. “I don’t have a problem with difficult or repellent characters,” Oswalt told Variety. “I just have a problem with stories badly told, and this one wasn’t.” —J.R.
Artist of Distinction
Palmer’s fierce performance in Jordan Peele’s sci-fi thriller “Nope” caught the attention of critics and audiences, and provided the film with an energetic spark of inventive versatility. Her character is caught in the middle of a battle of wits with an extraterrestrial, and serves as co-anchor for the story, while projecting a perfect balance of vulnerability and resourcefulness. “Emerald’s personality and strength was really evident. She has a lot of courage and heart, and the evolution of the character surprised me,” says Palmer. “When I was reading the script for the first time, I never saw any of it coming, and right now, it’s so hard to figure out how to do something new in science fiction.”
The brother-sister relationship at the center of “Nope,” which Palmer refers to as a “siblance,” is one of the creative angles that appealed to the actor, to say nothing of collaborating with Peele. “You know you’re going to get a really unique perspective, and when you’re working with people who are this excited and talented, the project becomes even more than what’s on the page.”
And as someone who has been around the industry for more than 20 years, Palmer has learned to go with the flow. “You’re not always going to be the ‘in’ thing. You have to keep doing your job, and doing the things that you love. William H. Macy once told me to ‘take one scene at a time,’ and I think that’s a good way to look at life in general.”
— Nick Clement
Artist of Distinction
When a colleague introduced the screenplay of “Emily the Criminal” to Plaza, she was instantly captivated by the titular character.. “It felt like a story for a young generation right now.”
Plaza worked with a dialect coach for the first time to achieve Emily’s New Jersey accent, saying about the role, “It was an opportunity for me to really physicalize a character, and I’ve never really gotten to do that.”
To elaborate on Emily’s backstory and personality, Plaza drew on her personal experience living in New York. “I went back to that place, in my mind, when I was younger and struggling and working different jobs and grinding it out in New York. I just tried to go back to that place and remember what that felt like.”
Up next, Plaza is diversifying her already extensive portfolio, starring in Season 2 of “The White Lotus” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis.”
From her deadpan comic role as April Ludgate in “Parks and Recreation” to leading such gritty dramas as “Emily the Criminal,” there seems no limit to Plaza’s range. “I love challenging myself in all kinds of genres and all kinds of projects. I always find it interesting to go back and forth from bigger budget, commercial projects and then really small, indie, labors of love — and television.”
She adds, “I guess I don’t discriminate against any kind of medium. I’m just interested in characters and stories that I’m drawn to.”
— Michaela Zee
Following his well-received debut feature “Shithouse,” Raiff wrote, directed, produced and starred in “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” which won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award earlier this year. Now available on Apple TV+, the film centers on a somewhat aimless young man who finds gainful employment as a “party starter” at bar and bat mitzvahs. The film co-stars Dakota Johnson as Domino, the mother of autistic teen Lola, played by newcomer Vanessa Burghardt in a breakout turn. — J.R.
Nobody can accuse musician-turned-
actor Baker (aka Machine Gun Kelly) of not facing the introspective leading role in writer-director Tim Sutton’s “Taurus” head-on and with laser-focused intensity. Playing a young music sensation who is battling personal demons, accurately portraying his character’s inner psychological torment became crucial to him as an artist. “Tim and I were filming the western ‘The Last Son,’ and we were smoking a joint in a cabin up in Montana, and we were sharing life stories. He told me that if I ever made a film about my life, he wanted to direct it. Three weeks later, I got the script for ‘Taurus,’ which even though is very meta, certain things were inspired by Tim’s own experiences and his vision.”
The stylish film takes an eye-opening peek at the high-cost of hard-living in major celebrity culture, where multiple worlds, some more excessive than others, oftentimes collide, with results that can be both rewarding and tragic. Baker used personal experiences to heighten his craft. “I’ve lived some of those scenes in real life before. It’s something I’m not proud of, but ultimately it allowed for authenticity to come through in a moment that could be forgettable if it was just ‘acted’ out.”
Right now he seems quite focused on his progression as an actor, while still balancing his incredibly successful career as a rapper, singer, and songwriter. “I’m interested in making something that matters.” — N.C.
After appearing in films such as “Us” and series “Titans” and “24: Legacy,” Diop stars in Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming film “Nanny.” Diop plays an undocumented nanny working for a wealthy couple while hoping to bring her own son from West Africa in the film, which blends elements of horror and thriller while examining such issues as race and privilege. Th film won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the first horror movie to claim the honor.
After appearing in FX’s Emmy Award-
winning series “The Americans” and the Netflix limited series “Maid,” Carrero is set to have a busy fall. She will appear opposite Ralph Fiennes in Searchlight’s “The Menu” in October and alongside Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds in the Apple Original Film “Spirited” in November. She will also be seen in Amazon’s upcoming series “The Consultant.”
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