Andrew Garfield vies for Best Actor Oscar with ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

British actor Andrew Garfield earns his first Academy Award nomination by playing real-life hero, Desmond Doss, in director Mel Gibson’s World War II epic, Hacksaw Ridge.

Nominated for eight Oscar Awards including Best Picture, Hacksaw Ridge centers on the story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), a Seventh-day Adventist who became an army medic while adhering to his religious convictions of not carrying a weapon. He saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.

Producer Bill Mechanic explains: “It was 14 years for me making the film, so I looked at many actors over that time to play Desmond Doss. He’s a difficult character to portray because he’s so inward, he’s not going to explain himself a lot of times in the movie, so it had to be somebody who could inhabit his persona so fully that you could see who he was.”

Mechanic knew that physicality was not the heart of the role, although it would take the lead actor into searing action. “Even if he was a Superman with a body built like The Rock, you still wouldn’t believe that a person still could do what Desmond did,” the producer muses. “It would take something else to believe in Desmond and that’s what Andrew Garfield brought.”

Garfield who is known for his roles as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, immediately jumped at the role.

“There wasn’t any hesitation when I read the script” says Garfield. “I think it’s rare in this world to have someone like Desmond, who is so tuned into themselves, so tuned into what that still, small voice inside is saying, that no matter what is thrown at them, they know what they can do, and what they will not do.”

Doss’s rare respect for the enemy and the sanctity of all human life also awed Garfield, who says it gave him pause. “Desmond treated the enemy with as much care as he would treat his fellow Americans. That’s hard to wrap your mind around, but I wanted to try to understand it more, and to learn from his perspective on life and on the world — this beautiful perspective he had that we’re all one. Even though I believe this is a story that transcends any specific religion, it’s a very spiritual story,” says Garfield.

Despite the fact that Doss is now deceased, Garfield says he felt a heavy responsibility to honor his life and achievements. He spent three months prior to production devoted solely to exploring Doss and his surroundings in depth.

“The preparation was extensive,” Garfield comments. “I visited Desmond’s hometown, the place where he retired, the home he grew up in and the home where he passed away. I walked the walks that he walked. I read all the books about him, absorbing as much as I possibly could. But that was just scratching the surface, really. One of the joys of doing a story like this is attempting to dive into someone else’s being, the time in which they were alive, which is endlessly fascinating. You get to be an historian and a researcher.

Mel Gibson was gratified to see Garfield cut to the heart of the character he so wanted audiences to get to know. “Andrew is an amazing actor. He’s not your typical looking action hero but he has those qualities inside him,” Gibson observes. “He’s a guy who, like Desmond Doss, has real convictions and so he was able to portray Desmond in a real and moving way. The film is so focused on his character, he really had to be our quarterback and he was.”

Garfield was equally exhilarated by the working rapport with Gibson. “Working with Mel as a director has been a real highlight of my time being an actor so far,” he says. “Mel tells a story in such a beautiful, compelling way. He’s a bit like Desmond Doss in that he’s got this real innocence and purity to him. With Mel, everything is on the surface, and you know exactly what he’s feeling at all times, even if he doesn’t want you to know he can’t help himself. He’s sincere and passionate, and it’s infectious.”

Hacksaw Ridge will open in Philippine cinemas on February 22, 2017.

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Meet Alex Roe, male lead of new horror-thriller ‘Rings’

British actor Alex Roe has quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s emerging film stars. Now, he stars in Paramount Pictures’ new horror-thriller Rings, the new chapter in the beloved RING horror franchise.

In the film, a young woman (Matilda Lutz) becomes worried about her boyfriend (Roe) when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before…

Roe recently wrapped production on the indie coming-of-age drama Hot Summer Nights, and previously starred in the children’s science fiction drama series The Fugitives for CITV and the BBC Television teen drama series The Cut. He has also appeared in numerous British television shows including Holby City, Doctors, Hollyoaks, and The Jury, among others. In 2014, he was cast in the lead role of Luke Holt in ABC Family’s drama pilot Unstrung. Roe currently resides in Los Angeles.

Q: Could you tell us about your childhood and how you got into acting?

Alex Roe: I grew up in West London, playing soccer a lot and playing a lot of sports. That and acting were always the two things that I flipped between. And sometimes acting would take the lead, and sometimes football would. But acting was always where my passion was and that is what I think I was good at.

Q: What was the first thing that got you into acting?

Roe: Oh I just loved movies. Just growing up, I always loved, probably watched movies I shouldn’t have watched. Like American History X, when I was like thirteen. Just loving movies is what got me into it. And also just being really interested in other people and what makes people tick. From quite a young age, from being quiet and pathetic I think. And just being the kind of person that is interested in lots and lots of things, and gets obsessed with things really quickly.

Q: What was your first acting project?

Roe: My first acting project was a funny one. I did a commercial for this thing called Milky Way. The chocolate Milky Way. The whole thing I was at was really, really fun. But then everyone in my area where I grew up would call me the “Milky Way Kid”. So I got a lot of grief for that.

Q: Do you have any favorite TV shows?

Roe: Peaky Blinders. I think Cillian Murphy is one of the best actors of our generation. And obviously when Tom Hardy came on in the second season, that was pretty awesome too.

Q: Favorite food?

Roe: I miss, this is so English, but I miss a really good Cornwall fish and chips. They just know how to batter a fish out there. They just know how to do it.

Q: 70′s rock music is your favorite… Any certain bands?

Roe: Oh, loads. I’m kind of into a bit of Led Zeppelin, a little bit of AC/DC. And then I like a little but of punk too. So kind of going into The Ramones and stuff like that. But I’ve got quite an eclectic taste really. I just like good music.

Q: Do you have any obsessions in life?

Roe: Soccer. I play literally three times a week. I’m obsessed with soccer. And I watch it a lot as well.

Q: Do you have any pet peeves?

Roe: Um… Fake people.

Q: Who is your celebrity crush?

Roe: You know, Brie Larson is so cute and cool. I’d love to meet her.

Opening across the Philippines on February 22, 2017, Rings is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Josh Gad lends voice to Bailey, narrator in ‘A Dog’s Purpose’

Known to tens of millions as the voice of Olaf in Frozen, Josh Gad lends his voice to Bailey, the real star—the heart and soul throughout the entirety of Universal Pictures’ new family adventure, A Dog’s Purpose.

Director Lasse Hallström and Amblin Entertainment reached out to the Tony Award-winning actor with high hopes of finding the voice of Bailey.

His unparalleled vocal abilities are just as melodic as they are humorous and emotional, and the filmmakers were certain he would be the production’s perfect Bailey. “After hearing what Josh did with Olaf in Frozen, I had a pretty good sense of his talents and why he would be great for the role of the narrator. But when we started our work, I was truly moved at what an amazing match he was for the visuals of the dog and how he connected to that character,” says Hallström.

Gad, who was under the impression that he was being asked to consider doing voiceover work for a talking dog, but was he in for a surprise. Gad reflects on the casting process: “I have always been a huge fan of Lasse Hallstrom’s and have been longing for the opportunity to work with him. I got a call one day saying there was a new movie that he directed and wanted me to be a part of. I got extremely excited and was told that the movie was shot already. I did not understand.”

The performer continues, “My initial reaction was that I did not want to do a talking animal movie, but Leslee Feldman (VP of Casting at Amblin) told me to watch the film before I made my decision. She handed me a tissue box and said, ‘Here, you are going to need this.’”

“I watched the film—realized it was not a talking dog—and was so moved and blown away by it that I felt compelled to be part of it. If someone walked in, they would have thought I was robbed at gunpoint and watched a family of squirrel’s burn down because I was sobbing. After completing the part, I can honestly say that I have not felt this way about a project I have been involved in since Frozen. Anyone watching this is going to be in awe of the beauty, the truth and the entertainment of what Lasse has put together,” says Gad.

Based on author W. Bruce Cameron’s beloved best-selling novel, A Dog’s Purpose, from director Lasse Hallström shares the heartwarming and surprising story of one devoted dog who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.

Over the course of five decades, a single voice—that of an indefatigable dog—takes us along a riveting and uplifting path that speaks to the heart of anyone who has ever loved an animal. Although he is reincarnated in the bodies of multiple canines through the years, it is his unbreakable bond with a kindred spirit named Ethan that carries and inspires one dog throughout his journey to find a true purpose for his boy.

Opening across the Philippines on March 1, 2017, A Dog’s Purpose is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Keanu Reeves beyond car-fu and gun-fu boundaries in ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

A surprise hit in 2014, John Wick struck a chord with audiences who yearned to see Keanu Reeves return to full-blown action mode. Earning cult status for its hyper-kinetic take on classic martial arts and gunplay, the film’s global success presented the producers with an inevitable question: What to do for an encore? For Reeves, the answer was clear: more action, a bigger scope and a deeper dive into the title character’s internal struggle.

The story of “John Wick: Chapter 2” is the journey of a complicated hit man struggling to protect the kinder, gentler self he embraced after retiring from the business, but unable to do so because of a debt he has accrued. “John Wick has given a marker to this character Santino, played by Riccardo Scamarcio,” Reeves explains. “According to the rules, if the bearer of the marker comes to you and wants to cash it in and you don’t do what they want, you die. If you kill the bearer of your marker, you die. So John has a problem.”

John Wick: Chapter 2 finds Reeves’ character once again engaging in explosive “Gun-Fu” sequences, which expand martial arts beyond hand-to-hand combat to encompass gunplay. To master the weapons skills required, Reeves trained with champion competitive shooter Taran Butler. “I really enjoyed working with Taran,” says the actor. “It was a great experience to work with such an expert marksman.”

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Months of “live-fire” sessions during pre-production helped Reeves hone his shooting skills, as evidenced by a video of Reeves practicing at a rifle range that went viral. Director Chad Stahelski watched the training pay off once cameras started rolling. “Keanu trained three or four times a week for 10 weeks firing anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 rounds at each session,” he says. “Once we got him dialed in so precisely with live fire, we took him into the gym with replica weapons and worked out the choreography. By the time we started shooting, Keanu had so much muscle memory he was able to perform the Gun-Fu scenes brilliantly.”

“John Wick: Chapter 2” once again showcases its protagonist’s astonishing skills behind the wheel. The movie kicks off with some unfinished business involving John’s beloved 1969 Mustang, which was stolen in the first movie. “John really wants to get his Mustang back and the bad guys make the mistake of smashing it not long after he recovers it,” explains stunt coordinator Prescott. “This pisses him off and makes him want to kill everybody.”

As he did in the first film, Reeves handles much of the stunt driving himself, including a breakneck reverse 180-degree turn that he learned specifically for the role. “I love the driving,” says the action star. “It was great to get back into the car and get to throw it around a bit. Doing the reverse 180 was new and that was fun, but the 90- and 45-degree turns and the drifting came back pretty quick.”

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When it came to portraying vehicular mayhem, director, star and stunt team were assisted by some very realistic looking crash-test dummies. “Their joints move like human joints so we used those to give a sense of realism,” stunt boss Perry says. “We wound up hitting a few people with cars, and we hit a lot of dummies.” The end result? “John Wick 2 is the bigger, meaner, older brother of the first film,” says Perry. “After Chapter 2, if they ever need to kill James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Reacher, John Wick’s the guy to do it.”

Now showing across Philippine cinemas, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is from Pioneer Films.

James Franco plays socially awkward tech billionaire in riotous comedy ‘Why Him?’

From the makers of blockbuster family comedies such as “Meet The Parents” and “Night at the Museum” comes a hilarious endearing family movie “Why Him?” starring Oscar nominees James Franco and Bryan Cranston with Zoey Deutch and Megan Mullally featuring the voice of Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco (virtual concierge named Justine).

Franco stars as Laird Mayhew, a heavily tattoed and socially awkward tech billionaire in “Why Him?” – an unconventional family movie that puts a hilarious fresh spin on the anxiety-inducing tradition of introducing one’s significant other to the family. Ned (Cranston) thinks Laird, who has absolutely no filter, is a wildly inappropriate match for his daughter Stephanie (Deutch). Ned’s panic level escalates when the straight-laced Midwesterner, who finds himself increasingly out of step in Laird’s glamorous high-tech world, learns that Laird is about to pop the question.

Directed by John Hamburg, “Why Him?” was an idea hatched in a basement in Atlanta when producers Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill were in production on the 2012 alien invasion comedy “The Watch.” “We were all standing there in the dark on this wet, claustrophobic stage saying how great it would be to do a movie in Hawaii,” recalls Levy. “Shawn and Ben and Jonah came up with this idea called Aloha… We loved the idea and gave it to John Hamburg, who did an amazing rewrite and reconceived the whole idea. He really made it his own. The only downside was that he changed the location, so we’re not shooting in Hawaii,” Levine says. “But everything else was perfect.”

With an established reputation in the comedy realm as a result of his extensive work with frequent collaborator Seth Rogen, Franco, who earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his turn as hiker Aron Ralston in 2010’s “127 Hours,” was interested in exploring the genre further with a different dynamic under Hamburg’s direction. “When I got into comedy, I was introduced to the importance of grounded characters who provide a real emotional through-line and not just a series of jokes,” Franco says. “John really subscribes to that idea and creates the kind of comedies that I gravitate toward because it doesn’t feel like fluff. You’re actually having something of an experience while you’re laughing.”

Franco and Hamburg’s relationship actually began as professor and student when the actor was attending the graduate filmmaking program at NYU. “Unfortunately, he was my teacher the semester that I was doing 127 Hours, so I wasn’t there a lot,” Franco says. “But we talked a lot and I got to know him on the phone.”

To help develop the character of Laird, Franco Skyped with video game designer Cliff Bleszinski (known as CliffyB) for some real-world inspiration. “He’s sort of like a snowboarder pimp,” Franco says. “That’s sort of like his style. He talked really fast, he throws in a lot of cuss words but is also saying some pretty intelligent things, you know? I thought, oh, there’s something of Laird in there that I can use.”

Now playing across the Philippines, “Why Him?” is from 20th Century Fox and distributed by Warner Bros.

‘Rogue One’s’ Donnie Yen returns in new ‘xXx’ sequel

Coming off an indelibly iconic performance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last December, Donnie Yen now brings his unique screen persona and action style to Hollywood and the world with Paramount Pictures’ “xXx: Return of Xander Cage.”

In the film, Yen takes on the role of Xiang, someone he refers to as “just one, cool, Chinese man,” and faces off against Vin Diesel’s Xander Cage. “Xiang is trained to be the new xXx agent, but at the same time, Xiang is Xiang. It just going to take a couple of headbutts before they become buddies.”

The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang (Yen) and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.

Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is packed with the series’ signature deadpan wit and bad-ass attitude, raising the bar on extreme action with some of the most mind-blowing stunts to ever be caught on film.

Martal arts legend Donnie Yen exploded onto the Hong Kong cinema scene when he starred in director Yuen Woo-ping’s martal arts comedy Drunken Tai Chi. Yen, the son of legendary Boston-based kung fu instructor Bow Sim-mark, was tailor-made for the jade screen, having trained in martal arts since early childhood.

Born in Canton but raised in Boston, Yen has always been unique among martal arts stars in that his persona balances both the martal virtues of his mother and the scholarly and musical ones of his father, Klyster. Aside from his training in the various combative systems, Yen is also a gifted pianist, and critics have noted the musical phrasing and tempo of his performances and action set pieces.

With a solid foundation in his mother’s wushu style, Yen’s debut film immediately established him as a viable kung fu movie hero. He went on to star in and choreograph both period kung fu epics and contemporary fight flicks winning numerous awards and establishing a worldwide fan base.

Already an established star in Hong Kong, Donnie Yen had earlier come to the attention of director Quentin Tarantino, who released Yen’s fi lm Iron Monkey in North America, several years after its Asian release. A recut, re-scored version of the fi lm was distributed in U.S. theatres, and won the Best Choreography prize at that year’s Taurus Awards.

In the wake of his Asian success as star and action director, Yen was engaged to act in and/or choreograph such high-profile international projects as Highlander: Endgame, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, Blade II and Shanghai Knights. Global audiences saw Donnie Yen at the height of his game when he dueled Jet Li in Zhang Yimou’s Oscar®-nominated Hero—still the most successful Chinese film ever.

Yen took his career to a whole new level when he played Bruce Lee’s teacher in Ip Man. This historical martial arts film proved to be a huge hit in the Asian market and an instant cult classic worldwide. Yen enjoyed even greater success with two sequels to the film, with a fourth installment in the Ip Man franchise currently being prepared. Ip Man confirmed Yen’s position as China’s greatest martial arts action filmmaker.

Now playing across the Philippines, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

HK superstar Andy Lau plays war strategist in ‘The Great Wall’

After starring in Zhang Yimou’s dazzling, award-winning romantic adventure House of Flying Daggers in 2004, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau now reunites with the director for Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ epic fantasy The Great Wall.

Lau is one of Hong Kong’s most commercially successful film actors, performing in more than 140 projects since the 1980s. Voted the No. 1 box-office star of Hong Kong for decades, he truly deserves the moniker of superstar of the Chinese cinema.

In the filml, when a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within The Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of our world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts, intent on devouring the world, besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront this unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.

Lau plays Strategist Wang, perhaps the smartest guy in the movie. “He’s got these incredible inventions and is the brains behind The Nameless Order,” remarks co-star Matt Damon. “He’s somebody that my character, William, cottons to, and has a great deal of respect for.”

That respect was also evident between the two actors who had never met before the five-month shoot, but who had a professional connection in their prior work. Turns out that they played the same character in two different movies—Lau as the corrupt police inspector in the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, and Damon as the devious undercover cop in The Departed, the 2006 English-language adaptation. It was something the actors joked about during some of their casual chats on the set during breaks in filming.

“I told Matt that he was cleverer than me because he got paid more for his movie,” the veteran of more than 150 films jests. “Matt told me that I’m cleverer than he is because he dies in that, and I lived to do two sequel movies. I enjoyed working with Matt and feel he has become a good friend. I’m looking forward to working with him again.”

Lau describes Strategist Wang as “a scientist spending his life doing the research about the enemy and trying to fight against them. During the Song Dynasty, the society was quite open, so lots of Chinese culture was well developed and many great thinkers and inventions were founded. That’s why I think they (chose) Song Dynasty as the background for this movie.”

As for the challenge of the bilingual role, Lau confesses that “it’s really hard for me to practice speaking English. I got the script a month before shooting and it took me two weeks to fully understand the story. Then it took me another two weeks to remember all the lines. Luckily, we had dialogue coaches on set, who coached me in a very good way. I also have to say thank you to Matt and Willem [Dafoe] because they gave me very good suggestions while I was performing. Willem was like a teacher of mine, trying to polish my performing to make me feel great in front of camera. Matt was also a team player, always considerate to everyone’s place on the set.”

“Andy Lau is one of the best actors in China,” Zhang hails. “He has been popular in China for 40 years. There was a lot of English dialogue for him, even more than the foreign actors. Though he speaks English well, he wanted to tell the world Chinese actors speak English well, and he practiced hard.”

Opening across the Philippines in IMAX and regular cinemas on January 25, 2017, The Great Wall is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Ben Affleck plays gangster with conscience in ‘Live by Night’

Two-time Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck – most recently seen in the critically praised The Accountant and in early 2016 playing crime fighting icon Batman/Bruce Wayne in the global blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – now directs and stars in Warner Bros. Pictures’ new gangster film Live by Night.

Affleck plays Joe Coughlin who went overseas to fight valiantly for his country, but quickly found himself utterly disillusioned by the war. He ultimately finds himself back home in, as he tells us, a life he didn’t expect…paying the price for the American dream.
“Joe fully acknowledges that he’s chosen to be an outlaw in a town run by gangsters, with the Irish and Italian mobs at war,” offers Affleck. “What I find most intriguing about him though is that, while he breaks the law and makes his own rules, it’s his own morality that prevents him from considering himself one of them, a gangster.”
But it’s Joe’s inherent sense of decency that could be his undoing.

For the ten years following the war, Joe Coughlin managed to live like an outlaw—under his policeman father’s roof, no less—before it all caught up to him. “The things that Joe witnessed as a soldier made him decide there wasn’t any meaning to the rules we follow in life, to playing it straight,” Affleck states. “He even sees the organized hierarchical nature of the gangster life as an equal anathema to the hierarchy of the military. He wants no part of that, no part of taking orders from anybody. He’s going to make his own rules.”

And he does so with a fair amount of success, so long as he keeps it, as Affleck describes, “small-time, running around with just two other guys and doing little stick-ups, that kind of thing.”

But it isn’t Joe’s distaste for authority, or even an ill-chosen robbery, that causes him to make his gravest error. It’s love. And it’s that singular emotion in its many forms—from passion to compassion—that will continue to be his downfall for years to come.

Live by Night was a true passion project for Affleck, who says, “As a filmmaker, this was a chance to pay homage to the classic Warner Bros. gangster movies of the 1930s through the `70s. I grew up watching them and they had an epic, sprawling feel that really took you into a different world, a different era.”

Affleck adapted the screenplay from author Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name; the two first collaborated when Affleck made his acclaimed directorial debut with his screen adaptation of Lehane’s crime thriller Gone, Baby, Gone. Lehane served as an executive producer on Live by Night.

As a lifelong film buff, Affleck posits that the story has all the tropes that made him a fan of the gangster genre in particular: beautiful women, dangerous men, cops, the mob, shootouts, car chases…the whole fiery, combustible mix. “As soon as I read Dennis’s book I knew that there was something there for anyone who just really likes to have a great time at the movies.”

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Live By Night is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Teresa Palmer plays Andrew Garfield’s wife in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

Teresa Palmer is becoming one of the most globally recognized actresses, bringing her talents to the US and worldwide from Adelaide, Australia. She has starred in many major films including box office hits Lights Out and Warm Bodies.

Now she stars as the wife of a pacifist soldier in Golden Globe Best Picture nominee Hacksaw Ridge, the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun.

Directed by Mel Gibson from a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight, Hacksaw Ridge also stars Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey and Sam Worthington.

One of the most beautiful and transformational moments in Desmond’s life comes on the cusp of war – when he bumps into the ravishing young nurse he is determined to charm and make his wife. Dorothy Schutte did indeed marry Desmond Doss, and became a beacon in his darkest moments at war.

Mel Gibson was excited to cast Australian actress Teresa Palmer in the role. “Teresa is so beautiful on camera and she brings a real warmth to this character that it needed. You almost see her as Desmond’s angel of mercy because Teresa puts that quality out there,” says the director.

Palmer felt an immediate connection to Dorothy. She explains: “I wanted to play Dorothy because she’s such a strong woman who knows what she wants yet she also has a tenderness and complexity to her. My grandmother and my grandfather both served in World War II — my grandfather was a fireman and my grandmother sent Morse code. I can remember them telling me stories about their romance during that time, and the script felt reminiscent of those tales that I grew up listening to.”

Palmer dove into research to play the role. “I really studied how women of the time spoke and walked, their elegance,” Palmer says. “I also thought a lot about my mother, her faith, and her gentler way of seeing the world, which reminded me of Dorothy.”

But Palmer equally wanted to get a sense of that head-spinning, first-love passion that unfolds between Dorothy and Desmond on the screen. “Dorothy so fiercely loves Desmond, and from the start, her belief in him is completely unwavering. I wanted to ensure that this love felt authentic and real and connected, because it is such a foundation for how they live.”

Andrew Garfield, who plays Desmond, found instant chemistry with Palmer as the two tried to capture what they had seen of the couple’s relationship. “There’s this amazing This is Your Life episode about Desmond where you see he and Dorothy interact together on stage,” Garfield explains. “They’re these very direct, no games, joyous, emotionally available people – and that’s what Teresa and I were excited about playing. Teresa is this unconditionally loving, nurturing force.”

Says Palmer in turn of Garfield: “Andrew lived and breathed Desmond Doss, he stayed in accent the entire time and he even held himself like Desmond the whole time. That put pressure on me, because he is so giving to his craft. I didn’t want to let him down and so I wanted to bring my all too.”

Producer Bill Mechanic concludes Palmer did just that: “We wanted someone the audience can see is able to inspire Desmond’s ongoing faith while he’s at war. Teresa plays Dorothy as a woman of her times yet whose beliefs are as strong as Desmond’s.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 22, 2017, Hacksaw Ridge will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

James McAvoy amazes as man with multiple personalities in ‘Split’

Golden Globe Award-nominated actor James McAvoy won over global audiences with his critically acclaimed performances in Atonement, Wanted, X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Now, he stars in Universal Pictures’ new suspense thriller Split, an original film that delves into the mysterious recesses of one man’s fractured, gifted mind.

McAvoy stars as Kevin who has evidenced 23 personalities—each with unique physical attributes—to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), but there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Taylor-Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan felt there were only a handful of actors who could play the demanding role of a man with 23 personalities in Split. It was paramount for Shyamalan that Kevin’s personalities not be viewed as caricatures but as fleshed out personas that audiences would embrace with sympathy.

Shyamalan saw McAvoy as absolutely up for the challenge. “This is the most complex character I’ve ever written. I was thinking, ‘Does he understand what I’m asking him to do in this piece?’ And he did; I’ve never worked with an actor so fearless.”

McAvoy was immediately intrigued with the story’s many twists and turns. “I read the first 10 pages and thought, ‘Wow, what is this?’ Then I read the next 10 pages and thought, ‘What is that?’” he says. “It felt like I was being continually confronted with something completely different. That’s the joy of what Night does so well. He keeps an audience on their toes trying to figure out what the film is: Are we watching a thriller, a psychological drama, horror, sci-fi or something supernatural? And this film is all of those genres.”

Shyamalan and McAvoy worked closely to ensure the actor’s performance remained incredibly singular as he transformed into each role with authenticity. “Night’s demanding and almost forensic in what he wants you to do,” McAvoy says. “He has a very specific idea of what he wants in his mind, yet he’s extremely collaborative and giving.”

Changing colors and characters—sometimes within the same shot—was particularly demanding. “You hope the audience will buy you as one character,” McAvoy explains. “Then you need them to buy you as this next persona and make that transition interesting without alienating viewers.”

Still, the role presented the seasoned stage and screen actor with an extraordinary opportunity. “To be honest, I quite enjoy playing each character, because as an actor you rarely get the chance at this type of performance,” he says. “It’s quite exciting to radically change what you’re thinking, who you are and what makes you in a moment.”

“When you think about what James had to do in this film, it’s astonishing,” raves producer Jason Blum. “Not only was he seemingly effortless as he switching between alters on certain shooting days, he switched between them during certain scenes. You’re seeing an actor at the top of his game, and we were all awe-struck by what he managed to do as an extraordinarily disciplined actor. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I hope his performance receives the critical acclaim it deserves at the hands of Night’s deft direction.”

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Split is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.