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This week's cover: 'Django Unchained' draws its guns

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Welcome back to History 101 with Professor Quentin Tarantino. Please take a seat.

Three years after he rewrote the third act of WWII with Inglourious Basterds (and a full two decades after he first two-hand blasted his way into Hollywood with Reservoir Dogs) Tarantino is back with another film that splices actual history and cinematic history into one outlandish adventure. This time around it’s a mission for love, not country: Django Unchained, in theaters Dec. 25, follows the story of a liberated slave (Jamie Foxx) — aided by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) — on a quest to save his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of a cruel plantation owner, played by first-time villain Leonardo DiCaprio.
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This week's cover: Go inside 'The Hobbit'

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If you think all of the amped-up anticipation and feverish speculation surrounding Peter Jackson’s long-awaited return to Middle-earth with The Hobbit has been intense — well, just imagine being Martin Freeman. From the moment he was cast as the reluctant hobbit hero Bilbo Baggins in Jackson’s epic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved children’s book, the British actor has been doing his best to shut out all of the noise for his sanity’s sake. Going on-line to eavesdrop on the fans’ expectations and armchair-quarterbacking of The Hobbit is “a suicide mission,” he tells EW. “If I read one bad thing about me — it can be one person’s opinion in Idaho — I’m like, ‘Jesus, why does everyone hate me?’ ” he says. “If you read four of those, you think, ‘Everyone in the solar system hates me!’ Then even if you read 80 people saying, ‘I think he’s wonderful and I really want to f— him,’ you’re still thinking, ‘But that person in Idaho…’ ” He pauses and adds drily, “In short, I don’t really seek out the Hobbit stuff.”

With the Dec. 14 release of the first installment, An Unexpected Journey, finally almost here, this week’s issue of EW goes deep into “the Hobbit stuff,” exploring the film’s long, difficult road to the big screen and the critical, sometimes controversial creative decisions Jackson has made along the way — most notably, his surprising decision to turn the planned two-film adaptation into a full trilogy. That decision took even Freeman aback at first. “At first, I must say, I was like, ‘Why?’ ” the actor says, adding that he quickly came around. “You kind of think, ‘I’ve already put this much of my life into two movies. What am I going to do now — not put it into three?’ In for a penny, in for a pound.” READ FULL STORY

This Week's Cover: Our Entertainers of the Year!

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And EW’s Entertainer of the Year is… Ben Affleck!

Having captivated moviegoers both in front of and behind the camera with Argo, Ben Affleck earned the number one spot on our annual list of the most talented and original performers who entertained us in 2012.

Fifteen years after he bounded onto the Hollywood scene in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, the 40-year-old Affleck is now older and wiser — and may very well be headed back to the Oscar stage for his political thriller about the real-life covert CIA mission that freed six diplomats from Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis. “I had very low expectations for Argo‘s performance,” says the leading man-turned-director. “I just hoped that over time people would find the movie. Also, being at a place in my life and my career where I know what I’m trying to do, it’s different than being 26. When you’re younger and have the early success that I had — it sounds like the worst Hallmark cliche — but I didn’t have anyone to share it with. I don’t mean I wanted someone to sit by the fire with. But when you have a family and children, you kind of see yourself reflected in them. I want to make the kinds of movies that my kids are proud of. I have higher standards, in a way, for them.”

Not that everyone back at the Affleck household was thrilled about his shaggy ’70s Method hairdo and beard. Says Affleck of his wife Jennifer Garner’s reaction: “My wife is a very polite and kind woman. She and the kids did not like the beard. It had an exposed wire vibe. It was hated in my home.”

See what Affleck had to say about storytelling and working on Argo in the exclusive video below. READ FULL STORY

This Week's Cover: Why 'Sons of Anarchy' is the most badass show on TV

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Just because he’s the mastermind behind FX’s most-successful series ever, doesn’t mean that Kurt Sutter is the picture of serenity these days — especially in the editing room. If there’s one thing that makes the executive producer’s job more difficult than ever, it’s finding a way to wedge in all the great performances into one 44-minute episode of SOA.

Most times, he can’t — which is why the network has been “really generous on time” by giving Sutter four 90 minute-episodes to wrap the drama’s fifth season, ending Dec. 4. But he still had to make tough choices. “I just can’t get it all in,” laments Sutter to EW. “It’s interesting because my scripts keep getting tighter in terms of page count and yet I keep getting directors cuts that are longer and longer. A scene that would normally play out in two minutes now takes like 3½ minutes because they’re much more emotionalized. It’s really about letting those scenes breathe so they can have the life they’re supposed to have, because there is so much more at stake.”
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This week's cover: 'Star Wars,' the once and future franchise

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George Lucas shocked the entertainment world with the announcement of a $4.05 billion deal that would give Lucasfilm –including Luke Skywalker’s home galaxy– to the Walt Disney Company. The news flash represented far more than the latest checkbook chapter in this Disney empire-building era (Pixar, Marvel and the Muppets are already part of the corporate universe) or a colossal moment in the philanthropic world (Lucas will donate most of the money to charity); the Star Wars saga will strike back in 2015 with the opening installment of a new live-action trilogy as the new team–with Jurassic Park and Lincoln producer Kathleen Kennedy Lucasfilm’s president– tries to make magic for Disney shareholders.

Where will the plot go? What characters and actors might be feeling the Force? Who will direct? We offer an inside report on the future of the franchise — as well our own Yoda-like advice about the best path to Jedi glory and the slippery route that could send the Skywalkers tumbling into a conceptual trash compactor. Plus, A-List filmmakers weigh in on the big announcement (and one of them has a bad feeling about this).


For news and analysis on the future Star Wars movies, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands November 16th.

Read more:
Mark Hamill weighs in on the future of ‘Star Wars’ — EXCLUSIVE
Who should direct new ‘Star Wars’ movie? Christopher Nolan? Joss Whedon?
‘Star Wars’ reaction: Abrams, Favreau, Nolfi, and Rodriguez weigh in — EXCLUSIVE

This Week's Cover: Our annual holiday movie preview -- 'Les Mis', 'Zero Dark Thirty', 'Lincoln', and more

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A group of singing revolutionaries, a terrorist takedown expert, a bi-polar romantic, and Abraham Lincoln walk into a movie theater … That’s the line-up heading to the multiplex this holiday season, and in this week’s Entertainment Weekly we go behind-the-scenes of the musical rebellion Les Miserables (out Dec. 14), the Osama bin Laden search-and-destroy mission Zero Dark Thirty (coming in December), Bradley Cooper’s unhinged love story Silver Linings Playbook (Nov. 21), and talk to Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner about his screenplay adaptation for Lincoln (Nov. 8). And with award season in full swing, we also forecast the Oscar hopes for these films, as well a many others striving toward that golden Hollywood god.

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This week's cover: Bond is back -- Daniel Craig on the new 007 film, 'Skyfall'

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James Bond is back with a double-O bang in Skyfall. The first 007 installment in four years, Skyfall (out Nov. 9) is a different kind of Bond film. It reaches back to the past, nodding to classic bits of Bond lore like Monty Norman’s original Bond theme and the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, and looks to the future, as 007 and Judi Dench’s M grapple with being dinosaurs in a world that’s speeding past them. There’s also a new director (Oscar-winner Sam Mendes), a new Q (Ben Whishaw), a pair of new Bond girls (Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe), and a new villain who’s so flamboyantly nasty that he immediately vaults to the top tier of Bond baddies (Javier Bardem). In other words, it’s the ideal film to cap Bond’s first 50 years — and make fans bullish about the next 50.

In this week’s Entertainment Weekly, we sit down with Bond himself, Daniel Craig, to discuss the role that’s changed his life for better and worse. He tells us about his reluctance to take on the role back in 2005 when he was first asked to replace Pierce Brosnan, how he roped Mendes into directing the film (here’s a hint, it included booze and Hugh Jackman), and what it was like working with a costar even more famous than he is — Queen Elizabeth II — during his now-famous skydiving skit for this summer’s Olympics opening ceremony. “My first reaction was, ‘How many people will be watching? A billion and a half?! I guess I’m doing this.’ She was great, a really good sport. When they brought it to me, they’d already told her that I’d be doing it. I didn’t have much of a choice. It was literally a Luca Brasi situation from The Godfather — an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Craig, who recently signed on for two more Bond films, also talks about the future of the franchise and where he’d like to see it go. “Everybody always moans, ‘Where’s Bond gone? Where’s all the jokes?’ Well, give us time! I always had a master plan in the back of my head that with the third movie — if I ever got there — it would be time to take the gloves off and bring the gags back in.”

Read more about Skyfall in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands October 26th. And remember, it’s for your eyes only.

Related:
Is Javier Bardem playing the first gay Bond villain in ‘Skyfall’? Bardem and director Sam Mendes weigh in
New ‘Skyfall’ trailer glows with Adele’s theme — VIDEO
‘Skyfall’ action clip: James Bond catches his train in style

This week's cover: 'Once Upon a Time' plans a wild ride

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In this week’s Entertainment Weekly, we take Once Upon a Time showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz to Disneyland as we get the scoop on the ABC hit’s second season and beyond. While checking out Walt’s traditional versions of Once‘s iconic characters like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, the writer-producers reveal how their gleefully revisionist fairy tale series will become the ultimate TV mashup of wildly different people and locations from various fictional sources — not unlike the park itself. Fairy tales were just the beginning.

“It’s like when you were young and had Star Wars figures and you mixed them with G.I. Joe,” Kitsis says. “Cobra and Darth Vader might not have known each other, but they do in my backyard. We’ve taken the principle of being 12-year-old boys and we’ve brought it to primetime.”

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This Week's Cover: The casts of 'Arrested Development', 'Clueless' and more get back together in the Reunions Issue!

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Are you ready for your yearly dose of pop-culture nostalgia? Entertainment Weekly‘s third annual Reunions Issue brings together ten of your favorite TV and movie casts, from The Larry Sanders Show to Breaking Away. To top it off, fans of Arrested Development, Melrose Place, and Clueless can celebrate their pop-culture favorites with special collector’s edition covers, which are available to buy individually. Here’s a sampling of what to expect:

Clueless: The high school satire may have evolved into a coming-of-age classic, but not every cast-member was immediately smitten with their character. Alicia Silverstone recounts her first impression of Cher: “I thought, ‘Who is this girl?’ I had nothing in common with her at all. I thought she was a materialistic, annoying little bitch.” She and co-star Donald Faison also admit that they didn’t immediately get most of the now-famous slang in the film. Says Faison: “I had no idea what the hell I was saying. What the f— is a ‘Monet’? What’s ‘going postal’ mean? And when they explained to me what it meant, I thought, ‘That’s really messed up!'”
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This Week's Cover: Tina Fey on her career in comedy and saying goodbye to '30 Rock'

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After seven seasons, 10 Emmys, and countless catchphrases — Blerg! I want to go to there! High-fiving a million angels!30 Rock will wrap up its illustrious and delightfully bizarre run early next year. To help us cope with the loss, we sat down with Rock‘s creator and star, Tina Fey, for a wide-ranging EW Interview. (Click here to buy the issue.) We arrived on set just in time to witness a scene from the third episode of the final season (which premieres October 4 at 8 p.m. on NBC), in which Fey’s Liz Lemon is appalled to learn a shocking secret about Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). Explains Fey, “I discover that Tracy Jordan has tweeted, “I agree @theRealStephenHawking. Women are just not funny — never have been, never will be. #plotpoint.” (We won’t ruin the outcome for you, but suffice it to say that the resolution involves Lemon dressed in a lab coat and declaring, “Don’t thank me — thank Roe v. Wade!”) READ FULL STORY

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