Sharon Stone took the stage on Thursday night’s GQ Men of the Year Awards in Berlin, Germany. While accepting the Woman of the Year Award, the actress eschewed a traditional speech and, instead, encountered a chair onstage and made herself comfortable. Instantly, the audience realized that because Stone was wearing a short skirt, something might be afoot, and sure enough, Stone meant to evoke a similar reaction as with that Basic Instinct interrogation scene, when her character turns the tables on not only Michael Douglas but those who question her motives.
Once Stone sat down in the chair, an audible reaction rose from the audience, and obviously, people were wondering if the 61-year-old actress was truly about to reenact the 1992 scene. Yet she knew exactly what she was doing and harnessed the mood to discuss the filming of that scene in loosely defined terms, with Stone making a point about life-ering moments:
“Some years ago I was sitting on a sound stage, and my director said, ‘Can you hand me your underpants because we’re seeing them in the scene and you shouldn’t have underpants on but we won’t see anything.’ I said, ‘Sure.’ I didn’t know this moment would change my life.”
This led Stone to instruct the audience to cross, uncross, and cross their own legs, along with asking if this gesture made them feel empowered. More than likely, not everyone in the room felt that way, which was Stone’s point. Everyone can feel empowered or not by their own experiences in life, and what’s really important is what these stand-out moments mean to an individual. “We have every right to be powerful in whatever form of sexuality we choose to have,” she declared. “And no one is allowed to take that away from you.”
The documentary Sea of Shadows has gained a prominent advocate as it steams into awards season.
Renowned conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall is praising the film, which tells the story of dramatic efforts to save the last few remaining vaquita whales—an adorable dolphin-like creature native to the Sea of Cortez off Baja California.
“ Sea of Shadows is so important,” Goodall, who was not involved in the production of the documentary, tells Deadline. “Not only does it bring awareness about the existence of this little whale, and I must say I'd never heard of it, but in addition to that, those people who are out there trying to save the vaquita, risking their lives.”
Goodall, her gray hair pulled back neatly in a ponytail, held a plush toy vaquita in her lap as she spoke with Deadline at a hotel in West Hollywood.
“I think the importance of the vaquita lies in a challenge to us. Do we care? Are we prepared to work, to save even a species as little known as the vaquita?” she questioned. “We are in the middle of the sixth great extinction. We're losing animals and plants at a terrifying rate. And the vaquita is just one challenge. Are we going to let this very unique, very beautiful little creature just go or are we going to fight for it?”
The population of vaquita whales is down to a little over a dozen. They're perishing in gill nets strung illegally across the Sea of Cortez by traffickers attempting to ensnare a fish called the totoaba, known as the “cocaine of the sea.” The totoaba possesses a swim bladder prized in traditional Chinese medicine, which fetches huge prices on the black market.
“It can go for up to $100,000 per swim bladder,” notes Andrea Crosta, a subject of the film and co-founder of the conservation group Earth League International. “These nets put in the ocean to catch totoaba are actually killing everything else. They are killing machines basically—dolphins, whales, sharks, birds, turtles, everything. So it must be stopped.”
Mexican drug cartels are immersed in the lucrative trade, coordinating with Chinese accomplices in Tijuana. The film shows Crosta and associates attempting to infiltrate those operations, at great personal risk.
“We have a mix of teams that are more overt and other teams that are completely covert,” Crosta explains. “Some of them pretend to be buyers and traffickers themselves. Our objective is very clear—to understand who does what, how, when, why. In other words, [gathering] intelligence or even actionable intelligence that then law enforcement can use immediately to hit the right person in the right time and the right place.”
Sea Shepherd, the international marine wildlife conservation organization, is also fighting to protect the remaining vaquita. It has a vessel patrolling the Sea of Cortez, yanking as many deadly nets out of the water as possible. That has made the crew, including drone operator Jack Hutton, a target of well-armed poachers.
“Since Sundance [where the film premiered in January] the ship has been attacked five times. We've been boarded [by poachers], we've had molotov cocktails hit the side. We've had up to 30 boats come out and smash our windows in,” Hutton tells Deadline. “We're getting as many nets as we always have...My every day is pulling a net out of the ocean, cutting animals out of that net, getting chased by poachers, doing drones activity. That's every single day there. It's a very intense campaign.”
National Geographic acquired Richard Ladkani's film at the Sundance Film Festival in a deal worth $3 million. It won the audience award there for World Cinema Documentary and is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the upcoming IDA Awards. Sea of Shadows will air commercial-free this Saturday on the NatGeo channel.
Terra Mater Factual Studios/Richard Ladkani
Among the film's executive producers is Leonardo DiCaprio, whose production company Appian Way joined Terra Mater Factual Studios to produce the documentary. DiCaprio attended the Los Angeles premiere of Sea of Shadows in July, watching from the audience as Dr. Goodall introduced the film.
“Every species out there in this amazing tapestry of life has a role to play,” Goodall said in her introduction. “We don't now exactly what role the vaquita plays but it's part of an amazing ocean ecosystem. So of course it's desperately important that efforts are made to try to save it.”
Goodall views Sea of Shadows in the larger context of environmental damage humans are inflicting on the planet.
“We are trying to disconnect ourselves with the natural world, but we can't. We are part of it, we depend on it,” she comments. “Isn't it odd that this most intellectual of all creatures to probably ever walk on planet Earth is destroying its only home. It seems there's a disconnect between the clever brain and the human heart, love and compassion. And, you know, we're making decisions not like it used to be, how will this affect future generations, but how will it affect me, now? And that's what's leading to the enormous danger for the survival of the vaquita.”
Built on the steel beams of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' legendary Watchmen comic and expanded out across three decades of alt-American history before being sunk into the soil of a country that mirrors our own, Damon Lindelof and his team have created a buzzworthy and tonally relevant piece of art. But how did they manage to sew this new thing into an old thing in a way that feels so seamless and what's the story behind some of the most visually interesting and otherwise compelling scenes in the pilot episode?
Uproxx spoke with series producer and episode one and two director Nicole Kassel to gain some insight. But warning: if you haven't seen the pilot, go back and do that now because spoilers are not spared.
On the influence of the Watchmen comics on the visual identity of the TV series.
I was very influenced by the framing. Once I read the pilot and came on board, then I did a deep dive into the aesthetic of the source. What could the Easter eggs be? And the vertical frame is so unique. So it was immediately how to look for frames within frames. And composition. The source is an unbelievable piece of art and cinema — it really is. So I have just been paying homage to it for the fans. We're telling a totally different story, [but] I wanted the DNA of it to be there. So composition, very strict framing because a comic's not moving the camera much. The lighting and transitions were a huge influence. Just these really graphic match cuts where a face is in-frame or extreme wide to extreme tight looking. Or using color to transition.
On researching and presenting the Tulsa race riot devastation accurately.
“There's a book called 'The Burning' by Tim Madigan. As soon as I heard about the story, that it was true which I only learned from the manuscript and talking to Damon [Lindelof]... as soon as I came on board, I read the book and then I had the assistant director and her team read the book and we pulled all of our research from that. Just every vignette you see on screen is documented in detail. And it was essential to me to be as accurate as possible and not to sensationalize, not to exaggerate anything, just to be as truthful as possible.”
On creating Sister Night's hero montage.
We wanted to obviously honor that we're in this genre, so there is the sequence of the costume coming together. The “Batcave.” This is her version of her secret lair and the ingredients are strange. It's a badge, but it's also a crucifix and a rosary. And really, all I cared about was making a kick-ass hero introduction. And working, being inspired by her costume. To me, that really told me where to put the camera. The way the skirt sweeps and not wanting to reveal her face until the reveal. So just making it kinetic and exciting.
On constructing the cow field raid.
I had the gift of finding a location that was perfectly designed for it. It's in Georgia. And we found it during our very first time when we were trying to choose which city to film in. We went out there and it was not as written but we knew that our cop team needed to be sitting ducks in a field. I hadn't imagined it being a trailer in a grove of trees, but it was a light bulb, like “this is great!” And the light source coming off once the bad guys realize we're onto them, the DP and I were watching Apocalypse Now and there is a sequence where Martin Sheen is approaching on a boat and there's a strobe light circling and it was just like that would be cool, if suddenly they're totally exposed. Because a field at night, it's hard to get anything interesting.
The cows we used... a lot of real cows but then once the gunfire started, everything is CGI.
On the importance of the dinner party scene.
One of the beauties of this cast is that they're all so good and such consummate actors and so supportive of each other. But we talked about, you're old friends and you've been through a lot together, you're fast friends for the last three years. It's Uncle Judd to the kids. Whether or not you know why, you are that close. They're all really great people. So what you're seeing on-screen was also the energy offscreen. And Don can really sing, but nobody there knew it. [Ed. note: it was at this point that we mentioned Johnson's “Heartbeat“]
That look of surprise on Regina's face was genuine. Like, “you can do that too?” And I think it was scary for him, but boy he just kills it. And it was essential that we truly love our hero leading into that final [scene] to be truly, totally heartbroken.
On filming the tree scene.
The filming of that was the very very last shot. It's exactly, to me, what Damon wrote. He wrote 'we push in over Old Man Will [Louis Gossett Jr.] and up the road.' It allows this emotional space, already having seen it to see it up close and the mechanics and the dread and the horror of what has happened. And then in the car with Regina, you're approaching... that call was so disconcerting and terrifying. For someone to know who she is is absolutely petrifying for her and she's driving right to it. She's also fearless. So that dread as she approaches and then the shock of the reveal. The shot that travels behind Will to the foot was... I just love cinema where you really use the camera to reveal story and as I read that scene I really felt... I just had that thought of one foot being bare just to make him so vulnerable. It's always weird to me in accidents, whether it's a car accident, a lightning strike, how people lose their shoes. It's so odd yet real and brutal. So we were just on the set and I saw that and asked for it.
The Rise of Skywalker star Naomi Ackie has just shed some more light on her mysterious character Jannah. The new information comes as Star Wars fans prepare for the new trailer to drop presumably next week. J.J. Abrams, along with the rest of the cast and crew have been doing a great job keeping all of the details about the movie under wraps, but as the release date gets closer, more about the final installment in the Skywalker Saga is starting to come out.
While we've seen glimpses of Naomi Ackie's Jannah in The Rise of Skywalker promotional material, we still don't know much about her at all. The same can be said about Keri Russell's Zorri Bliss, though the actress recently revealed some tiny details about the character. Thankfully, Naomi Ackie is now doing the same with Jannah. She had this to say.
"Jannah is a warrior, and she comes into contact with the rest of the group at a point where they need some help. She is part of the Resistance, and she's spent a long time acquiring skills that might be helpful when it comes to the big conclusion of the film. So she shows up at the right time."
One of Jannah's skills that Naomi Ackie was referring to is riding the Orbak, which is a "new horse-like creature seen in the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker." According to Ackie, learning to ride the Orbak was a lot harder than it looks, though she is more than happy with the results. In the end, she took in a new real-life skill. Ackie explains.
Related: Rise of Skywalker Comic Introduces Admiral Ackbar's Son Aftab
"I was training for seven months, three times a week, at an amazing horse ranch called The Devil's Horsemen. By the end of it, I could canter without any hands. I could play catch with balls while on a horse... It's the best part of the job - you get paid to learn!"
While we still don't know a whole lot about Jannah, there has been speculation that she is actually Lando Calrissian's daughter in The Rise of Skywalker. While Naomi Ackie didn't shoot the rumor down explicitly when asked about it over the summer, many believe this rumor to be false. With that being said, there is a lot of family on the screen in the latest Star Wars trilogy. Regardless, we now know she will have a part to play in the movie's conclusion.
The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th. The second trailer is expected to debut during Monday Night Football next Monday, October 21st. This has not been confirmed by anyone at Disney or Lucasfilm, but we did get an official new image of Zorri Bliss this morning and that usually means a trailer is being put together. For now, we'll just have to wait and see. You can check out the rest of the interview with Naomi Ackie over at Games Radar.
Joaquin Phoenix had one rule for the cast and crew of Joker. The actor has been praised for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck in the dark movie. While a lot of what Phoenix does on a movie set may come off as unorthodox, he is just into getting the performance right, which may come off as being rude at times. He lost 50 pounds for the role, which was something he was not initially into doing and stormed off the set a few times, only to later return and nail a scene. He apparently also got into an argument with Robert De Niro about acting.
As for what that one rule on the set of Joker was, it's pretty simple and one most people try to live by in daily life. Josh Pais, who plays Arthur Fleck's boss in the movie, recently spoke about working with Joaquin Phoenix and his one rule on the set, along with his talents as an actor. Before getting the role, Pais had a meeting with director Todd Phillips, who laid down the ground rules. He explains.
"I had a meeting with Todd. He said, 'I loved your tape. I just want to make sure that you're not an asshole because one person on set can really ruin the whole vibe of the thing.' Joaquin told Todd, 'I don't care who you cast, just make sure everybody is a really good actor - and no assholes.' So, I guess I passed the test."
No jerks on the set of a movie should be a given, but that's not always the way it works in life. Plus, some may have taken Joaquin Phoenix's behavior on the Joker set as going against his one rule. Josh Pais does not thinks so and praises the actor for his ability to help create a focused set. Pais had this to say about working with Phoenix.
Related: Joker Sets Another Box Office Record as It Passes $350M Worldwide
"I worked three days. The level of concentration, the level that we all knew Joaquin was going to bring to this created such a focused set. I felt like I had to bring my A-game, and everybody on the crew felt the same. There was very little extraneous work going on. Very often between a take, the sandwiches come out, and everybody starts chit-chatting. And then, X amount of time tends to happen before it's like, 'Oh wait, let's get back to shooting.' That was not happening on this. It was extremely focused, and it was a high level of concentration... Everybody was bringing it."
The level of focus helped the Joker production run like a well-oiled machine, which involved Todd Phillips conducting reshoots as principal photography was still rolling. Reshoots were not a luxury that they had, so Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix would conduct rewrites as they were shooting, which ended up making some extra work in a day, but kept everything moving to completion. The end result does not show any signs of a rush job and comes off as focused.
When they were done, Joaquin Phoenix had to get back to eating normal food and Todd Phillips took Joker into the post-production phase. Now that the movie is in theaters and the controversy is dying down, many are looking at the box office numbers and predicting it will cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office. It looks like Phoenix's one rule on the set paid off in a major way, though some comic book fans may believe Mark Marin was the exception. You can read the rest of the interview with Josh Pais over at The Hollywood Reporter.
Fifteen years ago, a television show changed Network TV and serialized genre storytelling forever. Combining Survivor with Twin Peaks, Lost quickly became a global phenomenon. It made its large cast overnight superstars, and it inspired dozens of copycats with its use of flashbacks, and its character-first approach to the story that was still sprinkled with a fascinating mystery involving smoke monsters, polar bears and eventually time-travel. We’re still living in the shadow of Lost, and when you watch Game of Thrones or This Is Us, you can still see its influences.
But what we’ve come to associate with Lost weren’t exactly there from the beginning. The pilot used flashbacks, sure, and episode two started the tradition of focusing on a single character’s flashback each episode. However, it wasn’t until episode three, ‘Walkabout’, which aired 15 years ago this past weekend, that Lost truly cemented itself as a ground-breaking new player in Network TV. ‘Walkabout’ managed to combine the show’s characters-first storytelling with a rich mystery by introducing the mystical properties of the Island, and by using the flashbacks to really flesh out the characters and take the audience by surprise with memorable twists.
This article contains spoilers for all of Lost.
The episode centers on John Locke Terry O’Quinn, who by this point the audience had come to know as a mysterious badass who seems to be the only one prepared for surviving on the Island, able to hunt and build, carrying around a suitcase full of knives. But the flashbacks tell a different story, as we see a Locke that actually was just a low-level box company employee belittled by everyone he knew, arguably the most tragic character backstory in the entire show. And of course, the last minutes of the episode reveal that John Locke was also paralyzed from the waist down before the crash.
Episode two, ‘Tabula Rasa’ didn’t really offer any new information on Kate, as we already knew she was the fugitive since the pilot episode. But ‘Walkabout’ was a huge revelation for fans, who were realizing that everything we thought we knew about the people on the Island or even about Lost was wrong, and that’s how it would be for the rest of the show’s run. As co-creator and co-showrunner Damon Lindelof said in an interview for VOX: “This character had been presented as this very sort of mystical figure moving forward. I think the thing that we were really excited about was this idea that we were presenting Locke as one thing, as sort of like the hunter, the survivalist, the guy who brought all the knives. But his first flashback was going to show you that he was just a cubicle jockey.” Indeed, the flashback changed how people saw John Locke, making him an even more fascinating character.
Before the show introduced conspiracies, secret organizations, time-travel and immortal beings, Lost was about a group of people who had to learn to live together in order not to die alone, with a few mysteries sprinkled on it to make the drama more interesting. Indeed, in the earlier days of the show, ABC was scared of the prospect of a genre show, so the creators had to make them believe it was simply an absolutely self-contained, episodic show that would be easy to drop in and out of and never get confused by the mythology. In that regard, ‘Walkabout’ perfectly encapsulates the early seasons of Lost, a show about a group of people coming together in an Island that may hold special properties.
Outside of Locke’s flashbacks, the episode deals with Jack and Rose talking about her husband Bernard and the possibility that the people in the tail section of the plane are still alive, and Claire putting together a memorial for those who lost their lives in the crash. Even something as simple as Sun caring for Walt while Michael joins Locke and Kate to go hunt some boars brings home the idea that these people are starting to build a community that will help them heal from their previous traumas, all of which starts right in ‘Walkabout’ – and lead the castaways to become so close they create a space in the afterlife for everyone to reunite. The flashback in this episode and subsequent ones would flesh out the individual characters, while the stories on the Island would develop the characters through their relationships with one another.
‘Walkabout’ was also significant because, as the on-Island story began building the community that would become the core of Lost, it also deepened the mythology of the Island. Towards the end of the episode, Jack sees a man in a suit walking into the jungle, who would later become a big part of the show and central to Jack’s arc, and more importantly, Locke comes face to face with the monster.
This last bit is vital for the rest of the show, as Locke looking at the monster everyone else was afraid of and not even flinching – together with his miraculously healing upon the crash – informs Locke’s arc as the “man of faith” who becomes obsessed with the Island and is ultimately fooled by forces greater than him. Even from the pilot episode, Locke is in many ways Lost’s first real mystery. When we first meet him, he is just an enigma in the form of a symbolic man that we see smiling with an orange peel obscuring his teeth, the only survivor who welcomes torrential rain with open arms as the rest of the castaways run to find shelter. Even before we see that he was magically healed by the Island, the audience is already wondering who he is and what he knows. In episode five, ‘White Rabbit’, Jack thinks he’s hallucinating his dead father, introducing the “man of science” versus “man of faith” dynamic that would follow them for the rest of the show.
Throughout the flashbacks in ‘Walkabout’ we see how Locke was always obsessed with the idea of fate and destiny, sure that there is something special waiting for him. As the show goes on and even more tragic events are added to his backstory, we understand how Locke sees the pains and setbacks in his life as proof that something better is coming to him soon. Then he gets confirmation that he is indeed special, as the Island chooses him to be healed of his paralysis. He seems to easily find the mysteries of the Island – even coming face to face with its version of the devil and coming out the side thinking it was beautiful. This becomes central to Locke’s character arc, but also to the show’s larger mythology, as it starts planting the seeds of the chosen people of the Island first Locke and Walt which would lead to Jacob and the lighthouse in season 6.
By ending ‘Walkabout’ with another flash to the crash from the pilot episode but from Locke’s perspective, the episode recontextualizes this grizzly and painful ordeal with blood-curdling screams and turns it into a magical birthing scene wherein a disabled man becomes the person he always wanted to be. For the rest of the castaways this was the worst thing that could happen to them, but Locke this was the best, and it became his mission in life to protect this place that saved him from his previous life – even if it meant sacrificing his life for it. Locke’s arc as he becomes a sort of antagonist, is realizing that he got the wrong message about faith, thinking there is something bigger than him guiding things and elevating him. On the other hand, Jack realizes that the “something bigger” is just the people around you that elevate you. Locke becomes a zealot for the Island, without knowing that in reality he’s just a pawn in a game played by two beings we don’t even know yet.
In the grand scheme of things, ‘Walkabout’ may seem like a smaller episode, but thematically and narratively, this episode encapsulates everything Lost would be known for in just under one hour. The flashbacks contributed to one of the show’s main themes of being able to redefine yourself to be exactly what you want to be, while the twist contributed to Locke’s “man of faith” narrative and also deepen the mythology of the Island, while the main story started building the community that would become the center of the show’s story. Even 15 years later, this is the most important episode of Lost, and the one that proved this show was unlike anything that had come before it.