Josh Rottenberg

April 17, 2015 | 7:53 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Emperor Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid recalls ‘Return of the Jedi’

"Star Wars" actor Ian McDiarmid, pictured at Skywalker Ranch in San Rafael, Calif., on May 4, 2005. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
“And I thought you hated me,” actor Ian McDiarmid quipped as he took the stage to raucous applause for a Q&A at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention Thursday in Anaheim. Granted, McDiarmid played the most purely evil character in the entire “Star Wars” universe: Emperor Palpatine, the gravelly voiced Sith lord who corrupted Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker and turned him to the dark side of the Force. But at a love-fest like Celebration, all is forgiven, and fans were happy to hear the 70-year-old McDiarmid reminisce for an hour about his work on 1983’s “The Return of the Jedi” and the three prequels that later followed. The Scottish McDiarmid, who has spent the greater portion of his career acting on the stage, recounted the story of how he was first cast in the role more than 30 years ago. […]
April 17, 2015 | 4:30 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘The Force Awakens’ has fans feeling like kids again

Fans attend Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16n Anaheim, California.  (Jesse Grant / Getty Images for Disney)
Thousands of die-hard “Star Wars” fans — more than a few bearing lightsabers and clad in homemade costumes — came into the opening panel at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention in Anaheim with three big questions. Would J.J. Abrams, director of the highly anticipated “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens,” show a new trailer? Would Harrison Ford — still recovering from injuries sustained in a plane crash last month — make his first-ever appearance at a “Star Wars” convention? And would fresh plot details about the new film — not hitting theaters until Dec. 18, an excruciatingly long wait for the faithful — finally be unveiled? The answers were yes, no and, as Yoda might say, “Patience, young Skywalker.” In a presentation Thursday morning at the Anaheim Convention Center that was heavy on nostalgia for the much-loved nearly […]
April 16, 2015 | 4:00 a.m.

Fandom’s force awakens at Star Wars Celebration, and Disney knows it

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas poses with a group of "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters on Aug. 14, 2010 at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida. (Todd Anderson / Getty Images)
“Star Wars,” the space-opera franchise that revolutionized the movie business and spawned a sprawling multi-billion-dollar multimedia empire, is back with a renewed force. “Star Wars Episode VII,” the first new “Star Wars” film in a decade, won’t hit theaters until Dec. 18. But the countdown begins in earnest Thursday, when grown men in Stormtrooper costumes, suburban moms dressed as Princess Leia and kids done up as cuddly Ewoks will descend in droves on the Anaheim Convention Center for the Star Wars Celebration fan convention. It marks a pivotal moment for one of the most lucrative series in film history — and for Walt Disney Co., which paid $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” franchise from creator George Lucas in 2012. Star Wars Celebration: Trailer unveiled | Watch the live stream | Fans gather | Preview Disney is […]
Feb. 11, 2015 | 4:30 a.m.

Spider-Man: Sony deal could reshape Marvel’s cinematic universe

Spider-Man will appear with his Marvel comic book cohorts before beginning a new film franchise. (Niko Tavernise / Columbia Pictures)
Spider-Man first swung into the imaginations of comic book readers more than 50 years ago in the pages of “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15. The character soon became Marvel’s icon of the Silver Age, appearing not only in comics but also on television, video games and even migrating to Broadway. Now, he’s poised for new life on the big screen — and he’s under new management. Under a deal revealed Monday, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will have an opportunity to reframe the iconic character, bringing Spidey into Marvel’s blockbuster cinematic universe before the hero goes spinning back to anchor his own franchise for Sony Pictures, his movie home since 2002. Feige’s expanded involvement in Spider-Man’s movie future might be the best thing to happen to Peter Parker since Mary Jane Watson moved in next door. The architect of Marvel’s movie […]
July 28, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

Comic-Con 2014: Hollywood stirs fan fervor to the very end

avengers-duo
If Hollywood seemed a tad quieter than normal this past weekend, there was a good reason: Like moths to a porch light — or Batman to the Bat Signal — film and television creators, executives and stars were drawn en masse to downtown San Diego in an effort to drum up excitement for their upcoming wares at the annual Comic-Con International pop-culture expo. The unveiling of the first footage from the highly anticipated superhero mash-up “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and an extended early glimpse at “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” may have sent the biggest reverberations through the four-day film, television, video-game and comic-book fest. But there was plenty of other news to stir the excitement of the 130,000 or so convention-goers who descended upon the San Diego Convention Center, many decked out in costume, to watch exclusive […]
July 27, 2014 | 10:14 a.m.

‘Mad Max: Fury Road': George Miller on car crashes, Tom Hardy’s animal magnetism

Tom Hardy as Max in a scene from "Mad Max: Fury Road." 
(Jason Boland / Warner Bros)
In the 35 years since Australian director George Miller made his debut with a gritty, high-octane post-apocalyptic action film called “Mad Max,” his road has taken many a twist and turn. The shoestring-budgeted “Mad Max” launched its star, Mel Gibson, to worldwide fame and spawned two hit sequels — 1981’s “The Road Warrior” and 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” — and Miller went on to make such varied films as “The Witches of Eastwick,” “Lorenzo’s Oil,” “Babe: Pig in the City” and “Happy Feet.” Now, much to his surprise, Miller’s road has led him back to the “Mad Max” franchise, which he is rebooting with “Mad Max: Fury Road,” starring Tom Hardy — in the role Gibson originated — along with Charlize Theron. Hero Complex caught up with Miller just hours after footage from the film, which opens May 15, 2015, was greeted with raucous applause at Warner Bros.’ Comic-Con International panel. Hero […]
July 26, 2014 | 2:47 p.m.

Comic-Con: Peter Jackson takes a bow, George Miller shows off ‘Fury Road’

Benedict Cumberbatch, from left, Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom attend the Warner Bros. Pictures panel for "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" on Day 3 of Comic-Con International on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in San Diego. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Zack Snyder’s early peek at “Batman v. Superman” kicked off the Warner Bros. Comic-Con International panel with some serious fanboy firepower, but the studio still had three other highly anticipated films in store for the 6,500-odd fans gathered in Hall H: Andy and Lana Wachowski’s sci-fi epic “Jupiter Ascending,” George Miller’s post-apocalyptic action reboot “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and the final installment in Peter Jackson’s blockbuster “Hobbit” trilogy, subtitled “The Battle of Five Armies.” Neither the Wachowskis nor “Jupiter Ascending” co-star Mila Kunis were on hand at the panel, so it fell to Channing Tatum to introduce footage from the space opera, in which he plays a genetically engineered warrior who comes to Earth to reveal to Kunis’ Jupiter Jones that she is interstellar royalty. “We really try to do something different, something you’ve never seen before,” Tatum told the crowd, calling the Wachowskis “absolutely out of their […]
July 26, 2014 | 1:36 p.m.

Comic-Con 2014: Wonder Woman costume, ‘Batman v. Superman’ teaser revealed

Wonder Woman
Usually when a studio has a surprise to unveil at their Comic-Con panel, they save it for the end to keep people guessing. But Warner Bros. tossed out that playbook for the packed crowd at its Hall H presentation and pulled out the big guns right off the bat, so to speak, offering fans an early, albeit brief, look at its much-anticipated superhero mash-up “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” From the moment the presentation began, it was clear that something major was afoot, as curtains pulled back to reveal jumbo-sized screens wrapping around the front of Hall H. As concept art from “Batman v. Superman” began flashing on the screens, fans, not surprisingly, erupted. Then moderator Chris Hardwick brought the film’s director, Zack Snyder, to the stage. With the film still early in its production, it’s anyone’s guess how much has actually been […]
July 25, 2014 | 8:09 p.m.

Comic-Con 2014: Fox panel features ‘Maze Runner’ spoiler, Biz Markie

James Dashner and from left, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario and Dylan O'Brien attend 20th Century Fox's panel for "The Maze Runner" on Day 2 of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 25, 2014, in San Diego. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Six thousand-odd Comic-Con International attendees came into 20th Century Fox’s Hall H panel wondering if there would be any big surprises of the sort Paramount offered yesterday with the appearance of Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey. A very early look at “X-Men: Apocalypse”? A tease of the new “Fantastic Four”? Well, the answers to those questions were no and no. But, as it happened, there were a couple of didn’t-see-that-coming moments, including at least one that may not have been entirely welcome. Toward the end of the presentation for the upcoming dystopian thriller “The Maze Runner,” which is adapted from a bestselling YA novel, the film’s star, Dylan O’Brien, was asked by an audience member about the most difficult scene he had to film. O’Brien thought for a moment and then answered that it was the death of a major character — who he named. Comic-Con 2014: Full coverage […]
July 25, 2014 | 8:04 p.m.

Comic-Con 2014: Daniel Radcliffe makes his Hall H debut with ‘Horns’

Director Alexandre Aja, actor Daniel Radcliffe and writer Joe Hill attend Comic-Con International 2014 at San Diego Convention Center on July 25, 2014 in San Diego, Calif. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Grab almost any Comic-Con International attendee and ask for his or her top pop-culture obsessions and the “Harry Potter” franchise is likely to rank near the top. Yet, surprisingly, the star of the “Potter” films, Daniel Radcliffe, never actually attended the convention until this year. Radcliffe’s inaugural Comic-Con appearance — which served to promote his upcoming horror dramedy “Horns,” which opens Oct. 31— kicked off with a mass Hall H rendition of “Happy Birthday” for the actor, who turned 25 on Wednesday. (How old does that make you feel?) “Horns,” which is adapted by director Alexandre Aja from a novel by Joe Hill (both of whom were also on hand), recounts the dark tale of a man named Ig (Radcliffe) who is falsely accused of killing his girlfriend and starts to grow a set of horns that seem to have a mysterious disinhibiting effect on those around him. Comic-Con 2014: Full […]
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