Nicole Sperling

Nov. 01, 2013 | 9:43 a.m.

‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’: Francis Lawrence adapts to Panem life

The color wasn’t finished. The visual effects were not complete. The score, temporary. Yet those details seemed to be of little consequence to director Francis Lawrence, who chose a fine summer day to open up his edit bay and show off his work in progress, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” While other filmmakers might be stressed over the work to be done on such an eagerly awaited film — let alone the inherent pressure of taking over a beloved franchise — the 42-year-old Austrian director gleefully cued up scene after scene of heroine Katniss Everdeen facing the repercussions of having manipulated a government-sanctioned death match in the first film. Dressed casually in a blue button-down shirt, jeans and sneakers, Lawrence is relaxed, even a little excited by the footage — a fanboy given the keys to the kingdom. “I really […]
Oct. 11, 2013 | 12:56 p.m.

‘March’: Congressman reaches out to youth with civil rights comic

Congressman John Lewis’ wrists were restrained behind his back and he was escorted into a police car Tuesday, having been arrested during an immigration rally on Capitol Hill. (He was later released without charges after paying a $50 fine.) It was Lewis’ fifth arrest since he took office as a Democratic representative from Georgia in 1987 — twice at the South African Embassy protesting apartheid and twice in front of the Sudanese Embassy protesting genocide in Darfur. Yet none of it is unfamiliar to Lewis, one of the last living leaders of the civil rights era, who was arrested more than 40 times during the historical period. His first arrest was in Nashville on Feb. 27, 1960. He was arrested as part of sit-ins protesting segregation at a Woolworth’s lunch counter, an experience Lewis described as transformative in his new […]
July 25, 2013 | 4:00 a.m.

‘Divergent’ star Shailene Woodley on Comic-Con, ‘Spider-Man,’ napping

Shailene Woodley needs a nap. It’s Friday morning in San Diego and the 21-year-old is slowly recovering from the previous day of Comic-Con International festivities where she and her cast mates presented the first footage of “Divergent” to screaming fans, danced to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” at an after party, and in between participated in a slew of press events. The madness came only 36 hours after director Neil Burger called it a wrap on the Chicago set of the film, which the studio will open next March as a hopeful new hit franchise for the young-adult audience. But Woodley can’t rest yet. She’s leaving for a bicoastal press tour to promote her upcoming indie “The Spectacular Now,” which opens on Aug. 2 and will soon begin work on adaptation of John Green’s bestselling novel “The Fault in Our Stars.” […]
July 20, 2013 | 4:16 p.m.

Comic-Con: ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ star Jennifer Lawrence shines

A cast of six actors took the stage to talk about “The Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire” at Hall H Saturday, including rock star Lenny Kravitz, but it was Jennifer Lawrence that the 6,500 fans were most excited to see. The newly anointed Oscar winner who plays heroine Katniss Everdeen was her usual mixture of honesty and self-deprecating humor as she and her cast mates debuted the “Catching Fire” trailer for the first time to raucous applause. The young adult adaptation followed a sneak peak of Stuart Beattie’s new film “I, Frankenstein,” which stars Aaron Eckhart as a modernized version of the monster originally created by author Mary Shelley. Eckhart took the stage with co-star Yvonne Strahovski (who plays an electro-physicist), Beattie and graphic novelist Kevin Grevioux. FULL COVERAGE: San Diego Comic-Con 2013 “This is the next chapter of Mary […]
July 20, 2013 | 9:08 a.m.

Comic-Con 2013: ‘Superman & Batman’ movie will follow ‘Man of Steel’

Warner Bros. is about to bring together two of its most iconic heroes: Superman and Batman will unite in a new film, the follow-up to “Man of Steel,” set for release in 2015. According to two sources with knowledge of the movie, Warner Bros. intends to announce the news at its Comic-Con International panel Saturday morning. Said a Warner Bros. spokesperson, “We don’t comment on rumors regarding these properties.” “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder is expected to reunite with screenwriter David S. Goyer and star Henry Cavill for the new film. It’s unlikely Christian Bale will step back into the bat suit, as the actor has indicated publicly that he has moved on from his days as Bruce Wayne. “Man of Steel” producer and “Dark Knight” trilogy director Christopher Nolan is expected by some to produce the project, but […]
July 19, 2013 | 8:32 p.m.

Comic-Con: ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ star Andrew Garfield shines

Like Spider-Man himself, Sony Pictures feels great responsibility when it comes to its most precious franchise. The music pounded, the lights dimmed and three massive curtains at the front of the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H pulled back to reveal the screens that would debut new footage for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which just finished filming in New York three weeks ago. Fans went nuts for the scenes, some still in storyboard form, that explored Peter Parker’s newfound joy with being Spider-Man and his complex relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) while also revealing some of villain Electro’s (played by Jamie Foxx) origin story. The movie won’t open until May 2, 2014. But as he did two years ago in Hall H, it was Andrew Garfield who stole the show. His stunning mix of humility, honesty and that old-fashioned […]
July 19, 2013 | 4:23 p.m.

Comic-Con 2013: ‘Kick-Ass 2’ and ‘Riddick’ panel packed with action

The most striking thing about Friday’s panel on “Kick-Ass 2” was what wasn’t mentioned — specifically Jim Carrey’s decision after the Sandy Hook massacre to not support the R-rated comic-book action movie in which he plays Col. Stars and Stripes, a masked crime-fighting vigilante. Though there were cheers from the audience when Carrey’s movie showed up in the trailer, moderator Drew McWeeny never asked comic book creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. about the issue, nor did he take any questions from fans — who would have been likely to bring up the issue in similar fashion to Thursday’s “Ender’s Game” panel when the first question to the filmmakers was about controversial novelist Orson Scott Card’s involvement with that movie. Rather, the “Kick-Ass 2” panelists discussed the sequel, which tracks a self-made high school superhero who joins up with […]
July 18, 2013 | 7:26 p.m.

Comic-Con: ‘Ender’s Game’ producer says movie is about tolerance

Addressing the controversy that has erupted over the upcoming film “Ender’s Game,” producer Bob Orci used the Hall H stage at Comic-Con International to offer his impassioned support of LGBT rights. He said the movie does not represent the anti-gay views that have been expressed by author Orson Scott Card, on whose novel the 1985 project is based. “I would hate to see the efforts of all the people who made this movie thwarted for the less than 1% of the people behind the movie, particularly because the message of the book and the movie is tolerance, compassion and empathy,” Orci said. “Ender’s Game” shared the Hall H spotlight with the anticipated film “Divergent,” a dystopian adventure set in postapocalyptic Chicago and starring Shailene Woodley. Not all of the discussion centered on Card. Harrison Ford, who plays Col. Graff in […]
July 12, 2013 | 5:20 a.m.

‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Divergent’: The new wave of strong female-led sci-fi

Katniss Everdeen never intended to become an icon for a struggling people. Yet the scrappy, resourceful heroine at the heart of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling “The Hunger Games” trilogy, with her signature braid, incomparable archery skills and defiant spirit, became a rare sort of pop-culture touch point precisely because she came to be embraced by a sometimes lost, sometimes achingly restless tribe: adolescents. But the wily teen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who trades places with her sister only to emerge as the unlikely victor in a battle to the death, didn’t only inspire Collins’ readers and the filmgoers who turned up for Gary Ross’ 2012 movie adaptation of “The Hunger Games” to the tune of $408 million. Her success has also helped fuel a continuing, voracious appetite in Hollywood for sci-fi inflected tales featuring young women in empowered roles. “I’m a […]
June 15, 2013 | 6:55 a.m.

‘Man of Steel’ star Henry Cavill knows how Clark Kent feels

It’s a strain to be Superman, even for someone with as sizable shoulders as British actor Henry Cavill. The stress of carrying the world and “Man of Steel,” the $225-million Warner Bros. reboot of the Superman franchise, is showing on Cavill’s sculpted face. He’s built up a steely reserve as the scrutiny of his public and private life becomes more intense. And it comes after mining his own awkward adolescence to play a character steeped in loneliness and confusion. The 30-year-old Cavill grew up on the small English Channel island of Jersey. The fourth of five brothers, he yearned to escape the “shackles of parenting” and followed his third eldest brother to boarding school in England. Yet a profound homesickness plagued the then-13-year-old — so much so that he found himself blubbering to his mother on the phone daily. “It […]
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