EVENING STANDARD – Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell will star in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for a new production opening at the Apollo Theatre this July.
Directed by Benedict Andrews, it will be produced by the Young Vic, making it the theatre’s first production to debut in the West End. They have previously transferred a number of their shows to the West End, including The Scottsboro Boys and A View From A Bridge.
Miller, who has had a number of screen roles including The Edge of Love and Alfie, has appeared on stage a number of times already. She starred in Flare Path at the Royal Haymarket in 2011 as part of Terence Rattigan’s centenary celebrations, and has appeared in After Miss Julie on Broadway.
O’Connell, who was directed by Angelina Jolie in the film Unbroken and is known for starring in Skins, last appeared on stage last year for The Nap at Sheffield Crucible.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs at the Apollo Theatre from July 13 to October 7
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Andrew Haigh is set to direct the film about the late fashion icon, with principal photography to begin in January.
The hotly anticipated Alexander McQueen biopic has found its leading man.
Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, ’71) has been cast as the late fashion designer in the untitled film to be directed by Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years) with Pathe producing.
The script is written by Chris Urch, the award-winning playwright of The Rolling Stone and Land of Our Fathers, and based on the biography Blood Beneath the Skin by Andrew Wilson. The film will explore the creative process of McQueen — who passed away in 2010 — in the months leading up to one of his greatest shows in 2009, providing an intimate portrait of the man behind the global brand.
Damian Jones (The Iron Lady, Belle, Lady in the Van) is producing, with principal photography set to start in January for delivery at the end of 2017.
Pathe will distribute the film in the U.K., France and Switzerland and will handle sales throughout the rest of the world, introducing the film to buyers at this year’s AFM.
Haigh, who saw 45 Years pick up awards in Berlin in 2015 and earn an Oscar nomination for Charlotte Rampling this year, recently wrapped Lean on Pete and is teaming with See-Saw Films and the BBC on a new drama series.
YOU get the impression that Jack O’Connell is pretty easy going from the moment you meet him. There’s no pretence, plus addressing someone by their first name before you’ve even met is always going to win brownie points. The Jack you see is the Jack you get. He’s relaxed and all-inviting handshakes, big grins and quick to banter, at ease even after a gruelling press trip that comes with the territory of taking a lead in blockbuster movies.
Money Monster, which is in cinemas now, was shot in New York and called for the streets of the city to be shut down. “For me, it epitomised the typical American film-making experience in the middle of downtown New York,” O’Connell confesses, not a sight of a transatlantic lilt in his Derby accent. While he isn’t willing to name names, shooting Money Monster was a different experience from those he has had in the past, and not just down to the sheer scale of the project.
“Shooting this was very fulfilling. I’ve been on sets before where you’re thinking this is bullshit, this hurts, people are getting treated horribly, and no one has got any money for the budget so no one can make you comfortable. If you do enough of that you stop expecting to feel comfortable when you’re at work. I’m very thankful for all those lessons, but when I was finally on this multi-million-dollar set in the middle of New York I could feel a real sense of gratitude.”
Another thing that you notice is that O’Connell is a genuine optimist and a thinker too, although not in the sense that he’s watching his words. On his first day on set, was he intimidated by acting alongside household names? “No more than anyone starting a new job amidst very esteemed colleagues.” Instead the 25-year-old focused on the opportunity presented. “You’re offered a level of confirmation that people are going to see your movie and this can make you feel very confident, which I chose to dwell on more.”
It wasn’t just his on-screen peers that may have been intimidating. Sat in the director’s chair was Jodie Foster, herself an Academy Award-winning actress with 50 years in the industry to her name who has done nothing but sung praises about her experiences working with O’Connell, telling Vogue: “He works so hard and he brings so much to the equation.” The film marks the second time that he has worked with an actress-turned-director. The first, Angelina Jolie, cast him in Unbroken, in which he portrayed Olympian and prisoner-of-war survivor, Louis Zamperini. He notes the film as his proudest professional moment. Describing Zamperini as a “hero” and a tale so epic that, “if you wrote it, people would chastise it.”
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – 327 short docs are set to be screened at the fest.
The lineup has been unveiled for the 22nd annual Palm Springs International ShortFest.
Films will span topics from Alzheimer’s to climate change and will include the acting and voice talents of such stars as Kristen Wiig, Zosia Mamet, Steve Buscemi and James Franco.
Jack O’Connell will star in the short Home, Richard Kind will appear in director Jake Honig’s Black Swell and Saturday Night Live player Beck Bennett will be seen in the short comedy How to Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps, which also features a cameo from Conan O’Brien.
Over the course of the fest’s 22 years, 101 films that screened have gone on to receive Oscar nominations. At this year’s event, 327 films will be screened, which will include 46 world premieres among the entries from across the globe.
“We are showing more documentaries, more experimental films and more of the hard to categorize, hybrid films which play with film form in exciting ways,” programming director Penelope Bartlett said Thursday in a statement. “We cast the net far and wide to ensure we had more films from less represented regions, like Africa and the Middle East, and films by indigenous filmmakers and filmmakers of color.”
The event is set to run June 21-27 at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs.
The full ShortFest lineup can be found here.
ENTERTAINMENT FOCUS – Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger have teamed up to create a powerful short-film titled Home.
Shot in three countries, the film supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, will screen in selected cinemas nationwide from Monday 20th June.
As thousands of men, women and children attempt to get into Europe, Home follows a comfortable English family who experience a life-changing journey of their own.
The ambition of the 20-minute film is to address the current refugee crisis and help drive global awareness to support UNHCR’s World Refugee Day on Monday 20th June.
Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger get behind the refugee crisis along with the support of artists including Coldplay, Dizzee Rascal and Wiley who all donated music for the soundtrack too.
Written and directed by BAFTA-winning director, Daniel Mulloy, Home aims to remind the viewer that refugees are just like you or I – fathers, mothers, sons and daughters – for whom the meaning of the word “home” has undergone a traumatic re-evaluation.
Welcoming the UK launch of Home Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UK Representative for UNHCR, said: “UNHCR is delighted to support HOME. The film is a powerful reminder of the importance of a place to call home, which, when people are forced to flee, can be lost in an instant. At a time of unprecedented forced displacement around the world, HOME is a powerful reminder that becoming a refugee can happen to any one of us.”
Daniel Mulloy, the Director of Home, says: “We want to address the disconnect with refugees and do something to rip down the sense of them and us.”
Actress Arta Dobroshi, Executive Producer of Home says: “When I was living in a war zone, and then became a refugee, I used to think that if countries in freedom would feel what we are feeling at this moment. If they would see us as their families, just for one minute, they would help. And this is exactly what Home does, it puts you in the shoes of refugees.”
The project is further supported by leading augmented reality and visual discovery app Blippar. For the first time ever on World Refugee Day, 20th June, users can show their support of refugees in crisis by”blipping”(scanning) their hand through the Blippar app. This allows them to show support by signing the petition, watching the film and spreading the unique hashtag which will be announced on 9th June 2016.
Home was funded and produced by Black Sheep Studios, Somesuch and Dokufest, with donations from Open Society Foundation-London, United Agencies in Kosovo, USAID and the films cast and crew among many others.
FLAUNT – Jack O’Connell pauses, rakes his knuckles across his knees, and shouts, with a northern English kind of muscularity, “Ooff.”
I’ve just asked him to describe his perfect night out—his version of a truly good time. The 25-year- old is sitting with me today to talk about the future. He doesn’t want to trip down the path Hollywood continually prods him along; to play the scar-faced bullyboy for the rest of his life. Had I asked him this question back when he was auditioning for parts at the Royal Court, in the thick of a year-long Young Offender’s Referral Order as a late teen, I suspect his answer would have been brief: “To stay out of jail.”
Instead, he talks about wide horizons. Good music, a decent crowd, a stunning backdrop. Oh, and nice quality beverages. “Not just tinnies.”
O’Connell—who stars this spring in Jodie Foster’s reality TV thriller, Money Monster—grew up in rural Derby. You can trace the trouble he got into there along the ridge of his forehead, where flesh is divided by thick, ruler-straight stress marks. It’s a toughness that has brought him film roles and fashion gigs; from a starring part in David Mackenzie’s drama Starred Up (2013)—where he plays a savagely hotheaded prisoner—to a Prada shoot with Craig McDean—where he appears in a taut, noisily patterned turtleneck, swizzling a gin tumbler. Shane Meadows spotted his leatheriness early on, casting him as bovver-booted gang protégé in 2006’s brilliant, bleak, fascism tome, This Is England.
There was always a strange sadness to O’Connell’s violence, though. In an early days This Is England audition tape, he raps as part of a three-piece hip-hop group, a knock-off designer tee jangling around his knees. “I’m a tough little cunt and I’ve got no hair,” he spits, almost melancholically. “I’ll put you down and I don’t care.” Then there was ITV’s cop soap The Bill, in which he depicts sexually abused 13-year-old Ross Trescot, who rapes a middle aged policewoman. For the largest part of O’Connell’s decade-long career, he’s played characters that are bad because bad things have happened to them: in turn, his performances are both brutal and beckoning.
EVENING STANDARD – A bright, crisp, spring afternoon in Mayfair and Jack O’Connell — dressed almost entirely in Dior, his scuffed blue suede Adidas the only nod to his pre-fame life — is sitting on a velvet sofa in one of the best suites at the Dorchester, reflecting on the downsides of stardom.
‘My whole life’s different,’ he says in his thick Derby accent. ‘I can’t live the life I grew up living. I used to enjoy going to the football, being around ordinary folk, or so-called ordinary folk, and family get-togethers. Now even they’re difficult. If I go to certain dos every f***er in there’s gonna want a photo.’ Then there’s the small matter of his (perfectly passable) ‘English’ teeth: ‘Whenever I go to LA, people tell me I should get my teeth done. Unless they want theirs f***ing rearranging as well I suggest they keep their mouth shut. My teeth are my teeth and I’ll be f***ed if I’m ever going to do a job on them just to serve their purposes. Well f*** ’em anyway.’ He gives a blast of infectious laughter. ‘I’m not Hollywood. There’s not a bit of me that ever wants to consider myself “Hollywood”.’
It’s hard not to think he may have to acclimatise. Just 25, O’Connell has stacked up an impressive collection of roles, including outstanding performances in Starred Up as a violent prisoner, and a turn as a British soldier lost in a riot in Belfast in ’71. This summer he’s set to go stratospheric: in July he stars alongside rumoured ex- girlfriend Cara Delevingne (more of whom later) in Tulip Fever and plays a Czech soldier in HHhH with Rosamund Pike and Mia Wasikowska. Before that, you can catch him in the Jodie Foster-directed thriller Money Monster, out today, in which he stars alongside bona fide Hollywood royalty Julia Roberts (‘a dream to work with’) and George Clooney (‘piss funny’).
Not to mention his relationship with Angelina Jolie, who cast him as the lead in her 2014 Second World War biopic Unbroken and has become a kind of mentor. Days before we met she flew to Sheffield by helicopter to see O’Connell in The Nap, the play he was starring in at the Crucible Theatre. ‘She just came up with a friend. Proper.’ She’s even met his family — after casting him in Unbroken, she took ten of his closest friends and family members out for a pub supper, which must have been a little surreal. ‘She wanted to meet my people,’ says O’Connell. ‘We all went to this place out of the way in Derbyshire, a pub where you can eat nice food. She came up on her own, man. She had some security people but they weren’t really involved and, yeah, we were all just sat around.’ Jolie, meanwhile, has said she’s ‘in awe’ of him and hailed his talent as ‘a gift’.
STANDARD.CO.UK – Jack O’Connell has gone from Skins to co-starring with heavyweights Julia Roberts and George Clooney in a dizzying rise to fame but the actor has vowed never to go “Hollywood”.
The 25-year-old says his former “ordinary” life is at complete odds with being recognised everywhere since landing lead roles in ’71 and Unbroken — when he gained a mentor in Angelina Jolie.
But despite his A-list status — set to be cemented with the release of his latest movie Money Monster on Friday — O’Connell says he refuses to succumb to pressure to “fix” his “English teeth” or strive for Hollywood perfection.
He told ES magazine: “Whenever I go to LA, people tell me I should get my teeth done. Unless they want theirs f****** rearranging as well I suggest they keep their mouth shut.
“My teeth are my teeth and I’ll be f***** if I’m ever going to do a job on them just to serve their purposes. I’m not Hollywood. There’s not a bit of me that ever wants to consider myself ‘Hollywood’.”
In Money Monster, O’Connell is a disgruntled investor who takes a financial adviser, played by Clooney, hostage. He will also be seen in historical drama Tulip Fever with Cara Delevingne and Alicia Vikander and as a Czech soldier in HHhH with Rosamund Pike and Mia Wasikowska. The Derby-born actor, who counts Jolie and Brad Pitt as friends, said: “I can’t live the life I grew up living.
“I used to enjoy going to the football, being around ordinary folk, or so-called ordinary folk, family get-togethers. Now even they’re difficult. If I go to certain dos every f***** in there’s gonna want a photo.”
He has been threatened by jealous relatives: “People assume I’m wealthy beyond belief. I ain’t. I need to work for a living. I have family members come out with claims, trying to threaten they’re going to the newspapers about me.”
He has been romantically linked to former Skins co-star Kaya Scodelario, Tulisa Contostavlos and Delevingne — who posted an Instagram picture of his neck covered in love bites with the comment #fittybum — but is currently single.
He said his fame usually helps with women, but added: “It depends on what I’m after. If it’s a bit more lingering than one night, then maybe not.”
YAHOO – Rising British star Jack O’Connell has been on a roll lately, landing lead roles in high-profile dramas directed by Angelina Jolie (Unbroken) and Jodie Foster (Money Monster).
He didn’t have as much luck going out for the role of a young Han Solo in Disney/Lucasfilm’s upcoming Star Wars anthology story, and he expressed some clear discontent about the experience yesterday while promoting Money Monster in Los Angeles.
“I love the process of auditioning, even the rejections,” O’Connell, 25, told Yahoo Movies a couple hours before it was announced that Hail, Caesar! breakout Alden Ehrenreich had been cast to play the iconic antihero. “It will refine you and make you stronger as an actor. Or sometimes it can be so tediously frustrating that it exhausts you as an actor. I think that applied throughout this process.
“It didn’t go my way. I wish them all the best of luck. But I don’t know necessarily agree with the reasons given.”
It was first reported in January that there were about a dozen young actors in the running for the highly sought-after gig, with the shortlist including names like Miles Teller, Dave Franco, Taron Egerton, Ansel Elgort, Jack Reynor, and Logan Lerman. In March that list was reportedly whittled to three — Reynor, Egerton, and Ehrenreich, though Variety reporter Justin Kroll tweeted that O’Connell and Blake Jenner were also still in contention to land the lead in the 2018 film, about the early days of the scoundrel made famous by Harrison Ford in 1977’s Star Wars and helmed by 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miler.
O’Connell confirmed to us that he auditioned — once — and that was part of the problem in his eyes. “The most frustrating thing is when you feel like your full potential hasn’t been recognized,” he said. “Or, the imagination required for your potential to be recognized, isn’t necessarily there. And it’s very hard to convey all these things in one audition. But that’s the process, and I don’t think one individual will change that.”
It was only one audition, but the experience was nonetheless grueling, O’Connell explained. “That process kind of contributes to the overall exhaustion that you have to face as an actor. It’s part and parcel of the job, and the roles that are worth getting are the ones that you’ve got to fight for. As the way I see it, it’s only so often that you’re given a role that you’ve always wanted to play.”
As O’Connell admitted even before the Ehrenreich news was announced, “That ship sailed.” But the actor probably won’t have to worry about too much more disappointment along the way. After two highly acclaimed performances in the war films ‘71 and Unbroken, O’Connell will undoubtedly earn more praise and attention for his role in Money Monster. The Brit nails the outer-boroughs New York accent as Kyle Budwell, a blue-collar man who takes a financial talk show host (George Clooney) hostage after a bad stock tip decimates his life savings. And in a raw and intense performance, he pretty much steals the movie from not his Oscar-winning co-stars Clooney and Julia Roberts.
Money Monster opens May 13. Look for our full Q&A with Jack O’Connell next week.
LOS ANGELES TIMES – There aren’t many young actors who wouldn’t be intimidated by costarring in a film with George Clooney and Julia Roberts and directed by Jodie Foster.
Except maybe for one who’s just finished working with Angelina Jolie.
When Jack O’Connell put himself on tape for Foster’s financial thriller “Money Monster,” he’d recently completed filming Jolie’s WWII movie “Unbroken.” The British actor was the lead in the 2014 film about Louis Zamperini, an Olympian who was captured as a prisoner of war. And after the movie came out, O’Connell found himself bombarded by questions about Jolie.
“The one I can’t really hack is, ‘What’s it like to be with said famous person?’ because I’m not sure what that is as a question. It’s not very specific,” the actor recalled by phone from London. “But that movie did help me promote myself in the States with work that I’m genuinely proud of.”
His pedigree impressed Foster, who said she auditioned hundreds of twentysomethings to act alongside Clooney and Roberts. She was looking to fill the part of Kyle Budwell, a blue-collar worker who takes financial advice from a popular television personality named Lee Gates (Clooney). When one of the TV host’s stock picks turns out to be a bust, Kyle loses $60,000 and, in a rage, he turns up on Gates’ set with a gun to take the production hostage.
“At first, I was concerned Jack might be too young,” Foster said of the actor, now 25. “But he has a face that’s lived and this amazing combination of someone who can be threatening and primitive but is also really lovable.”
“Money Monster” — which will debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month before it hits theaters on May 13 — marks the first film O’Connell has made in the United States. To prepare himself for the role, he spent time in Brooklyn, hanging out with firemen, riding on their truck and listening to their strong accents. He spent less time researching the stock market, which he said he has never dabbled in on his personal time.
“This was a guy who was promised some version of an American dream and the pot of gold, and he doesn’t get that,” said O’Connell. “There were certain crew members, including Jodie, who were rooting for Kyle and believed in his situation. That helped me to understand his reasoning.”
On set, Foster said, Clooney took O’Connell “under his wing.” “I don’t think Jack is impressed particularly by movie stars,” the filmmaker noted. “But George has a lot to impart to somebody like him, and Jack was open to listening.”
So what advice did Clooney offer to his young costar? O’Connell wouldn’t reveal any secret nuggets of wisdom but said he took the most away from learning that the 54-year-old still wrestles with insecurities at work.
“When you see an actor like George Clooney making the same mistakes that you do and asking the same questions you might ask,” said O’Connell, “it’s very reassuring to know that you don’t stand out as being difficult.”