|TRAINING DAYFRESH PRINCEMANIAC COPEL CAMINOSTAR WARS|
With two Critics' Choice nominations, the 18-year-old actor — currently co-starring on 'This Is Us' — reflects on his whirlwind year and the most surprising thing he's learned about awards season.
At he beginning of 2019, Asante Blackk was a 17-year-old high school student at North Point High School in Waldorf, Maryland, without a single TV or film credit to his name. Just one year later, he starts 2020 with two Critics' Choice Awards nominations following up an Emmy nomination in the fall for his performance as Central Park Five member Kevin Richardson in Netflix's When They See Us and as teenage father Malik in season four of the NBC hit This Is Us. Blackk is one of a mere three actors, alongside Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson, nominated for multiple projects at the Jan. 12 ceremony at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar. He recently spoke with THR about his whirlwind year, new opportunities and Training Day dreams.
How has it been to play a part in a movement that shows the Central Park Five in a new light with When They See Us?
It's been surreal — just the fact that people are rallying behind this miniseries the way that they have been. Even months after it came out, people are still recognizing me because of it and calling me "Kevin" in the street. It's mind-blowing but also one of the greatest privileges in my life.
Are you still in touch with the Exonerated Five?
Definitely. I talk to Kevin all the time. He's truly like an uncle to me. We keep in touch as much as we can because we don't just want to see each other at certain events, so we really try to keep that bond close-knit.
When They See Us was your first major project. What type of opportunities or auditions has that opened up for you since?
The way that my career is unfolding is not even one in a million, it's one in a bajillion. To be a part of this project that so many people were exposed to, now people are sending me scripts saying they want me to star in their stories — not even asking me to audition, just saying, "Hey, we want you to star in this." It's nuts. I would have never imagined that I'd be in this position so early in my career. I'm just trying to keep the ball rolling.
Any dream projects?
I do have a dream role. I'm not too fond of remakes, but I would make an exception if I was able to remake Training Day and play Denzel's role, that would be absolutely amazing. I'd love to dive deep into that character because he made it so iconic, so I want a shot at that.
On This Is Us, you play a teenage single father, something not often portrayed on TV.
You have to show these stories because these stories do exist in the real world. Somebody might have seen a single teenage father in the street and given them a glare or judged them, but after seeing This Is Us, they might have a little more empathy....
The actor also revealed why the latest 'Bad Boys' film took so long to make: 'I wasn't happy with the 'Men in Black' sequel and I just really wanted to make sure that this was a stand-alone film that people would have a real, brand new experience in.'
Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon performed a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air-inspired rap about the actor's career on Thursday's episode of The Tonight Show.
The track opened with Smith and Fallon rapping about Smith's life before he was cast on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. "Let's teach them all something about Will Smith," rapped the actor before mentioning his hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. He continued, "You can call him jazz/ You can call me dapper."
"I was rappin' just to make bus fare/ Then I moved in with my auntie and uncle in Bel-Air,” Smith rapped. Fallon added, "I don't gotta tell you that show was awesome / Every Monday night, before an all-new Blossom."
"Six whole years/ I lived with the Banks/ So if you can dance to Carlton/ I still give thanks," Smith rapped.
The track next recapped Smith's move from television to films. "But a real big star needs a real big screen/ So I had to spread my wings, if you know what I mean," the actor rapped. "Me and Martin/ A couple of Bad Boys/ Independence Day, aliens on my turf/ You invading us? Nah, 'Welcome to Earth!'"
Fallon took over to rap about Smith's marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith and referenced her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk.
Following a short dance break, Smith continued, "Started out a Prince, then became the Fresh Papi/ Cause Trey is the Ace, Jaden's a force/ Willow came and told ya 'whip your hair back and forth!'"
The actor next named a number of his films, including Hancock, Ali, Shark Tale, Hitch, The Pursuit of Happyness, Aladdin and Spies in Disguise.
"So whether G, Genie, matchmaker, fish or a bird," rapped Smith, while Fallon added, "You're a good man." Smith then concluded, "And bad boy for life."
Later in the episode, Smith opened up about why it took so long to make Bad Boys for Life.
"What we tried to do that was really critical and important for me is not try to just do the old movies again," he said of the follow-up to 1995's Bad Boys and 2003's Bad Boys II. "You had to take into consideration the time. You had to take into consideration how the characters would have grown, and the reason it took so long is because I didn't want to make it just as a cash grab."
"I had fumbled a couple of my last sequels," he continued. "I wasn't happy with the Men in Black sequel, and I just really wanted to make sure that this was a stand-alone film that people would have a real...
AMC has released a new Breaking Bad short film to coincide with the television premiere of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on the network. Called Snow Globe: A Breaking Bad Short, the video features Jesse Plemons as Todd Alquist and the voice of Laura Fraser as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. Running under three minutes long, the video touches on the relationship between the two and explains an El Camino Easter egg. Released on AMC's official YouTube account, you can watch the new short film in the video below.
In the short, Todd can be seen putting together a custom snow globe with hand-painted pieces. As he works, Todd calls up his associate Lydia, with whom he'd often met with at a diner on Breaking Bad. Clearly smitten with her, Todd briefly touches on their meth production before asking her on a date to see a symphony orchestra, but a hang-up from Lydia shows she's definitely not interested. We're then given a clear look at Todd putting the finishing touches on the snow globe, which includes tiny versions of Todd along with Lydia in her familiar blue dress and her trademark tea cup. It's certainly a bit creepy, even for Todd, though we've definitely seen the character do a lot worse.
Eagle-eyed fans will recognize this snow globe as an El Camino Easter egg. There's a scene in the Breaking Bad movie where Jesse Pinkman Aaron Paul sneaks into Todd's empty apartment, and among Todd's possessions is this exact snow globe. It's just one of multiple Easter eggs to be found in the movie, as another interesting one can also be found in Todd's apartment. A tarantula spotted in a glass enclosure appears to be a reference to the Breaking Bad episode 'Dead Freight,' where Todd murders a boy who'd been carrying a spider, perhaps this very one, in a glass jar at the time.For those yet to see it, El Camino serves as a direct sequel to Breaking Bad, literally picking up exactly where the hit AMC series left off. It follows Jesse's escape from the compound where he'd been forced to cook meth and his efforts to leave his troubled past behind him as he seeks a new life. It features many other notable returns of fan favorite characters from the series, including Matt Jones as Badger, Charles Baker as Skinny Pete, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, and the late Robert Forster as The Disappearer. Of course, Jesse Plemons plays a major role in the movie as well as Todd Alquist. Originally released on Netflix, El Camino just made its television debut on Sunday night.
The Breaking Bad universe will continue to expand when new episodes of the prequel series Better Call Saul premiere on AMC on Sunday, Feb. 23. Meanwhile, the first four seasons of the spin-off can now be streamed on Netflix along with the entirety of Breaking Bad and its sequel movie El Camino. The Snow Globe video shown above comes to us from AMC on YouTube.
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...