Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Amber Heard
   Where does Johnny Depp go from here?
   The allegations of domestic abuse from his estranged wife Amber Heard have raised further questions about his career and reputation.
   Already dogged by a series of movie flops---his latest movie, the just-released Alice Through the Looking Glass is also tanking at the box-office--he is now the subject of a restraining order requiring him to stay 100 yards away from Amber Heard who claims in a sworn declaration that "he has been verbally and physically abusive to her" throughout their relationship. She said he "has a long-held and widely acknowledged public and private history of drug and alcohol abuse" and he was high and drunk when they got into a fight on May 21 and he threw a cellphone at her, hitting her in the cheek and eye.

with Depp a couple of years ago
   Plenty of celebrities have endured scandal with little evidence that it has hurt their careers but Depp is in a different category because much of his success has been in movies aimed at families. He has been immortalised as a Disneyland Audio-Animatronic figure for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, and the next installment of the long-running saga, Dead Men Tell No Tales, is set to come out next year.
  Last year Forbes magazine named him the top "overpaid" actor in Hollywood following a string of flops which have included Mordecai, The Lone Ranger, Tusk and Transcendence.
  Mark Young, professor at the USC Marshall School of Business tells Variety that Depp "is beloved by many. Thus a lot of this depends on public perception of Amber Heard and her credibility."
  He says, "Given that the public has strong affection for him, I don't think his career will suffer in the long run."

Thursday, May 26, 2016


    Stan Lee is unquestionably the King of the Comics. He created the iconic superheroes Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, X-Men and the Fantastic Four among literally hundreds of others for Marvel Comics.
    Nearly all of them have become the central characters in movies and there are more on the way. 
   "They haven't done Dr. Strange as a movie yet although they are working on him and they haven't done The Inhumans but when they do it's going to be incredible. Wait until you see it," says the 93-year-old writer-publisher-movie producer when we talk in a West Hollywood office. "They're doing the Black Panther and I think they have done all the others so I'd better come up with some new ones otherwise I won't have anything to talk about."
    And that's exactly what he is doing. New superhero movies he has in the works include The Annihilator, The Realm of the Tiger and a movie about the Greek Gods which he says he cannot yet talk about. 
    With his trademark tinted glasses, a rollicking sense of humour and a fund of stories, Stan Lee has a personality as colourful as his characters. Anyone paying close attention can catch him in a cameo role in all his movies.
     "When I created these characters for Marvel I never in a million years thought they would become the movies that they have," he says. "The only thing on my mind--and the minds of the other artists and writers---was that we hoped the books would sell well enough so that we would keep our jobs and be able to pay the rent."
  He doesn't have a favourite among the movies although he says: "I think Iron Man really caught it. They were lucky to have Robert Downey Jr. play the role. I think the first Spiderman was very good. I don't even remember all of them--there are so many now."
   What he does remember, however, is the reaction from his publisher when he first came up with the idea of Spiderman.     
     "When you do a superhero the first thing you have to think about is what is his super power? So I saw a fly crawling on the wall and I said, 'Boy, wouldn’t it be cool to have a hero who could stick to walls?' So then I needed a name.I thought Fly Man? No.Insect Man? Nah. Mosquito Man? And then I thought of Spiderman, and it sounded dramatic.
  " And then I thought I would make him a teenager, because there were no teenage superheroes, so that would make him different. And finally, I thought I would give him a lot of personal problems, because again, the other superheroes I knew didn’t have personal problems. I got so excited, I ran into my publisher and told him and he said, 'Stan, that is the worst idea that I have ever heard.
    "'First of all, people hate spiders; you can’t make him a teenager, because teenagers can only be sidekicks; and superheroes don’t have personal problems, that’s why they are superheroes!'
  But a comic called Amazing Fantasy was about to be killed off so, because nobody cared about it, Stan put Spiderman on the cover. 
  "A month later the sales figures came in and my publisher came running over to me and said, 'Stan, do you remember that Spiderman character of yours that we both liked so much? Let’s do it as a series.'".
  Here's hoping that Stan is around for many more years to keep inventing new superheroes. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016


  The bumps and bruises suffered by the macho male stars during the filming of X-Men Apocalypse are the fault of their co-star Jennifer Lawrence.
  Jennifer, who is usually up for a laugh and a bit of mischief, introduced them to a "punching game."

  But, she insists, she is not responsible for the way the game escalated into brutality.

    The 25-year-old actress initially conceived the game, which has complicated rules but basically involves people punching each other after making a circle with their thumb and forefinger, on the set of the Hunger Games movies in which she starred.

  "I technically brought the game from Hunger Games to X-Men but I am not the one who decided to brutalise everyone on the set," she told me with a laugh.

  "On the Hunger Games we punched each other but no one was trying to permanently, seriously harm someone."

   It was a different matter when her X-Men co-stars, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Oscar Isaacs decided to play.   

   "They punched each other as hard as they possibly could," recalls Lawrence when we talked in a suite at Claridge's Hotel in London. "I mean, James's arm was so black it looked like he had a flesh-eating virus. And James smacked Simon Kinberg (the writer/producer) so hard in the face that his contact lens popped out.

  "So yes, I brought the game but I didn't bring the psychosis that followed. There is a lot of testosterone in these movies and I will not take responsibility for that."

   Jennifer Lawrence has come to the end  of her three-movie contract with X-Men and, after the three-movie Hunger Games franchise she is moving on to other, more varied projects. She has the science-fiction adventure Passengers awaiting release and is currently rehearsing in a warehouse with Javier Bardem and Michelle Pfeiffer for an as-yet-untitled and highly secretive project from writer-director Darren Aronofsky.  

   She plans to try her hand at directing with a movie called Project Delirium and is writing a movie with her good friend, the comedienne Amy Schumer, who says of her: "She's the funniest, smartest person you could meet. It's crazy that she's so young."

  Unlike most young actresses in health-and-youth-obsessed Hollywood Jennifer is not bothered by the thought of aging.  "Aging for women is a much bigger deal than aging for a man. It's not really fair but it's life," she says with a philosophical shrug. "I can't change my gender and I can't stop crows' feet so I'm just going to move on and decay like everyone else. 

  "If you are worried about wanting to look younger when you're not, you're not going to be a very happy person. You just have to find other things to make you happy that are much more important."


  It's always a pleasure seeing Nicole Kidman, whom I first met 21 years ago on Batman Forever. A lot of water under the bridge si...