Feature: The Top 15 Interviews on HollywoodChicago.com in 2011

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CHICAGO – One of the great privileges of reporting film and television on HollywoodChicago.com is the opportunity to interview the performers, directors and legends that create movie and TV content.

Three of the HC critics and reporters – Matt Fagerholm, Patrick McDonald and Brian Tallerico – gathered their best interviews of the year (including Burt Reynolds, Jodie Foster, Emma Stone, Elizabeth Olsen, Gary Oldman, and more) to create a Top 15 for the year 2011.

From the luxury hotel suites to the back stage appearances, to the conventions and autograph shows, HollywoodChicago.com sought out and sat down with the stars, directors and legends of TV and the silver screen, often backed up with the photography of Joe Arce. These 15 interviews comprise the best of 2011.

StarMatthew Lewis

Matthew Lewis
Matthew Lewis
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Interviewer: Matt Fagerholm

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: It’s a rare opportunity to interview one of the major stars of the summer’s biggest hit. As Neville Longbottom, Matthew Lewis had the most extreme evolution throughout the eight-picture “Potter” franchise, graduating from slapstick pratfalls to heroic swordplay. At the previous night’s screening of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” Neville’s scenes had received exuberant applause from fans of all ages. When I recounted this audience reaction to Lewis, he blushed like a giddy schoolboy. For a fleeting moment, his inner-Neville had shown through.

Memorable Quote:If there’s someone I would say is responsible for my growth as an actor, it would absolutely be David Yates, as well as your Al Pacinos and Robert De Niros. People like Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes who I grew up watching in person—those guys taught me more than anything else just by being around me. The professionalism, the way they hold themselves onset—and they’re genuinely good people. But David Yates really gave me that boost and that belief and kickstarted me on this voyage of discovery. ” 

StarEmma Stone

Emma Stone as Skeeter in ‘The Help’
Emma Stone as Skeeter in ‘The Help’
Photo credit: Dale Robinette for DreamWorks Pictures

Interviewer: Patrick McDonald

Opening Notes: With nearly close to 30 interviews last year, it is impossible to winnow it down to a Top Five. I will call these the Five Most Memorable. Use the search engine to find amazing chats with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Ernest Borgnine, Ed Helms, Octavia Spencer, Tom Felton, Vera Farmiga, John Cho and Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar), Dennis Farina, T.J. Miller, Shailene Woodley and Anthony Michael Hall, among others. I now return you to the regularly scheduled Five Most Memorable.

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Emma Stone had an amazing 2011, continuing her rise as a bankable star and capped off by her participation in the Oscar nominated “The Help.” She was present at the interview suite with co-star Octavia Spencer and Director Tate Taylor. Before we began the interview, I mentioned to her that she was one of those actresses that the camera really loved, which is why she will have continued success. For someone who I’m sure collects compliments like grains of sand she was grateful for the remark, telling me “You really know how to start an interview.”

Memorable Quote:I wouldn’t consider myself a so-called ‘celebrity.’ Arrrgh, for the love of God! [laughs] For sure! Quit it. I have no experience outside my own. It like people asking me what was it like not going to your high school graduation. I don’t know, because I didn’t go! I have no experience outside my own, so I really couldn’t tell you the difference navigating my life as compared to anyone else.

StarNicolas Winding Refn

Photo credit: Film District

Interviewer: Brian Tallerico

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Riding a wave of support for his critically-beloved (and CFCA Award-winning) “Drive,” the uber-talented director sat down with me at the Park Hyatt in Chicago to talk about how his film was inspired by both Grimm’s Fairy Tales and “Pretty Woman,” why he felt Albert Brooks needed to kill someone, and the role of critics in filmmaking. As fascinating an interview subject as one would expect having seen his unique works, one really gets the feeling when talking to Refn that we’ve only seen the beginning of what he’s capable of accomplishing.

Memorable Quote:It makes him unpredictable. He doesn’t have normal human conditions. If you need him as a human being, he will be a human being. If you need him as a hero, he will be a hero. The transformation is always something I have been very interested in.

StarPatrick Fabian

Patrick Fabian, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones and Ashley Bell star in Daniel Stamm’s The Last Exorcism.
Patrick Fabian, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones and Ashley Bell star in Daniel Stamm’s The Last Exorcism.
Photo credit: Lionsgate Entertainment

Interviewer: Matt Fagerholm

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Regardless of a film’s actual quality and merit, the cast and crew obviously want to keep interviews on a positive note. “The Last Exorcism” was a film I admired for a variety of reasons, but like many viewers, I felt that it had derailed terribly in its final act. The film’s star, Patrick Fabian, was in such good spirits that I thought it would be possible to get his honest feelings regarding the film’s ending. Mission accomplished.

Memorable Quote:I thought the ending was going to go in a different direction at one point, because the film sets itself up as being something else. I thought it was going to be more about what happens with Cotton and what happens with Nell as people as opposed to this sort of wrap up. [Stamm] creates such a viable, realistic world that to be taken out of that realism and be reminded that you’re seeing a movie is a weird violation. And I think that’s what people went through. They recognize the sort of ending they were being given, and that takes them out of the truly original experience of the first ninety minutes. ” 

StarBrit Marling

Brit Marling in Chicago, July 2011
Brit Marling in Chicago, July 2011
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for HollywoodChicago.com

Interviewer: Patrick McDonald

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: One of the great perks of interviewing people in the film business is when you get to meet an up-and-coming actor or director. Brit Marling wrote and starred in “Another Earth,” an emotionally charged, redemptive science fiction film. Her artistry was apparent during the interview, as she spoke of daydreaming her screenplays, identity, the chaos of the world she created and discovery. Truly, this is a future player in the art of cinema.

Memorable Quote:I do think the reason we wanted to tell a story about forgiveness and redemption is because the other earth seemed to inspire that in us. The feeling that there was a Judgment Day, or end of days scenario, the idea that in judgment or in the last moment, it’s not an external force that is going to judge you, you’re really just going to judge yourself. It’s the question of whether or not you’re going to let yourself off the hook for the things you’ve done or the life you’ve led.

StarSean Durkin & Elizabeth Olsen

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

Interviewer: Brian Tallerico

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Those of us lucky enough to do interviews can often tell when we’re speaking to someone on the verge of greatness. It’s often the case that we’re doing the interview before the public has even gotten a chance to see the movie. It’s like speaking to someone just before they get called up to the majors in baseball or just before they hit the stage for their Broadway debut. There’s an energy, a feeling of inspirational hope. I’ve rarely felt that hope as strongly as I did with CFCA Award winners for Most Promising Filmmaker and Most Promising Newcomer, Sean Durkin and Elizabeth Olsen. So smart, so engaging, and so on the cusp of breaking through to the next level. There’s an awareness that the next time I speak to them will be different. You can only break through once.

Memorable Quote:The main thing I learned is how important it is for everyone to be collaborative and kind and helpful. You need to trust each other’s opinions. Sometimes egos get in the way and there’s a hierarchy and you feel that tension. That affects the ultimate environment which affects the ability to make good work. This was the most collaborative process in the world and I learned that was so important — leave that ego stuff at the door.

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