Tag Archives: Water for Elephants

Reese Witherspoon Took to Circus Tricks Like a Natural, Says ‘Water for Elephants” Sebastien Stella

Sebastien Stella

          If Reese Witherspoon ever gets tired of acting, it sounds like she could have a circus career, for real.  At least, that’s the sense one gets when talking to “Water for Elephants” choreographer Sebastien Stella, who spent weeks training Reese and Christoph Waltz for their circus performances in the feature that also stars Robert Pattinson.  He tells us that both stars were “great, just awesome” to work with.  Reese especially so.  “She was willing to do anything asked of her, and we made the most of her background in gymnastics and tumbling when creating her act.  Pretty quickly I was expecting her to do difficult tricks, pushing her to do more and more,” says Stella, whose background ranges from starring stints with Cirque du Soliel to serving as aerial choreographer and co-performer with pop superstars the likes of Pink.  (He’s also seen performing in the film.)

            In fact, Stella says the only challenging part of working with Reese was trying to find rehearsal times.  “She’s a very busy lady.”  Challenges of choreographing the movement in the film included authentically recreating a 1931 circus experience — complete with old-fashioned rigging — while making sure it had enough wow factor “to connect emotionally for 2011 audiences.”

           He not only dealt with the human performers involved, but all the animals.

            “Of course, the story of the movie has to do with violence with the animals, which is terrible” — and the reason veterinarian Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson) enters the picture.  But behind the scenes, “Everyone took amazing care of the animals,” Stella assures.  “They were treated like stars, respected as artists.”

Pasty Faces Galore in New Robert Pattinson Film

While Robert Pattinson is busy celebrating the box office bonanza of  “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” there’s also work to be done.  He’s in the midst of shooting “Water for Elephants” with Reese Witherspoon, which has been locationing in downtown L.A. the last couple of days with at least some cast members who apparently share Edward Cullen’s pasty pallor.

Forces on the film have been seeking proficient Foxtrot dancers who are not only Caucasian, but “very, very pale – not a suntan at all,” who are thin, with no implants and no piercings, according to casting notices.  There was also the need for a very pale cigarette girl, and a very pale man with a 32-inch waist.  The pallid faces and thinness have nothing to do with vampires on this movie, of course.  Based on Sara Gruen’s acclaimed novel, it is set in the 1930’s Great Depression and, as notices remind, “nobody’s doing well.”

MORE THAN A PARTY:  Happy Independence Day to one and all, and a thoughtful note from Jimmy Smits, who is hosting the 30th Annual “A Capitol 4th” event being carried on PBS from the nation’s Capitol.  After performances from the likes of David Archuleta, Reba McEntire and Gladys Knight, the show ends with a phantasmagoria of fireworks.  “To have this fireworks display in Washington, D.C. is so moving because of the backdrops of the national monuments,” notes Smits.  “Being that we’re in a time of conflict and having young people serving and protecting us, to me, it kind of focuses what it is that the fireworks represent for the country.”

THE INDUSTRY EYE:  Tricky casting challenge on Gavin Polone’s movie showing the behind-the-scenes drama of making 1973’s landmark “An American Family” documentary series.  They need to find an actor who can play Dick Cavett in that  era when he was the intellectual choice for late night viewing.  Lance Loud – being portrayed by Thomas Dekker in the movie – notoriously guested on the old Cavett show.  Diane Lane and Tim Robbins play Lance’s parents.

Megan Mullally Hopes ‘Party’ Goes On and On at Starz, Lisa Kudrow Talks Playing it Straight

Megan Mullally NBC photo

Megan Mullally is delighted with her latest show, “Party Down,” and considers her character one of her favorite roles.  Now she just hopes more people find the network.

“We’re just trying to get everybody to get Starz.  The show has gotten so much critical acclaim, but so many people don’t have Starz,” notes Mullally of the cable network.  “The guy who ran HBO for 17 years just took over so they have a chance now to really turn it into something. They also just released season one on DVD so that helps.”

In the second season, launching tomorrow night (4/23), Mullally makes her debut as a middle-aged refugee from a lousy marriage who moves to Hollywood in hopes that her 13-year-old daughter will make it big.  The show takes us into the crazy world of wannabe actors, writers and others who work as caterers for fancy Hollywood events while awaiting their big breaks.  “My husband and I happened to stumble upon the show the first season. We were like, ‘This show is so good.  What is the deal?’” she recalls.  “Then when Jane [Lynch] left to go do ‘Glee’ it left this space that they needed to fill and they wrote a new character.  When they called, I instantly said yes.  I think it’s the best half hour show on cable, hands down.”

MEANWHILE:  Fear not, “Will & Grace” fans.  When she’s not busy partying down, Megan’s continues working on her planned “Karen: the Musical” that promises to bring back to life her self-centered Karen Walker character from the classic sitcom. “It will be a touring show where Karen and Beverley Leslie will have a big throw down,” she says of her and Leslie Jordan’s infamous “Will & Grace” characters.  “I think it will be a lot of fun.  Leslie has done so much theater that I thought it was perfect.”  It will certainly make those “Will & Grace” fans happy, who still can’t get enough of Karen’s wicked ways. “I think it’s nice to be associated with that show and I’m sure I always will be,” says Mullally.  “I still keep in close contact with everybody and we’re proud to have been a part of such a great show.”

Lisa Kudrow, Damian Dovarganes photo

THE BIG SCREEN SCENE:  Funny woman Lisa Kudrow got the chance to show off her serious acting chops in the movie “Paper Man,” hitting theaters tomorrow (4/23), and she admits it was quite different from what she’s used to doing.  “It’s strange to be in something where there is comedy and you don’t have anything to do with it.  Sometimes I would have a moment of like, ‘Wait.  Did I miss something all along?  Was I supposed to turn the funny switch on?  No?  Ok,’” says Kudrow with a laugh.

In the flick, Kudrow plays the wife of Jeff Daniels, who is a washed-up writer with an imaginary superhero friend portrayed by Ryan Reynolds.  “I really liked the script.  I was anxious to see how they were going to pull it off, especially with the imaginary friend.  I also liked the complicated relationship between the husband and wife – that commitment to the one you love,” she explains. “This guy has been a burden for a long time.  Somebody goes through a rough patch and that’s no big deal but this has been going on for years and she’s tried to help him.  It deals with personal disappointment because he didn’t turn out to be the successful novelist she thought she was marrying.”

Kudrow also recently got the chance to team up with her former “Friends” co-star Courteney Cox on “Cougar Town,” which Kudrow tells us it was a real treat.  “That was great fun.  It was like we didn’t skip a beat.  It was such a nice surprise.  Even though they were different characters, I was sitting there across from her and it was so comfortable and familiar,” she says.  “Other than that, we try to keep in touch but it’s hard because we’re so busy.”

SPECIALTY ACTS:  With the late May production start of “Water for Elephants” fast approaching, casting forces on the period circus film starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz are busy filling out their big top family.   Among the colorful performers to be added to the cast, jugglers, stilt walkers, a 400-lb. white woman, burlesque girls, sword swallowers, an escape artist, a tattooed man and a woman whose entire body is tattooed (Jesse James and mistress No. 1 perhaps?), a bald man, fire-breathers, contortionists and…a woman with a really long neck.

And while we’re at it, they’re already on the lookout for specialty acts to fill out the roster of Jerry Lewis’ MDA Labor Day telethon.  Maybe they should just go over to the “Water for Elephants” set and see who they can recruit.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster