VERA ANDERSON reports from the Welsh set of the new series
Matthew Rhys in The Bastard Executioner
What better host could the HFPA have, welcoming them to Wales, than native Welshman Matthew (The
Americans) Rhys, excited to talk about his role in FX’s new historical fictional drama The Bastard
Executioner, currently being filmed locally, and on this evening to share some of his favorite childhood
“My hometown,” he enthused. “I grew up ten minute from here! It’s where I would always come
as a kid, and I think it’s a very unique experience ‐ you can start 2,000 years ago in the Celtic Village, and
then you go all the way up to present day in these original authentic buildings that they have recreated
brick by brick. So I have always recommended this place for people to come, for a taste of a variety of
Where Rhys has brought us is a twenty minute drive from Cardiff, to St. Fagans National History Museum,
an acclaimed open‐air museum where craftsmen demonstrate original skills like shoemaking, weaving
and iron‐works on the park‐like grounds, set amidst authentic, meticulously reproduced buildings from
different historical periods.
Members donned hard hats to tour the construction site of Llys Rhosyr, a re-creation
of a medieval Prince’s Court, then settled in for an appropriately‐themed medieval feast. It was a
great introduction to set the tone for the next day’s visit to some of the sets where the series shoots, as
well as one of the main locations – an entirely movie‐built castle and village.
Show creator Kurt Sutter
Interviews with series creator Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), executive producer‐director Paris Barclay, and cast members
Katey Sagal, Stephen Moyer, Flora Spencer‐Longhurst and Lee Jones revealed more than a few details
about the upcoming episodes (the series will premiere on September 15th) but as for plot points and the
filming we watched, we’re sworn to secrecy.
“This isn’t King Arthur,” says Sutter. “This isn’t about knights on horses; it’s really one man’s
journey. And all the metal and swords and costumes and all the fantastic stuff that is part of the
production, it hopefully will just become a backdrop for what I hope is the interesting stories
of people you come to know and care about and hate.”
He admits that setting the story in the post‐Crusades period of history with only major conflicts well‐documented, gives them free reign to depart
from historical fact. “For the most part, the populous is just not even a full generation out of believing in
witches and goblins and a really thriving pagan ideology. So it is just this really interesting period that
where we are, it’s pre‐ Renaissance and so there’s really not a whole lot of self‐awareness and
enlightenment going on and yet there is this major thrust of religion happening and communities are
being built up, so it’s really this messy time and I was fascinated by that.”
Oscar winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and his star Leo DiCaprio joined HFPA members for an early screening of clips from The Revenant, the harsh story of an 1823 fur trapper who seeks revenge on his companions who left him for dead after he was mauled by a grizzly bear.
Inspired by real events it follows DiCaprio’s character through deep snow and graphically depicted ordeals including battles with Native Americans and the near-fatal mauling by a bear.
Inarritu filmed it chronologically over seven months in the snows and bitter cold of Canada, in weather which often sunk to minus 25 degrees, using only natural light, which sometimes meant filming for only two hours a day.
Relaxing outside the Santa Monica screening room, a bearded DiCaprio said: “It was a test of all our endurance. I think we all knew going into it we were embarking on an adventure that would test everything about us—and it absolutely did. The weather was so excruciatingly cold”
Inarritu concedes: “We were in very tough conditions in very unfriendly territories. Everybody was frozen, the equipment was breaking and to get the camera from one place to another was a nightmare.”
The Revenant will be released briefly on Christmas Day in order to qualify for Oscar contention and already it is being tipped to win awards for both the director and star.
JENNY COONEY REPORTS FROM THE SET OF THE HIT STARZ SERIES
Cagtriona Balfe and Sam Heughan talk to the HFPA at Gleneagles Hotel
It’s easy to find locations featured on the hit drama series Outlander when you arrive in Glasgow, Scotland. So much so that the Starz series has reportedly helped boost tourism by an estimated thirty percent as the global audience has come looking for the breath-taking locations featured in the story of time-travelling 1940s nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and 18th century Scottish clansman Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).
“I think it’s so vital that we are here in Scotland filming because it informs everything that we do,” Balfe tells the Hollywood Foreign Press Association during a recent visit to the stunning sets on location and in four sound stages built from an abandoned circuit board factory in Cumbernauld. “The landscape is so beautiful and the places that we go to shoot- the castles and other different locations – they just add so much texture to the show.” The Irish actress also acknowledges that Scotland lived up to its reputation for being cold and rainy but tries not to complain. “That just adds a great realism to it,” she adds unconvincingly. “Some night shoots, I’ve been sitting on a horse for hours in the cold and joked with the director, ‘I’m giving you the shivering for free!’”
Sam Heughan, who is a proud Scotsman, adds: “When I started filming Outlander, I fell in love with my country again and wanted to bring our culture to the rest of the world and I think we did that. I think it’s great for Scotland and it’s generated a lot of jobs but also shown the rest of the world what we can do and what we look like, so it’s wonderful.”
Many popular tourist destinations have been borrowed for the show, from the majestic rural estate of Hopetoun House, which poses in a few episodes as the home of the Duke of Sandringham, to the 14th century Doune Castle, which becomes Leoch Castle, the home of Jamie’s uncle Colum MacKenzie and his clan. If it looks familiar, that’s probably because it was also used in the 1975 comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, although it’s unlikely that cast took their job promoting Scotland quite as seriously!
Longtime HFPA member Ahmed Lateef has died after suffering a stroke.
Ahmed, a member since 1973 , was regarded as a pioneer who paved the way for other Indian filmmakers who followed in his footsteps. His long and varied career culminated in him receiving the Indian Film Festival’s lifetime achievement award.
HFPA president Lorenzo Soria said: “Ahmed’s strength and determination to live and good humor through many difficulties has been an inspiration to all of us. We will miss him.”
After attending film school at UCLA in the 1950s, Ahmed worked as a cameraman for director Roger Corman, became a film editor and went on to direct more than 1,000 commercials, some with name stars and one with Salvador Dali, becoming the first Indian to win a coveted Clio award. He was also the first to make a music video, filming the first one in 1966 for Sergio Mendes. He also experimented with mixing music tracks and with 3D cell animation.
He was the first person from India to become a DGA member and Francis Ford Coppola
was his student while he was an assistant teacher at UCLA.
He had close ties to the Hawaiian Film Festival which until recently he visited annually.
A group of HFPA members spent the evening at the Hollywood Bowl as guests of Amazon, producers of the TV series Mozart in the Jungle which stars Gael Garcia Bernal as flamboyant conductor Rodrigo, a character based on the L.A Philharmonic’s music director Gustavo Dudamel.
For a scene which opens the next season’s episode Bernal took over the conductor’s podium from Dudamel and led the Philharmonic in the overture to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. He looked every inch a real conductor and backstage he confessed: “I was so nervous but I had listened to the piece many, many times so hopefully it looked as if I knew what I was doing.” The series, set backstage at a New York orchestra, is a fictitious take on the popularity of Dudamel. Its creators have acknowledged that the character is based on Dudamel, who became music director of the L.A. Phil in 2009 to great fanfare and has become an international superstar
The scene will appear in an episode about Rodrigo guest-conducting the L.A. Phil.
After Bernal took his bows, Dudamel conducted the rest of the concert, an all-Mozart evening that concluded his summer concerts at the Bowl.
Backstage he and Bernal chatted and Dudamel good-naturedly protested :”In real life I am nothing like Roderigo. I live a very quiet, simple life.” And he added with a laugh: “Gael did a good job but I think my job is safe.”
For the second year running the HFPA’s Golden Globe awards show has been nominated for an Emmy.
The show, which was aired on January 11 from the Beverly Hilton Hotel, was hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and produced by the HFPA and dick clark productions.
It has been nominated in the Special Class Program category.
The Emmys will be presented on September 20 at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.