This week we sit down with a veteran of one of the baddest and most beloved sci-fi films in history who’s enjoyed a 50-year career in showbiz, and a 13-year-old star from the most popular sci-fi franchise of the moment whose career is just kicking into high gear.
Kurt Russell: A Snake Plissken Reboot Is a Bad Idea – Unless…
Kurt Russell has that rare distinction of being both a big-name movie star and a sci-fi fantasy cult icon due to his enduringly potent '80s-era collaborations with director John Carpenter (Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing). Now in the twisty, turning caper film The Art of the Steal, opening in limited release March 14, Russell gives a charmingly down-and-out performance as part of heist crew that includes the manipulative brother who betrayed him years earlier.
It's no Snake Plissken eyepatch.
Russell reveals that at this stage of the game he only makes movies that pique his interest beyond their box office potential.
Rather than strategic projects to boost his long-lasting fame and considerable fortune – “I was never very good at that,” he admits – he relies on his career gatekeepers to suggest scripts that might have an angle that intrigues him, “and boom, I'll see that and I go, 'I don't know if anybody wants to see that movie, but I would like to see that movie,'" he says. “'I don't know if anybody else wants to see that character, but I think I'd like to see that character.’ It's just a visceral feeling, like when you're 11 years old: 'Let's make a show.'”
Russell says that those gut moves – including some of his pairings with Carpenter – didn’t perform as well as more commercial choices but have stood the test of time. “A lot of the movies that now are loved, I loved doing but critics didn't jump on them at the time. Audiences didn't jump on them at the time. They did later,” he says. “I don't what that says except that that's part of my life and that's the way it is. And I can run them down on the list – I mean, there's lots of them! So I gave up trying to figure out any of that. I do movies for specific reasons now. Generally, because there's something about it that I like.”
Rumors tend to rise and fall surrounding a possible new screen life for his most iconic role, Escape from New York’s Snake Plissken (last year word was that Tom Hardy or Liam Neeson would play the character in the Joel Silver-produced reboot), but Russell remains adamant that he won’t be donning Snake’s eyepatch again.
“No, I'm too old to play him,” says Russell. “Snake's a bit of a mythical character. He should always be as John wrote him: he should be a guy in his prime, and he should be American. It's important, I think, that he's American. I like Snake. What's interesting to me about Snake is [he's] actually a pretty well thought-out character. He never loses sight of the fact that his life depends on how he interprets what's said to him. And it's why he doesn't say very much: talking is of no use to him. It does him no good. It's just a waste of time.”
He stops short of hoping that no new Plissken film gets made. “My thing about remakes is this: as far I'm concerned – and I've done remakes that I didn't think should be done – remakes should only be done if there was a flaw in the original: in screenplay, casting, they didn't have enough money to do it correctly, whatever,” he says. “But some things are meant to be what they're meant to be. I will say that the leanness of the movie that John Carpenter did and the portrayal of the character that Kurt Russell did – you're asking for trouble because it's going to be tough to beat. You're going to have a lot of people who want that leanness. They don't want it beefed up. That's not what it's about. You're missing the point….So okay, now why are we doing it?
“Unless you have a great idea,” he adds quickly, “in which case I'm the one who would jump up and say, 'Oh! That's the way to do it! Do that! Get that guy! Do that, get that guy and don't f***ing back off! Do it just like you're talking about! Don't back off one inch from that!' And then you'll do something great.”
Willow Shields: Katniss Plays with Cat Toys
“After playing Prim for a couple of years, I do feel that I've really connected with that character,” says actress Willow Shields of her ongoing role as Katniss Everdeen's younger sister in the Hunger Games franchise – the second installment, Catching Fire, says actress Willow Shields of her ongoing role as Katniss Everdeen's younger sister in the Hunger Games franchise – the second installment, Catching Fire, just hit home video with a tricked out Blu-ray combo pack on Mar. 7. “And I connect with Jen on so many levels, that it really does come pretty easily on set when we're in the scene, in the moment."
“Jen,” of course, is Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, with whom Shields has forged a near-sisterly off-screen bond with while playing onscreen siblings – and the younger actress admires the talents of her role model. “She's such an incredible actress that I'm always studying her acting on set,” she says.
She’s also seen Lawrence’s spunky side in full effect: “When we were filming Catching Fire she'd do crazy things,” says Shields. “Like when the cat was on set, she'd be playing with the cat toys in the corner trying to get me to laugh. In the moment [when] we're working, we do it. But right when they say 'cut,' we're goofing off, having fun.”
With J-Law at the Catching Fire Los Angeles premiere
She’s gotten used to being recognized in some of the most far-flung corners of the globe. “Probably the funniest was when I was hiking with some friends in the mountains and there was like no one there – no one,” she says. “And then all of a sudden, there's like a group of two kids that come around the corner, and they recognized me. It's one of those moments where you're like, 'I thought I was hiking in the mountains where no one else was,' but then here you go. But it's really fun!”