In DreamWorks Pictures’ gritty, white-knuckle action ride “Real Steel,” Hugh Jackman stars as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up boxer in the near future who, because his sport has been taken over by 8-foot steel robots, now lives in a world where he doesn’t fit in. With no fights and no prospects, Charlie is forced to hustle as a small-time robot fight promoter. He earns just enough money to survive by piecing together low-end “bots” and traveling from one seamy underground boxing venue to the next for whatever prizefight he can wrangle for his automatons. Just when things can’t become any more desperate and complicated, his estranged, tough-beyond-his-years son Max (Dakota Goyo) suddenly and unwillingly comes back into his life.
The alienated duo reluctantly team up to rebuild and train a scrap-heap robot and turn it into a boxing contender. As stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred fighting arenas are raised, against all odds Charlie gets one last shot at a comeback.
“Real Steel” is an underdog story with cinematic scope and a unique premise that offers surprises along the way. The film combines the best of grand spectacle with relatable, grounded storytelling. “Real Steel” director Shawn Levy experienced the story as a tale of redemption for three lost and forgotten souls. “The main characters––a father, his son and a machine––are each abandoned beings,” Levy says. “All three of them have been cast aside and forgotten. The substance of the story is about how this trinity has a chance of returning to grace.”
Don Murphy, Susan Montford and Shawn Levy are producing “Real Steel.” Executive producers are Jack Rapke, Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, Steven Spielberg, Mary McLaglen and Josh McLaglen. The screenplay is by John Gatins, from a story by Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven.
“Real Steel” is based in part on legendary sci-fi master Richard Matheson’s short story titled “Steel,” which was adapted for a 1963 “Twilight Zone” episode, starring Lee Marvin. Matheson’s prolific career has spanned over half a century, with many of his popular novels, including “I Am Legend,” “Hell House,” “Somewhere in Time” and “What Dreams May Come,” adapted to feature films. Matheson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.
“Real Steel” also stars Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis and James Rebhorn.
Imagine a time in the near future (2020) when boxing fans have become bored with watching human beings pummel each other. It’s a time when the public’s thirst for violence and carnage is greater than what mere mortal athletes can give––or take. It’s a world in which boxing has evolved to the point where men no longer compete against each other–– robots have replaced pugilists. The skill and grace of talented pros is a thing of the past. Instead, fans want full-on, mega-force, deathly poundings and the complete destruction of opponents.
The idea of boxing robots was a provocative one for noted director Shawn Levy, who is widely regarded for his box-office-hit comedies, the “Night at the Museum” franchise and “Date Night.” When DreamWorks first presented him with the idea for “Real Steel,” he says he was attracted to the project because of the pitch from Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider. “They called me up and talked about what at first sounded like a crazy idea for a movie,” Levy recalls of his initial response to the story. “Of course I was super-flattered and when I read the script, I saw an opportunity to make an exciting father-son sports movie with heart. That was galvanizing for me.”
“We were thrilled to get to work with Shawn,” comments Stacey Snider, principal partner/co-chairman/CEO, DreamWorks Studios. “And we believe that with this movie, he’s even surpassed the great work with which he’s previously been associated. ‘Real Steel’ is a real game changer.”
Executive Producer Steven Spielberg agrees and offers this additional insight: “Shawn created a reality. This movie is probably the most realistic movie Shawn has ever made, and I think Shawn reinvented himself as a filmmaker. I looked at the picture; it looks gorgeous, the shots are both subtle and imaginative. When it was over, I said to Shawn, ‘You know, you’ve made a lot of really great movies, but this is your first film.’”
Shawn Levy grew up not only as a fan of boxing but also as an ardent admirer of boxing movies such as “Raging Bull” and the “Rocky” series of films. “Even the not-so-great ones are awesome because there’s usually an underdog hero and you want him to have a comeback and to give his all and ultimately triumph,” the director says. “‘Real Steel’ is absolutely an homage to those boxing movies that I watched with my brothers fifty times.”
As Levy further explains, “I think that people respond to the clear-cut winner/loser aspect of boxing competition. It’s very simple, and I think interest in the sport is enhanced by that simplicity. When we get brilliant fighters like Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard, there’s something electric that happens, and I think it’s unparalleled in any other sport.”
Regarding the scope of “Real Steel,” Levy points out that the film is “definitely not a little chamber piece” but, instead, a film with cinematic scale that exceeds anything he has previously done. “Robot boxing is a big sport with huge spectacle,” he says, “but beyond that, the movie itself is extremely cinematic, with big, wide-open vistas and locations. It’s a road trip through the American landscape.”
But Director Levy did not want to rely simply on either the wide-open vistas or fantastic robot machinery in order to explore the relationships in the story. “For me, this movie couldn’t be just big and loud and cool,” says Levy. “That would have been unoriginal. The screenplay had a unique human heart at its core, so the movie had to be an interesting hybrid of bad-ass action and scale, with a really sincere and warm-hearted story that is ultimately about salvation.”
Perhaps Steven Spielberg describes the emotional core of the story best when he calls it “a heartfelt story of two comeback kids: one over forty, one under twelve and even another comeback kid named Atom, who is really the secret sauce of ‘Real Steel.’”
Hugh Jackman’s character, Charlie Kenton, was a heavyweight boxer in his youth, but he’s become a relic in his own time. Director Levy explains, “What’s worse is that Charlie now has to make his living off of the machines that put him out of a job. He has a combination of need and resentment towards the very robots that he’s plying and promoting in fights.”
When Charlie is begrudgingly reunited with his long-abandoned son, Max, it is clear that the only thing they have in common is a mutual resentment. But they do share one interest— robot boxing—and step by hard-fought step, they begin to connect. It’s not a very deep connection at first, but when they discover an old robot in a junkyard, their journey toward mutual rediscovery begins.
Producer Don Murphy elaborates, “When we first meet Charlie, he’s at his lowest; he’s doing robot fighting on the county fair circuit. But throughout the course of the movie we follow him on a roller-coaster ride toward his ultimate goal of competing and winning in the WRB [World Robot Boxing League].”
But with the unlikely combination of an underdog, scrap-heap bot and a tough kid who knows every stat of the WRB by heart, Charlie has a chance at more than just winning—he’s got a chance at redemption.
Coming from the world of comedy films, Levy says that although he thought that comedy sets are light and fun, he also thought that a drama set had to be more intense and serious. He was happily proved wrong. “I found that the bottom line is, whatever kind of movie I’m directing, I love the job, I love being there every day, and that vibe spreads. I always want my sets to be a place where people know they’re going to bring their best work and will be treated with respect. Part of that is me giving the team the game plan for the day but always leaving room for discovery and improvisation. There is a lot in this movie that was not scripted. I find that by keeping a set loose, you give room for great creative surprises.”
Because he is so admired for his creativity and amiability, Levy easily attracts some of the most talented behind-the-scenes artists in the business. As he says, “I’m really lucky. I make a movie every year or so, and I couldn’t keep up the pace without having a team of people who are at the top of their game––from Mauro Fiore [cinematographer] to Tom Meyer [production designer] to Marlene Stewart [costume designer] to Josh McLaglen and Mary McLaglen [executive producers] and, of course, my editor, Dean Zimmerman, who is like a magician. The same thing is true of my post team. We’re on our fifth movie together.”
Producer Susan Montford sums up the filmmakers’ feelings about having Shawn Levy on board to direct “Real Steel”: “We are just amazed by Shawn because he’s such a great leader. He’s very inspiring and he seems able to inspire his crew and actors to do their absolute best. Everyone coming to the set, wanting it to be a great movie and loving what they’re doing is quite an accomplishment for a director to pull off.”
Director Levy and his producing team spent a great deal of time finding the perfect actor for each of the roles in “Real Steel” and are thrilled that all brought more than expected to their characters.
First on Levy’s list was Hugh Jackman to play Charlie Kenton. Executive Producer Steven Spielberg says of the choice, “I thought Shawn’s instincts were just spot on. Coming up with Hugh Jackman as Charlie. I thought it was a brilliant idea. That really just became the power play that really got this movie rolling.”
The value of the project that instantly drew Hugh Jackman (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “The Prestige”) to the role of Charlie is one of the same things that made the director and DreamWorks eager to be part of this unique story. Jackman says, “What I loved first and foremost about the script is the father-son relationship and the idea that people who have made mistakes, who have regrets, can get a second chance, and they can become better people.”
Jackman was also intrigued by the world in which the story is set. “I loved the idea of the time period being not too far in the future. It’s a future that is seemingly accessible to us,” the award-winning actor says. “Also, I’m a big sports fan, so the robot boxing idea fascinated me. And of course it’s a real underdog story, with the person who has the most heart fighting to win in the end. It’s definitely a feel-good movie. And for me, it was something different from what I’ve done before. Also, working with Shawn Levy was a no-brainer. Shawn is just about the most positive, energetic and fun person to be around. The shoot was one of the most challenging and enjoyable I’ve ever had.”
Ramping up the mutual admiration society a notch, Director Levy raves, “Hugh Jackman is known as the nicest guy in show biz. I can confirm that rumor,” he says with sincerity. “It’s insane, but it’s like no one’s ever told him he’s ridiculously good-looking and a massive movie star. I’m hoping we can keep that secret, because he is way too nice for someone who is all those things. He’s the greatest and he brings an underlying kind of sympathetic, lovable trait to Charlie, who can be a really hard, tough guy.”
For the role of Max, the son who was abandoned early in his life by Jackman’s character, the filmmakers auditioned hundreds of boys and found many exceptional young actors. “We always had the feeling that there would be a kid out there who would be talented and who would have the right look, but would have that little something extra, something that you can’t quite put your finger on but is magic up on the screen,” says Levy.
The filmmakers put out an APB casting search, and as Jackman relates, “When Dakota came in, Shawn and I were really taken aback. There’s something very soulful about him. The camera just sees right into his soul. He allows the camera inside, which, for a young man of his age, is very rare. He’s got an angelic quality about his face. He’s naturally very outgoing and a naturally happy kid. And he’s very respectful and sweet. On the screen and off-screen, he’s a really special person.”
Steven Spielberg also saw a quality in Dakota that he looks for when casting actors for his films. He explains, “When I saw Dakota’s test, I just saw a real kid. I didn’t see an actor. You know you can just tell when somebody’s real, and that’s what I look for when I cast adults or kids.”
Dakota Goyo auditioned four times for the role of Max: twice on tape and twice in person in Los Angeles. In L.A., he had the opportunity to work with Hugh Jackman and says of the experience, “I wasn’t nervous around Hugh, because he is a great, awesome guy. He’s so polite and he’s always prepared to do his work. I’m really excited when I work with him, because he’s just really extraordinary.”
For the role of Bailey, which went to popular television star Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”), Director Levy admits that he was already a big fan of the actress and was thrilled that she accepted the role. “I marvel at Evangeline,” Levy enthuses. “I was crazy for her on ‘Lost.’ I was a big fan of that series. In ‘Real Steel,’ not only does she deliver in the big dramatic scenes between her and Dakota and her and Hugh, but also even when she was in a crowd of thousands of people reacting to the fights. In those tiny, short cutaways within the fight scenes, she brings so much visceral, rousing energy. She was kind of an audience surrogate for us. She is so into it and so vested in what happens.”
Lilly was drawn to the role of Bailey after reading the script for “Real Steel,” which her agent had sent her. Lilly recalls, “I was so moved and so touched, and it was so heartfelt and well written, I wanted the role.”
Aside from the great script, there was another factor that attracted Lilly to the project, and that was the opportunity to work with Hugh Jackman. “A while ago, after seeing a movie called ‘The Fountain’ by Darren Aronofsky, in which Hugh Jackman stars, I told myself that if I ever had the chance to work with Hugh, I would take it. He is so breathtakingly impressive in that film. So I decided, by virtue of the fact that he was attached, I had to do it. The bonuses were that the script was so darn good and Shawn Levy was directing.”
Lilly met with Director Levy to audition for the part, and as soon as they were introduced, the actress says she knew it was right for her to do the film. “Shawn is such a nice guy,” the actress says. “I always say he’s so ‘sparkly.’ He’s a man who’s happy and energetic, and he has a really positive energy. I think, in this industry, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking yourself too seriously and becoming very heavy-handed about the work that you do. Shawn couldn’t be lighter or more playful. He couldn’t be more collaborative, too, and so much fun.”
In the movie, Lilly’s character, Bailey, is the daughter of Charlie’s former trainer from back when he was a young fighter. The two characters have known each other their whole lives. They may have had a crush on each other when they were younger, but the attraction isn’t just physical; it’s based on the fact that they know each other inside and out. They know what makes the other tick. Bailey knows Charlie better than anyone else, and yet there’s a gravitational pull between them that is very much a subtext in the story.
After watching “Hurt Locker,” Shawn Levy knew he wanted Anthony Mackie to read the “Real Steel” script for the part of Finn, the host of The Crash Palace. As Mackie recalls, “I was blown away by it. I had never read anything like it. The character Finn is so charismatic. I talked to Shawn and told him that Finn would be really exciting for me to play.”
Rounding out the cast, the filmmakers hired Tony Award® nominee Hope Davis (“God of Carnage”) for the role of Deborah, Max’s aunt who has her heart set on obtaining custody of her orphaned nephew, and James Rebhorn (“White Collar,” “30 Rock”) as Marvin Barnes, her wealthy older husband, who can support young Max if the court decides to let them adopt him.
Kevin Durand, who had previously worked with Hugh Jackman in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and with Evangeline Lilly on “Lost,” was cast as Ricky, the robot fight promoter who, despite a long-standing friendship, isn’t shy about fighting Charlie to collect on a debt.
Russian actress Olga Fonda, with little previous film work, was cast as the Russian robot owner, while Karl Yune (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Speed Racer”) portrays Tak Mashido, the world’s premier robot designer and the pioneering legend behind the sport of robot boxing.
“Hope Davis, Kevin Durand, James Rebhorn, Karl Yune, Olga Fonda and Anthony Mackie. They are all amazing actors,” Director Levy states.
“Their roles may be considered supporting, but each of these wonderful people brought so much life and so much texture and dimension to what could have been ordinary characters. Every time they’re on screen, they bring something unexpected, and the movie is so much better for them being in it,” he concludes.
Executive Producer Steven Spielberg was active in the design of the robots and told Director Shawn Levy early on that he should not make everything digitally, although the technology exists to do so. Spielberg says, “In the digital world, the actors are reacting to practically nothing. When it’s actually a physical representation of the main attraction, the main event —and the actor can actually interact with it and touch it and look it in the eye—the performance blossoms. It’s good for the actors to have something real, something tangible in the space to act with. That was the only advice I gave Shawn: Every chance you get, build these robots full size.”
Levy elaborates on the discussion: “Steven Spielberg said he made ‘Jurassic Park’ a long time ago, but because they built some real dinosaurs and animatronics, there’s a reality to the acting that you don’t get if it’s just fake. And so it was at that very first meeting where Spielberg said to build some of the robots. So we built four to scale. And that was huge advice, because that’s why the performances feel so real and emotional. The actors were interacting with a real robot.”
The filmmakers turned to a talented team of incredible craftsmen at Legacy Effects to design the robots. The designers created a wide range of fascinating boxers for “Real Steel”—all with distinct looks and abilities.
In the film the robots are operated by human handlers with high-tech remote controls and control panels, but they are all very unique characters. As Producer Susan Montford says, “You could easily make a film about each robot because they are almost like fully developed personalities.”
Adds Producer Don Murphy, “The key is to create characters. They have to be fully formed. Though clearly not living beings, they need to be the next best thing so the audience can feel for them. These are characters that are recognizable and identifiable.”
With this in mind, the filmmakers wanted each of the hard-hitting robots to have specific personas and aesthetics, as well as different color palettes. The robots range in size from 7 feet 6 inches to 8 feet 5 inches, and are anthropomorphic in that they have two arms, two legs, a torso and a head (or, in the case of robot Twin Cities, two heads). But they are able to do things that human beings can’t. It was a challenging but ultimately fulfilling, creative process between the robot designers and the filmmakers to come up with the perfect cast of robotic personalities.
Director Levy says, “I want the audience to be conscious of the fact that, although the film has a science-fiction premise, these are not science-fiction robots. These robots are fighting machines that we’d like to believe humans could create and build in the near future. Apart from the scale of them––they’re not ‘Transformers’ scale and they’re not indestructible––we’ve given them some frailty and humanity in a way that reminds us of such antecedents as Iron Giant or WALL•E.”
Just as Levy wanted the individual robots to look different and feel original, he also wanted every robot to have a specific sound personality. That meant two things. One, when a robot lands a punch, there’s a sound specific to his skeletal material, his mechanisms, his bulk and his mass. There’s also an aura sound so that just merely by being turned on, every robot has a whir or a whoosh or an engine hum or the sound of a computer.
Sound Designer Craig Henighan enjoyed creating sounds that don’t already exist in sound libraries. He went out and recorded his own material, such as the sounds in a junkyard, car crash sounds, metal smashing against metal, etc. With a variety of sound influences, he played some of them backwards or tweaked the pitch of some.
As Director Levy points out, “Every robot sound was custom-made individually, and that’s the kind of thing maybe nine out of ten audience members won’t know or care about, but I believe that it creates a variety within the movie that’s original.”
While the other robot boxers are super-flashy and distinctive, Atom, the hero bot, is rescued from a scrap heap and definitely shows his wear and tear—dents, scratches and all. But his blue LED “eyes” shine brightly, giving him a presence that can’t be denied.
Atom has an unusual “shadow mode” function that mirrors every move he sees, so when Charlie shadowboxes with him, Atom takes on Charlie’s old-school moves and brings a level of humanity to boxing, with a grace and finesse long forgotten in the ring.
What makes Atom “special” is a question that the writer and filmmakers spent a lot of time discussing. Is Atom just programming and metal or does he have something resembling consciousness?
Levy adds that early on during production, Executive Producer Robert Zemeckis suggested that the line between saying that Atom has feelings or not was the hardest line to walk. “But if you get that right, that’s where the movie can have its poetry,” Levy says. “That’s where the movie can give audiences goose bumps.”
For some of the cast, the appearance of life-size robots on set was a complete surprise. Anthony Mackie recalls, “It was my first day on set and I was talking to Shawn [Levy] and out of the corner of my eye, I see this huge, imposing robot. I did not expect to see that…it was amazing. Then the robot starts looking around, and I’m just waiting for it to just click and start beating me up! I realized then that the type of movie we were making was very different than what I had imagined. It was a great experience.”
Contemplating the choreography of the fights, Shawn Levy knew that he wanted every fight to be different and wanted to take advantage of the fact that robots aren’t humans. “They don’t get tired. They don’t slow down,” Levy says. “And so the possibilities for choreography were wide open. As a result of Garrett Warren, who choreographed our fights, every fight is distinct.”
“A league fight abides by conventional boxing rules, whereas an underworld fight is much more like MMA (mixed martial arts),” explains Levy. “Choke holds, knees, elbows, anything is allowed. And so there’s a variety to the choreography that’s really fun. There’s also a narrative structure to every fight. Someone’s in the lead, the momentum shifts, there’s kind of an arc to it that makes every fight a story within the choreography.”
The production hired Sugar Ray Leonard—widely considered to be one of the all-time greatest boxers, winning titles in five different weight divisions—to serve as the film’s boxing consultant and to train Hugh Jackman for his appearance in the ring. As Producer Don Murphy explains, “One of the first things we did in order to make robot boxing not only realistic but relatable was hire Sugar Ray Leonard to come in and do the fight choreography, not only to show the actors in motion capture suits how to do it but also the director and the stunt guys just how blows should be landed. He’s really provided a similitude to the matches—they don’t just look like robots clunking each other.”
Hugh Jackman was pumped when Leonard was brought on board, especially since Jackman’s father had been a boxer and an army champion, fighting until he was in his early 20s.
Jackman says, “When I told my dad I was doing this film and was working with Sugar Ray Leonard, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him more amped or more jazzed in my life. He’s an Englishman, so he’s quite reserved. He told me that of all the people who have boxed, Sugar Ray Leonard is a true champion. There have been other champions, but there’s probably no one more respected than Sugar Ray. And when you meet him, you see that. He’s so generous and giving. He’s got a great, positive, effervescent way about him. He’s very respectful to people.
“It seems almost impossible to believe this guy was in the maelstrom of a boxing match, in some of the most vicious and tough situations anyone can imagine, because he’s just so congenial and nice. I mean, just to meet him was cool, but to actually be taught by him was great. He invented punches that no one had ever done before. To have Sugar Ray teaching me, that’s about as good as it gets,” Jackman concludes.
Curiously, despite the often-vicious nature of the sport, experts agree that boxing is equal parts mental and physical fitness. Leonard concurs. “If you’re able to get into your opponent’s head, you’re up a round or two,” he says. “It’s the mental stability that for the most part sends you to the championship. I look at the sport as an art form. Before any fight, I would choreograph a scenario in my head, and nine times out of ten, the fight turned out the way I imagined it.”
Leonard adds that he believes boxers are born, not made. However, he was able to teach Hugh Jackman to look completely convincing as a boxer. “I’ve watched Hugh for many years, and he has the right intensity and the right body to be a boxer. He was a great student. He listened well, took in what I said, digested it, and then brought it to life.”
Although Jackman has boxed in real life, he was interested to learn the subtleties of boxing from one of the all-time greats. From Leonard he learned the proper way to protect himself, how to throw a hook with the right hand, and that when he throws a punch to an opponent’s body, his free hand has to be up for protection. “There were just little adjustments here and there for Hugh,” Leonard says. “He is, after all, an athlete and in incredible shape. He caught on so quickly.”
Perhaps the most important element that Leonard brought to the film is authenticity. In the film Jackman becomes the corner man to the underdog robot boxer Atom, so Leonard talked to Hugh Jackman extensively about the connection between the corner man and his fighter and the intensity of what it means to be the ringside corner man.
“My character in the film is the corner man,” Jackman explains. “He’s not the boxer. I own and control these robots and promote them, so I’m the guy in the corner. Sugar Ray really got very intense with me. He said that he didn’t think I realized how important the corner man is in boxing.
“And even though there are robots in there, what you need to convey is that you’re the rock; you’re the strength. Sugar Ray said he used to hire Angelo Dundee for the last two or three weeks leading up to a fight, precisely because Angelo knew exactly how to talk to him during a fight. He said that if you get a corner man who doesn’t know how to talk to you, there’s nothing worse. I need to know when to pick my fighter up, when to shut up, when to say the right thing. The connection between the fighter and that corner man cannot be broken at any point. That was something I hadn’t really focused on, so it was terrific.”
Director Shawn Levy adds, “It may sound a little weird talking about how Hugh relates to the robot, but Sugar Ray really influenced the way Hugh played the scenes in the corner. The ways that Leonard contributed to the film are both overt and subtle and really valuable.”
THE WORLD OF ROBOT BOXING
In “Real Steel,” there is a very clear delineation between two worlds of robot boxing. There are two levels to the sport. There is the league, the WRB (World Robot Boxing), which is equivalent to NASCAR or the NBA. It’s corporate-sponsored, with big money, sanctioned venues and strict rules.
At the polar opposite is the gritty underworld, which has unsanctioned venues, with no rules, no restrictions—the robots fight to the death. It’s down. It’s dirty. It’s no-holds-barred.
The WRB is driven by huge budgets, delivering stadium-filling spectacle that culminates in the Real Steel Championship. The league features the most advanced robots in the world on its roster, all custom-built with state-of-the-art technology, exclusively for the global stage.
In “Real Steel,” Charlie Kenton pounds his way through the dangerous underworld venues with his robot boxers, driving hard to have one of his bots make it to a WRB league venue, where big money prizes and fame await.
The flashy, hard-hitting, mega-bucks, league-sanctioned robot boxers have pedigrees that extend from the robotic engineers who designed them to their owners and handlers. Each robot is distinct and unique, with its own personality, color palette, graphics, fighting style and traits. An entire league was envisioned for the film, complete with statistics on each boxer.
When the movie opens, we are in the near future—2020, to be exact—and the WRB has been in existence for seven years, having had its auspicious start in 2013 with the first televised robot vs. robot fight. The match was a runaway hit, and shortly thereafter, the WRB was formed. By 2014, underworld robot boxing was well under way.
By 2016, the “super bots” were ruling the WRB and robot boxing had become a global sport. In 2018, a new breed of robot boxer hit the scene: Zeus, who is larger and more powerful than any other robot ever built. He was built for domination and intimidation. His only goal is to dismantle and annihilate his opponents. Zeus is the reigning world champion.
The WRB is a world of global televised events, trading cards, sponsorships, big money, prestige, media hype and excitement. It is exactly the world that small-time boxing promoter Charlie Kenton wants to be a part of—and he’ll do whatever it takes to get him there.
Director Shawn Levy gives credit where credit is due and says that for the amazing technology used in “Real Steel,” he and the special effects teams “borrowed many pages from the technology that James Cameron developed for ‘Avatar.’”
Levy further explains, “This is a next-generation approach to visual effects. Simply put, instead of the traditional way, where we shoot an empty frame and then computer animators draw in a robot later, we did motion capture, where we had real boxers choreographed by Garrett Warren and Sugar Ray Leonard actually boxing each other. We took the data of their body movements. Digitized it. Stored it. Then, months later, we came to a real set and lined up a shot. I could then take that programmed motion-capture data and use what’s called Simul-Cam B to feed that stored data into a real-world place.
“It’s taking the technology that was literally invented on ‘Avatar’ but doing something a little different with it. ‘Avatar’ took motion-captured performances and put them in a virtual world. We’re taking motion-captured performances and plugging them back into the real world.”
Levy admits that the process sounds complicated and does us a favor by putting it in even simpler terms. “Here’s what it all really means,” he says. “We put fighters in the ring wearing data-capturing jumpsuits. They do the fight. Their moving data––the data that is their motion––is converted into a robot avatar on the screen simultaneously. Then we’re able to go to our live fight venue, line up a camera on an empty ring, and the technology allows you to take the robot fighting that you did six months earlier and put it in that ring in real time as you’re watching it. And that’s Simul-Cam B.”
To further illustrate the technology, Levy recalls his work on some of his previous films. “What’s cool is that when I made the ‘Night at the Museum’ movies, or even the way that Hugh made ‘Wolverine’ and ‘X-Men,’ the actors had to do their scenes opposite nothing. You had to just hope that it turned out all right. Whereas now we can line up a shot with Hugh in the frame and I can see the robots already there. And Hugh can look at what he is reacting to. So frankly, it takes all of the finger-crossing guesswork out of the equation.”
With robotic motion instead of human motion being key, the pure motion capture had to be adjusted. Levy explains, “We couldn’t use the pure motion capture. If we did, the robots would have moved too humanly. So we slowed them down to 89 percent speed. That was a big thing. Real human speed doesn’t work in robotic form. Just taking the edge off the velocity by a few percentage points gave the robots mass. Also, because sometimes Atom was too good, we had to add stiffness in his joints to give him weight and girth.”
The look of the “Real Steel” world is exceptional in the realm of production design. Production Designer Tom Meyer (“Orphan,” “Jonah Hex”) had a vision of the film’s near-future world that was very like our own, but timeless and steeped in classic Americana with a worn look and a patina of age. Director Levy calls the look “retro-forward.” “It is this kind of collage,” Levy states, “of the past iconography of retro America and the future that needs to exist to support this sport.”
He adds, “It’s not the future as it’s normally presented in movies, which is, for lack of a better shorthand, a kind of gun-metal gray desaturation. This is very much a color-filled, saturated palette, but it’s always natural-looking light. The world has an unvarnished quality to it.”
The film was shot in Michigan, primarily in Detroit, and there were no sets built. The film’s locations were existing outdoor spaces, arenas and old car factories. Levy wanted a gritty look to the film, with an unexpected approach to beautiful images. With the Oscar®-winning cinematographer of “Avatar,” Mauro Fiore, Levy got exactly what he was looking for. Levy recalls telling Fiore, “I loved ‘Avatar,’ but I want ‘Training Day’” [which Fiore also shot]. To Shawn Levy, the beauty was in the “grit,” not in the perfection, and that was the mantra for the cinematography.
Every aspect of the look of “Real Steel” flowed from that visual mandate—“retro forward.” And, thus, Costume Designer Marlene Stewart was entrusted to interpret the visuals of the script in an effort to help the director and actors achieve their vision of the characters.
Stewart created a wardrobe for Hugh Jackman’s character Charlie that was inspired by the ruggedness of the 1960s. She says that even his sunglasses are a brand and model that hasn’t been made in 15 or 20 years.
On the other hand, for the character of Tak Mashido, the designer and owner of robot Zeus, the clothes were forward-looking, high-couture fashion that feels a little more like the future.
Designing for the “near future” was a challenge that Stewart accepted with enthusiasm. “When designing for the ‘near future,’ it is actually a lot more difficult than when you’re creating for the past, what we call a period piece, or the future, where it’s a totally controlled design look,” Stewart says. “For Charlie’s ‘near future’ look, what I’ve done with the clothes is to bring a sort of everyman classicism to it. I use some 1930s-inspired clothes, ’60s trench coats and mixed periods. But it doesn’t look dated; they’re just clothes that everyone’s familiar with.”
For the Crash Palace underground boxing scenes, Stewart created a mix of working-class grunge and punk and mixed the colors in a way and pattern so that everything looked more extreme. “You really know where you are in the story, not so much because of where Charlie and Max are, but because of who’s in the background,” Stewart says. “The background becomes a character that comes to the foreground.”
In contrast, by the time the story shifts to the later sanctioned fight venues, Stewart created a very monochromatic palette that appears streamlined and simple so that audiences are not looking at individuals, but rather, at a mass group. “In earlier scenes, during underground fights, it was all about seedy and interesting characters that pull you into the story,” Stewart says. “Those two contrasts allow viewers to get a picture of the world in this sort of ‘near future.’”
Stewart says that in these later scenes, she used an almost-black-and-white color palette and gave the characters portrayed by Olga Fonda and Karl Yune a look that reflected the fact that they are wealthy. “They are much more upper-class people than Charlie’s sort of beaten-down, blue-collar character. They represent the most extreme contrast to Charlie’s world,” Stewart says.
Stewart has become part of Director Shawn Levy’s trusted team of collaborators. They’ve worked together on the “Night at the Museum” films as well as “Date Night” and Stewart is delighted to have found an alliance with a director as gifted as Levy.
About Levy she says, “One of the things I find so interesting about Shawn is that he’s very sensitive and really notices everything—from the clothing to the hair and makeup, everything that goes into creating a character. In terms of costume design, he definitely speaks the language. It’s great to have someone who knows what’s going on in your creative world, and it’s always a great experience working with him.”
Director Shawn Levy sums up his experience working on “Real Steel”: “There’s something very satisfying about the fact that the movie on the screen is the movie that was in my head,” he says. “It’s the movie I pitched to Steven [Spielberg] and Stacey [Snider] the first time I sat down with them. And we have been able to stay faithful to that initial instinct.”
He adds, “I hope that when the audience leaves the theater, they’ll have had a rousing, emotionally engaging time at the movies. I hope they have fun. I hope they laugh and cheer. I wanted the movie to be both visually spectacular and poignant. I hope both of those elements resonate with the audience.”
Hugh Jackman comments, “‘Real Steel’ is fun. There’s huge action, but there’s so much heart at the center of it that you’re going to get lost in the world. You’re going to love all these characters—human and robot alike.”
Producer Don Murphy adds, “I think ‘Real Steel’ has something for everybody. It’s got boxing for the men, robots for the boys, Hugh Jackman for the ladies and the family aspect for everybody.”
Producer Susan Montford wholeheartedly concurs. “It’s a beautiful story with an identifiable, relatable journey and big spectacle. I think we’ve got everything. It’s going to be massively appealing.”
“Real Steel” will be released in theaters nationwide on October 7, 2011.
“Fight smart, be patient…and pray.”
—Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton
ABOUT THE CAST
HUGH JACKMAN (Charlie Kenton) is a native of Australia. He made his first major U.S. film appearance as Wolverine in the first installment of the “X-Men” franchise, a role he reprised in the enormously successful “X2” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” in 2006. Most recently, he played Wolverine in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which serves as a prequel to the popular series.
In the fall of 2009, Jackman made a return to Broadway in the Keith Huff-penned “A Steady Rain.” Also starring Daniel Craig, the play tells the story of two Chicago cops who are lifelong friends and whose differing accounts of a few traumatic days change their lives forever.
On February 22, 2009, Jackman took on the prestigious role of hosting the 81st Annual Academy Awards®. Live from the Kodak Theater, he wowed those in attendance and helped ABC score a 13% increase in viewership from the previous year. This wasn’t, however, Jackman’s first foray into awards-show hosting. Previously, Jackman served as host of the Tony Awards® three years in a row, from 2003-2005, earning an Emmy® Award for his 2004 duties at the 58th annual ceremony and a nomination for his 2005 appearance at the 59th annual ceremony.
In early 2008, Jackman was seen in the Twentieth Century Fox film “Deception” opposite Ewan McGregor. The dark film explores the mystery of a woman’s disappearance and a multimillion-dollar heist.
In late 2008, Jackman appeared in Twentieth Century Fox’s romantic action-adventure epic “Australia,” directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film, set in pre-World War II northern Australia, sees Jackman as a rugged cattle driver who assists an English aristocrat (played by Nicole Kidman) in driving a herd of 2,000 cattle across hundreds of miles of rough terrain, where they must also face the Japanese bombing of Darwin, Australia.
Jackman has also starred in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige” and Woody Allen’s “Scoop.” He has lent his voice to the animated features “Happy Feet” and “Flushed Away.” Other films in which he has had leading roles include “Someone Like You,” “Swordfish,” “Van Helsing” and “Kate and Leopold,” for which he received a 2002 Golden Globe® nomination.
For his portrayal of the 1970s singer-songwriter Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz,” Jackman received the 2004 Tony Award® for Best Actor in a musical as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards.
Previous theater credits include “Carousel” at Carnegie Hall, “Oklahoma!” at the National Theater in London (Olivier Award nomination), “Sunset Boulevard” (for which he won a Mo Award, Australia’s Tony Award®) and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (Mo Award nomination).
Jackman’s career began in Australia in the independent films “Paperback Hero” and “Erskineville Kings” (for which he won the Australian Film Critics’ Circle Best Actor award and a Best Actor nomination from The Australian Film Institute). In 1999, he was named Australian Star of the Year at the Australian Movie Convention.
DAKOTA GOYO (Max Kenton) hails from Toronto, Canada. At an early age, Dakota discovered a passion for acting and playing in front of the camera. This passion, along with Dakota’s tremendous work ethic and natural acting talent, has led him to a burgeoning film career at the young age of 11.
Dakota’s feature credits include “Resurrecting the Champ,” opposite Josh Hartnett and Samuel L. Jackson, “Emotional Arithmetic,” opposite Susan Sarandon, and “Defendor,” opposite Woody Harrelson and Kat Denning.
Most recently, Dakota was seen as Young Thor, opposite Anthony Hopkins, in the Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios hit “Thor,” directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Currently, Dakota is lending his voice to the DreamWorks animation feature “Rise of the Guardians,” joining the likes of Jude Law, Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Alec Baldwin. The film will hit theaters in November 2012.
EVANGELINE LILLY (Bailey) was discovered in Kelowna, British Columbia, by a Ford talent agent. Six months later, she moved to Vancouver to attend the University of British Columbia and study international relations. After appearing in a few commercials, she chose to give up acting and focus on her studies. Two years later, however, a friend urged her to give acting another try. She soon landed the part of a corpse in episodes of “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” and the film “The Long Weekend.” Lilly also co-starred with John Malkovich in the 2008 Toronto Film Festival selection “Afterwards.”
In January 2004, Lilly landed her first speaking role in a television series when she was cast as “Kate” in ABC’s hit show “Lost.” Created by J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber, “Lost” won the 2006 Golden Globe® for Best Television Drama Series as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award® for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series. Lilly was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series and received a 2007 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Lilly is currently in New Zealand filming “The Hobbit,” the prequel to the hugely successful “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Lilly is wholeheartedly devoted to philanthropy, traveling and gaining a higher knowledge of various cultures around the world. She has been a volunteer for children’s projects since the age of 14 and, during college, founded and ran a committee for world development and human rights. Later, she spent three weeks living in a grass hut in the jungles of the Philippines.
Fluent in French, Lilly loves reading, writing, painting, music, nature, staying active, learning, tea and travel.
ANTHONY MACKIE (Finn) trained at the Juilliard School of Drama. After receiving rave reviews playing Tupac Shakur in the off-Broadway production “Up Against the Wind,” Mackie made his feature-film debut as Eminem’s nemesis, Papa Doc, in Curtis Hanson’s “8 Mile.” Spike Lee subsequently cast Mackie in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival Masters Program selection “Sucker Free City” and “She Hate Me.” He also appeared in Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award®-winning “Million Dollar Baby” and Jonathan Demme’s “The Manchurian Candidate.”
Mackie earned IFP Spirit and Gotham Award nominations for his performance in Rodney Evans’ “Brother to Brother,” which won the 2004 Special Dramatic Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards. In 2005, he appeared in “Heavens Fall,” an independent feature based on the historic Scottsboro Boys’ trials, which premiered at the 2006 SXSW Film Festival in Austin.
In 2009, Mackie was seen as Sgt. J.T. Sanborn in Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award®–winning “The Hurt Locker” (Best Picture), a performance that earned Mackie an Independent Spirit Award nomination. That same year, Mackie revisited the role of Tupac Shakur in Fox Searchlight’s “Notorious,” the biopic of Notorious B.I.G. He also starred as Maj. William Bowman in DreamWorks Studios’ “Eagle Eye.”
Last year, Mackie returned to Broadway, starring in Martin McDonough’s “A Beheading in Spokane.” He also starred with Kerry Washington in the drama “Night Catches Us.” Most recently, Mackie was seen in Universal Pictures’ “The Adjustment Bureau” and can be seen in the upcoming film “Man on a Ledge,” which will be released on January 13, 2012.
Mackie recently wrapped the films “Ten Year” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and is currently filming a pair of projects: the psychological thriller “Vipaka” with Forest Whitaker and the much-anticipated Ruben Fleischer film “Gangster Squad,” which also stars Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn. His other feature-film credits include “We Are Marshall,” “Half Nelson,” “Crossover,” “Haven” and “Freedomland.”
Throughout his film career, Mackie has appeared in several theatrical performances both on Broadway and off. He made his Broadway debut as the stuttering nephew, Sylvester, alongside Whoopi Goldberg in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Next, he was seen as the lead in Regina King’s modern retelling of Chekov’s “The Seagull,” starred in Stephen Belber’s “McReele” for the Roundabout Theatre Company and starred in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “A Soldier’s Play.” Most recently, Mackie was part of the Kennedy Center production of “August Wilson’s 20th Century,” where he and a cast of 30 other stars performed staged readings of all 10 plays in August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle.
KEVIN DURAND (Ricky) was born in Canada and has starred on Broadway, in feature films and on television.
In 2009, Durand was nominated for a Saturn Award for his recurring character, Martin Keamy, on the popular television series “Lost.” He was also a series regular on “Touching Evil” and the James Cameron hit series “Dark Angel.”
Durand was recently seen in DreamWorks Pictures’ “I Am Number Four.” Previously, he appeared in Universal Pictures’ “Robin Hood” as Little John, opposite Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett’s Maid Marian. Before that, he starred in Screen Gems’ “Legion” as the angel Gabriel, opposite Paul Bettany’s Michael, and as Fred Dukes, aka The Blob, in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” alongside Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber.
Durand’s other feature-film credits include roles in James Mangold’s “3:10 to Yuma” with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, Joe Carnahan’s “Smokin’ Aces” opposite Ben Affleck and Jeremy Piven, and Walt Becker’s “Wild Hogs” with John Travolta, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence. He also appeared in “The Butterfly Effect” opposite Ashton Kutcher, Jay Roach’s “Mystery, Alaska” with Russell Crowe, Columbia Pictures’ “Winged Creatures” opposite Forest Whitaker and Dakota Fanning, and Vertigo Entertainment’s “The Echo.”
Before beginning his film career, Durand was voted one of Canada’s funniest new comedians. In addition, he originated the role of Injun Joe in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” on Broadway.
He currently resides in Los Angeles.
HOPE DAVIS (Deborah Barnes) co-starred in the HBO movie “A Special Relationship,” in which she portrays First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton opposite Dennis Quaid as President Bill Clinton and Michael Sheen, reprising his role as Prime Minister Tony Blair. Emmy® Award-winning director Richard Loncraine directed the movie from a script written by Oscar®-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan. For her role, Davis received an Emmy Award® nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television.
On stage, Davis recently reunited with her cast mates of the 2009 Tony Award®–winning play “God of Carnage” for a Los Angeles-based run at the Ahmanson Theater. Davis received a Tony Award® nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Annette Raleigh during the Broadway run, opposite James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels and Marcia Gay Harden.
Davis was last seen on television in the second season of the critically acclaimed HBO series “In Treatment” as Mia, a successful litigation attorney, for which she received an Emmy® nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Davis’ most recent film credits include Michael Winterbottom’s “Genova”; Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York,” opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman; “The Hoax,” directed by Lasse Hallström; “The Nines,” with Ryan Reynolds; “Charlie Bartlett,” with Robert Downey Jr. and Anton Yelchin; and “Driving Lessons,” opposite Dermot Mulroney. Davis was also part of an ensemble cast in the ABC television series “Six Degrees” and the HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce,” directed by Todd Haynes.
In 2003, Davis was named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle for her work in two of the year’s most critically acclaimed independent features—Oscar®-nominated “American Splendor,” directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, and Alan Rudolph’s “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” based on Jane Smiley’s novella, “The Age of Grief.”
For “American Splendor,” Davis received a Golden Globe® Award nomination for her portrayal of Joyce Brabner, the fiercely intelligent, sardonic wife and collaborator to Paul Giamatti’s Harvey Pekar. The film was the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Best Picture of 2003 and also captured the Grand Jury Prize–Dramatic Competition at Sundance, the Best Film Un Certain Regard in Cannes, and the Grand Jury Prize in Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival. For “The Age of Grief,” she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance opposite Campbell Scott.
Additionally, Davis garnered critical attention for her work in a trio of independent hits: Greg Mottola’s “The Daytrippers,” Bart Freundlich’s “The Myth of Fingerprints” and Brad Anderson’s “Next Stop Wonderland.” Her film credits also include “Infamous,” “The Matador,” “The Weatherman,” “Proof,” “Hearts in Atlantis,” “Final,” “Joe Gould’s Secret,” “Arlington Road,” “Mumford” and “About Schmidt,” which won the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Best Picture of 2002 award.
In addition to “Camino Real” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Davis’ theater credits include the Lincoln Center productions of Rebecca Gilman’s “Spinning Into Butter,” “Two Shakespearean Actors” and “Ivanov,” opposite Kevin Kline. Davis has also appeared in multiple off-Broadway plays, including “Pterodactyls,” “The Food Chain,” “The Iceman Cometh” and David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow,” directed by Joel Schumacher. Davis also starred in “Hope Leaves the Theatre,” written by Charlie Kaufman and performed alongside Meryl Streep and Peter Dinklage. “Hope Leaves the Theatre” was part of the sound play project, “Theatre of the New Ear,” for Sirius Radio.
Davis currently resides in New York City.
JAMES REBHORN (Marvin Barnes) has an impressive list of credits that encompasses both comedy and drama. His many film appearances include roles in “How to Eat Fried Worms,” “Bernard and Doris,” “The Last Shot,” “Far From Heaven,” “Meet the Parents,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Snow Falling on Cedars,” “The Game,” “Independence Day,” “If Lucy Fell,” “White Squall,” “Up Close and Personal,” “I Love Trouble,” “My Fellow Americans,” “Guarding Tess,” “Carlito’s Way,” “Scent of a Woman,” “Lorenzo’s Oil,” “Blank Check,” “8 Seconds,” “My Cousin Vinny,” “White Sands,” “Regarding Henry,” “Basic Instinct,” “Silkwood” and “Baby Mama.”
Born in Philadelphia, Rebhorn earned his B.A. from Wittenberg University and his M.F.A. from Columbia. On Broadway, he has appeared in “Prelude to a Kiss,” “Dinner at Eight,” “The Man Who Had All the Luck,” “I’m Not Rappaport,” the Tony Award®–winning revival of “Our Town” and the long-running hit revival of “Twelve Angry Men.” He has played Harvey in “Ancestral Voices” and Captain Anderson in “Far East,” both at Lincoln Center, and most recently was seen as Woolsey in “The Overwhelming” at The Roundabout Theatre. He has also appeared in numerous off-Broadway productions at The Manhattan Theatre Club, The New York Shakespeare Festival and The Ensemble Studio Theatre, among many others. Rebhorn received a Dramalogue Award for his performance in The La Jolla Playhouse production of “Nebraska.”
On television, Rebhorn has performed lead roles in a variety of series and movies, including “Comanche Moon,” “The Book of Daniel,” “Third Watch,” “Seinfeld,” “Law and Order,” “Bright Shining Lie,” “Mistrial,” “Guiding Light,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” “Kate and Allie” and Tom Hanks’ HBO mini-series “From the Earth to the Moon.”
KARL YUNE (Tak Mashido) is of Asian descent (Korean/Mongolian/Japanese) and was born and raised in Washington, D.C. After graduating from high school, Yune successfully started and sold an Internet-based consulting business and was accepted to Columbia University as a business major. It was while studying Shakespeare during a literature course that he decided to switch his major to theater at the university’s School of the Arts. While still at Columbia, Yune won the role of Romeo in an off-Broadway production of “Romeo and Juliet.”
Yune continued to work as a theater actor in New York City and won critical praise for his performance as Gloucester in a contemporary rendition of Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” While casting “The Last Samurai,” Director Edward Zwick was impressed with Yune’s audition tape, and the actor went to Los Angeles to meet with him. Zwick later informed Yune that the studio had to cast the film out of Japan, but encouraged him to move to Los Angeles, since he saw promise in the young actor’s talent.
Inspired, Yune moved to Los Angeles, only to learn that he’d been offered a part on the popular daytime TV drama “All My Children” in New York. Yune passed on the offer and soon booked his first lead role in the cult film “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid.” The following year, he was picked by producer Steven Spielberg to play Koichi, the secret lover to Li Gong’s geisha, Hatsumomo, in “Memoirs of a Geisha,” the film based on the international best-selling novel.
Yune continues to work in lead and supporting roles in award-winning independent, foreign and Hollywood films. He resides in Santa Monica, Calif., and is most inspired by his new role as father to a baby girl. His brother, Rick, is also a successful actor in Hollywood.
OLGA FONDA (Russian Robot Owner) was born in Northern Russia and moved to America to attend high school in 1996 when she was 14 years old. Upon graduation, she received a full scholarship to the University of Maine, where she earned a degree in business affairs. She then moved to Los Angeles and soon began a modeling career. From there, she was cast in Barra Grant’s “Love Hurts” and decided to pursue her career in acting.
Fonda’s other film credits include Universal’s “Little Fockers,” Warner Bros.’ “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” with Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Bacon, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei and Steve Carell, and Summit Entertainment’s “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1.”
On television, Fonda has guest-starred on “How I Met Your Mother,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Melrose Place,” “Ugly Betty” and the season six finale of “Entourage.”
Fonda currently resides in Los Angeles.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
SHAWN LEVY (Director/Producer) is one of the most commercially successful film directors of the past decade. To date, his films have grossed over $1.6 billion worldwide. His youthfully enthusiastic approach to filmmaking is evident in the storylines and characters he creates and reflects his joyful intensity for each project at hand.
In 2010, Levy released “Date Night,” a film he directed and produced. The film boasted a stellar cast that included Steve Carell, Tina Fey, James Franco, Mark Wahlberg, Kristin Wiig, Mark Ruffalo and Leighton Meester. “Date Night” resonated soundly with audiences, grossing over $150 million worldwide. Levy’s production shingle 21 Laps also produced the hit comedy “What Happens in Vegas,” starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, which went on to earn over $200 million worldwide.
Levy both produced and directed the blockbuster “Night at the Museum” franchise, starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Hank Azaria, Amy Adams, Christopher Guest, Jonah Hill, Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney. To date, the global success of this franchise has netted more than $1 billion in worldwide box office.
Previously, Levy directed the hit 2006 comedy “The Pink Panther,” starring Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyoncé Knowles and Jean Reno. Levy also directed the smash hit “Cheaper By the Dozen,” starring Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Ashton Kutcher and Hilary Duff, which went on to gross more than $200 million worldwide.
In addition to his directing slate, Levy is producing the feature-film comedy “Neighborhood Watch,” starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, and his production company 21 Laps/Adelstein is producing the ABC sitcom “Last Days of Man,” starring Tim Allen. Levy and company are also developing several other films to produce, including “The Ten Best Days of My Life” (with Amy Adams), “The Devil You Know,” “The Pleasure of My Company,” “The Fight Before Christmas,” “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” “How To Talk to Girls,” “Kodachrome,” “Deadliest Warrior,” “Home Movies,” “The Berenstain Bears,” “The Spectacular Now” and “Table 19.”
Levy graduated at the age of 20 from the Drama Department of Yale University. He later studied film in the Masters Film Production Program at USC, where he produced and directed the short film “Broken Record.” This film won the Gold Plaque at the Chicago Film Festival and was selected to screen at the Directors Guild of America.
JOHN GATINS (Screenplay by) is a native New Yorker, where his father was a police officer. The family relocated to the Hudson Valley, near Poughkeepsie, where Gatins grew up and later attended Vassar College, graduating in 1990 as a drama major.
Gatins then moved to Los Angeles, where he wrote the screenplay for “Summer Catch,” which was directed by Michael Tollin. Gatins’ second script, “Hard Ball,” was also directed by Tollin and starred Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane. He created and executive-produced the Tollin/Robbins Warner Bros. pilot “Learning Curve” and co-wrote the football drama “Coach Carter,” starring Samuel L. Jackson. Gatins made his directorial debut with his own screenplay, “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story,” starring Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell.
He also served as executive producer on Brian Robbins’ comedy “Ready to Rumble.” In addition, he is an actor.
DAN GILROY (Story by) is a graduate of Dartmouth College. His professional career in Hollywood includes screenwriting, producing and acting. Among his most prominent feature-film writing credits are “The Fall,” “Two for the Money,” “Chasers” and “Freejack.” He also wrote the screenplay for the highly anticipated “The Bourne Legacy,” which is currently in production and stars Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz. As an executive producer, Gilroy’s credits include “Two for the Money.”
Gilroy is from an artistically creative family that includes his Tony® Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright father, Frank (“The Subject Was Roses”), and acclaimed film editor brother John Gilroy (“Miracle,” “Michael Clayton,” “Salt,” “Warrior”).
He is a native of California and lives in Santa Monica with his wife, actress Rene Russo, and their daughter.
JEREMY LEVEN (Story by) most recently wrote and directed the comedy feature “Girl on a Bicycle” for Warner Bros. International. The film is slated for release in 2012.
Among Leven’s most notable credits as a screenwriter are the drama “My Sister’s Keeper,” directed by Nick Cassavetes and starring Cameron Diaz, Sofia Vassilieva, Alec Baldwin and Jason Patric; “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams; “The Notebook,” adapted from the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks and starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams; and Robert Redford’s acclaimed “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. In addition, Leven wrote the screenplay (with Bob and Harvey Weinstein) for the comedy “Playing for Keeps,” which was also directed by the Weinstein brothers.
Leven is also a novelist and has adapted two of his books for the screen: “Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S.” (which became “Crazy as Hell,” directed by Eriq La Salle and starring Michael Beach, Ronny Cox and Sinbad) and “Creator,” starring Peter O’Toole and Mariel Hemingway.
Leven wrote and directed “Don Juan De Marco,” which was one of Johnny Depp’s early box-office hits and starred Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway. He also wrote and produced Rob Reiner’s comedy “Alex & Emma,” starring Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson.
DON MURPHY (Producer) was born in Hicksville, N.Y. He earned a B.S.B.A. at the Business School of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., although most of his time in D.C. was spent at the Biograph Theatre, Circle Theatre and American Film Institute watching the collected films of Kubrick and Polanski. His father helped him get a job as a copywriter during the summers at the now-defunct Diener Hauser Bates, an advertising firm that represented over 70% of the film studios at the same time. While there, Murphy worked on the campaigns for films like “Blow-Up,” “Under the Rainbow” and “Ragtime.”
After college, Murphy was accepted into graduate studies at the prestigious film school at the University of Southern California. There, he met future friends and filmmakers such as Bryan Singer, Michael Davis, Gary Fleder, Scott Rosenberg, Jay Roach, Jon Turteltaub, Dan Waters and Larry Karazewski. Soon after completing the program, Murphy partnered with fellow USC alum Jane Hamsher to produce motion pictures. Murphy knew Quentin Tarantino from a video rental store in the South Bay area, and this acquaintance led to their first alliance, “Natural Born Killers.” Two more followed: “Permanent Midnight” and “Apt Pupil.”
Murphy then produced “From Hell,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “Bully.” In 1998, Murphy started Angryfilms with partner Susan Montford and went on to produce the high-profile “Transformers” trilogy and “Shoot ’Em Up.”
Angryfilms is currently working on multiple feature-film and television projects.
SUSAN MONTFORD (Producer) grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, where she acquired a B.A. from Gray’s School of Art. She became a practicing artist working with mixed media (sculpture, photography and video) and exhibited her work regularly with the Transmission Gallery, Street Level Photography Gallery and Women in Profile.
A childhood passion for cinema came to fruition when Montford was awarded several Film Council grants and produced and directed two short films, “Strangers” and “Hairpin,” which played in several international film festivals.
Montford then relocated to Los Angeles, where she has focused on screenwriting, directing and producing. In addition to “Real Steel,” she has produced “Shoot ’Em Up,” starring Clive Owen, and “Splice,” starring Adrien Brody. She wrote and directed “While She Was Out,” starring Kim Basinger.
She is also producing numerous upcoming films, including “At the Mountains of Madness” with Guillermo del Toro and “Gala Dali” with Roger Avary.
Currently, Montford is finishing writing a pilot for Fox TV Studios and a second feature that she will direct.
JACK RAPKE (Executive Producer) graduated from New York University Film School in 1975. He then moved to Los Angeles to embark on a career in the entertainment industry. His first stop was the mailroom of the William Morris Agency. Four years later, Rapke joined Creative Artists Agency (CAA), where, over the course of the next 17 years, he rose to become one of the most successful agents in Hollywood.
During a seven-year tenure as co-chairman of CAA’s motion picture department, Rapke cultivated a high-profile client list that included Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Harold Ramis, Michael Bay, Terry Gilliam, Bob Gale, Bo Goldman, Steve Kloves, Howard Franklin, Scott Frank, Robert Kamen, John Hughes, Joel Schumacher, Marty Brest, Chris Columbus, Ezra Sacks and Imagine Entertainment partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Instrumental in building production companies around his clients, it was only a matter of time before he decided to build one of his own with client Robert Zemeckis.
In 1998, Rapke departed CAA to form ImageMovers with Zemeckis and producing partner Steve Starkey. Primarily focused on theatrical motion pictures, the company’s first feature was the critically acclaimed “Cast Away,” directed by Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. Rapke and partners went on to produce numerous hits, including Zemeckis’ thriller “What Lies Beneath,” starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, the Ridley Scott-directed “Matchstick Men,” starring Nicolas Cage, “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio,” starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson and “Last Holiday,” starring Queen Latifah.
Zemeckis’ pioneering use of “performance capture” technology in 2004’s “The Polar Express” blazed a new trail for modern 3D filmmaking. Rapke and partners produced three more films employing this revolutionary new technique: 2006’s Oscar®-nominated “Monster House,” 2007’s “Beowulf,” directed by Zemeckis and starring Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Ray Winstone and Robin Wright Penn, and 2009’s “A Christmas Carol,” for The Walt Disney Studios, also directed by Zemeckis and starring Jim Carrey. Additionally, the partners produced the Showtime series “The Borgias,” starring Jeremy Irons.
ROBERT ZEMECKIS (Executive Producer) won an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe® and a Director’s Guild of America Award for Best Director for the hugely successful “Forrest Gump.” The film’s numerous honors also included Oscars® for Best Actor (Tom Hanks) and Best Picture. Zemeckis re-teamed with Hanks on the contemporary drama “Cast Away,” the filming of which was split into two sections, book-ending production on “What Lies Beneath.” Zemeckis and Hanks served as producers on “Cast Away,” along with Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke.
Earlier in his career, Zemeckis co-wrote (with Bob Gale) and directed “Back to the Future,” which was the top-grossing release of 1985 and for which Zemeckis shared Oscar® and Golden Globe® nominations for Best Original Screenplay. He then went on to helm “Back to the Future, Part II and Part III,” completing one of the most successful film franchises ever.
In addition, he directed and produced “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster, based on the best-selling novel by Carl Sagan, and the macabre comedy hit “Death Becomes Her,” starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis. He also wrote and directed the box-office smash “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” cleverly blending live action and animation, directed the romantic adventure hit “Romancing the Stone,” pairing Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and co-wrote (with Bob Gale) and directed the comedies “Used Cars” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
Zemeckis also produced “House on Haunted Hill” and executive produced such films as “The Frighteners,” “The Public Eye” and “Trespass,” which he also co-wrote with Bob Gale. He and Gale previously wrote “1941,” which began Zemeckis’ association with Steven Spielberg.
For the small screen, Zemeckis has directed several projects, including the Showtime feature-length documentary “The Pursuit of Happiness,” which explores the effects of drugs and alcohol on 20th century society. His additional television credits include episodes of Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” and HBO’s “Tales From the Crypt.”
In 1998, Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke partnered to form the film and television production company ImageMovers. “What Lies Beneath” was the first film to be released under the ImageMovers banner, followed by “Cast Away,” which opened to critical and audience acclaim in the fall of 2000. “Matchstick Men” followed.
In March 2001, the USC School of Cinema-Television celebrated the opening of the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. This state-of-the-art center is the country’s first and only fully digital training center and houses the latest in non-linear production and postproduction equipment as well as stages, a 50-seat screening room and USC student-run television station, Trojan Vision.
In 2004, Zemeckis produced and directed the motion capture film “The Polar Express,” starring Tom Hanks. He also brought the true-life story of “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio,” starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, to the big screen. In addition, he served as executive producer on both “Monster House” and the Queen Latifah comedy “Last Holiday.”
Zemeckis produced and directed his second motion capture film, “Beowulf,” which was also produced by Rapke and Starkey. The feature, which stars Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone, is based on one of the oldest surviving pieces of Anglo-Saxon literature, written sometime before the 10th Century A.D.
Most recently, in November of 2009, Zemeckis released his most advanced motion capture film to date, “A Christmas Carol,” based on the celebrated and beloved classic story by Charles Dickens. Rapke and Starkey also produced the film.
STEVE STARKEY (Executive Producer) earned an Academy Award® as one of the producers of Best Picture winner “Forrest Gump.” The film, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time and collected six Oscars®, including Best Director and Best Actor, as well as a Golden Globe®, the National Board of Review’s highest honor in 1994, two People’s Choice Awards, the Producers Guild Golden Laurel Award and Best Picture BAFTA nomination.
Starkey also pioneered performance capture technology in the Zemeckis-directed films “A Christmas Carol,” “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf” and the Gil Kenan–directed film “Monster House,” all of which were produced by Starkey with his ImageMovers partners.
Starkey’s ImageMover’s credits include the Zemeckis-directed epic drama “Cast Away,” which re-teamed them with Tom Hanks, and the psychological thriller “What Lies Beneath” with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, also directed by Zemeckis. Starkey produced “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio,” directed by Jane Anderson and starring Julianne Moore. He also produced “Matchstick Men,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Nicolas Cage.
Starkey’s professional association with Zemeckis began in 1986 when he was associate producer on the innovative feature “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and went on to serve as associate producer on the second and third installments of the “Back to the Future” trilogy. Their collaboration continued as Starkey and Zemeckis produced the black comedy “Death Becomes Her,” followed by “Forrest Gump” and “Contact.” Starkey also co-produced the feature comedy farce “Noises Off” and produced the Showtime feature-length documentary “The Pursuit of Happiness,” which explores drug and alcohol addiction and was directed and executive produced by Robert Zemeckis.
Early in his career, Starkey worked with George Lucas at Lucasfilm, Ltd., where he became an assistant film editor on “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” He later edited documentary films for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, was associate producer of Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” television anthology series and executive producer on the 1993 CBS series “Johnny Bago.”
STEVEN SPIELBERG (Executive Producer), one of the industry’s most successful and influential filmmakers, is a principal partner of DreamWorks Studios. In 2009, he and partner Stacey Snider joined with The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group to form the new DreamWorks. This new entity is a continuation of DreamWorks Studios, which was founded in 1994 by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Spielberg is also, collectively, the top-grossing director of all time, having helmed such blockbusters as “Jaws,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” the “Indiana Jones” franchise, and “Jurassic Park.” Among his myriad honors, he is a three-time Academy Award® winner.
Spielberg took home his first two Oscars® for Best Director and Best Picture for the internationally lauded “Schindler’s List,” which received a total of seven Oscars. The film was also named the Best Picture of 1993 by many of the major critics organizations, in addition to winning seven BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes®, both including Best Picture and Director. Spielberg also won the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for his work on the film.
Spielberg won his third Academy Award® for Best Director for the World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan,” which was the highest-grossing release (domestically) of 1998. It was also one of the year’s most honored films, earning four additional Oscars®, as well as two Golden Globes®, for Best Picture, Drama and Best Director, and numerous critics groups awards in the same categories. Spielberg also won another DGA Award and shared a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award with the film’s other producers. That same year, the PGA also presented Spielberg with the prestigious Milestone Award for his historic contribution to the motion picture industry.
He has also earned Academy Award® nominations for Best Director for “Munich,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Additionally, he earned DGA Award nominations for those films, as well as “Jaws,” “The Color Purple,” “Empire of the Sun” and “Amistad.” With ten to date, Spielberg has been honored by his peers with more DGA Award nominations than any other director. In 2000, he received the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also the recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Hollywood Foreign Press’ Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Kennedy Center Honors and numerous other career tributes.
More recently, Spielberg directed the worldwide hit “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” the fourth “Indy” film. He is a producer of this summer’s success “Super 8,” directed by J.J. Abrams. His upcoming releases include his direction of the 3D animated film “The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn,” based on the iconic character created by Georges “Herge” Remi. It is presented by Spielberg and Peter Jackson and distributed by Sony Pictures in most international territories beginning in October and by Paramount Pictures domestically on December 23. He also directed “War Horse,” based on an award-winning novel, which has also been adapted into a major stage hit in London and recently won the Tony Award® for Broadway’s Best Drama. From DreamWorks Studios, the film is slated to open on December 28, 2011. In October, he will begin production on “Lincoln,” for release by DreamWorks Studios in the fall of 2012.
Spielberg’s career began with the 1968 short film “Amblin,” which led to his becoming the youngest director ever signed to a long-term studio deal. He first gained attention for his 1971 telefilm, “Duel.” Three years later, he made his feature-film directorial debut on “The Sugarland Express” from a screenplay he co-wrote. His next film was “Jaws,” which was the first film to break the $100 million mark.
In 1984, Spielberg formed his own production company, Amblin Entertainment. Under the Amblin banner, he served as producer or executive producer on such hits as “Gremlins,” “Goonies,” “Back to the Future I, II, and III,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” “An American Tail,” “Twister,” “The Mask of Zorro” and the “Men in Black” films. Amblin also produced the hit series “ER” with Warner Bros. Television.
In 1994, Spielberg partnered with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to form the original DreamWorks Studios. The studio enjoyed both critical and commercial successes, including three consecutive Best Picture Academy Award® winners: “American Beauty,” “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind.” In its history, DreamWorks has also produced or co-produced a wide range of features, including the “Transformers” blockbusters, Clint Eastwood’s World War II dramas “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” the latter earning a Best Picture Oscar® nomination, “Meet the Parents,” “Meet the Fockers” and “The Ring,” to name only a few. Under the DreamWorks banner, Spielberg also directed such films as “War of the Worlds,” “Minority Report,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.”
Spielberg has not limited his success to the big screen. He was an executive producer on the long-running Emmy®-winning television drama “ER,” produced by his Amblin Entertainment company and Warner Bros. Television for NBC. On the heels of their experience on “Saving Private Ryan,” he and Tom Hanks teamed to executive produce the 2001 HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” based on Stephen Ambrose’s book about a U.S. Army unit in Europe during World War II. Among its many awards, the project won both Emmy® and Golden Globes® for Outstanding Miniseries. He and Hanks more recently reunited to executive produce the acclaimed 2010 HBO miniseries “The Pacific,” this time focusing on the Marines in World War II’s Pacific theater. “The Pacific” won eight Emmy® Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries.
Spielberg also executive produced the Emmy®-winning Sci-Fi Channel miniseries “Taken,” and the TNT miniseries “Into the West.” He was an executive producer on the Showtime series “The United States of Tara” and is an executive producer on TNT’s “Falling Skies” and the upcoming “Terra Nova” on Fox TV, as well as an executive producer on “Smash,” which will debut on NBC early in 2012.
Apart from his filmmaking work, Spielberg has also devoted his time and resources to many philanthropic causes. The impact of his work on “Schindler’s List” led him to establish the Righteous Persons Foundation using all his profits from the film. He also founded Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which in 2005 became the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. In addition, Spielberg is the Chairman Emeritus of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
MARY MCLAGLEN (Executive Producer) is a veteran executive producer of some of the industry’s most memorable feature films. Most recently, she executive produced the hit romantic comedy “The Proposal,” starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, as well as the upcoming comedy “My Mother’s Curse,” directed by Anne Fletcher and starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen.
McLaglen has a long-running collaboration with Oscar®-winning actress Sandra Bullock, having worked with her on eight projects, including “The Proposal,” “All About Steve,” “The Lakehouse,” “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” “Two Weeks Notice,” “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” “Practical Magic” and “Hope Floats.” She has also served as executive producer on “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” Mimi Leder’s “Pay It Forward” and Barry Levinson’s comedy “Envy.” She co-produced “One Fine Day,” “Sgt. Bilko,” “Moonlight and Valentino,” “The Client” and “Sommersby.”
McLaglen, a third-generation veteran of the movie business, is the granddaughter of Oscar®-winning character actor Victor McLaglen (“The Informer,” “The Quiet Man”) and the daughter of Director Andrew McLaglen (“McLintock!” “Shenandoah,” “The Rare Breed”). Her brother, Josh McLaglen (“Avatar,” “Night at the Museum,” “Titanic”), a fellow executive producer on “Real Steel,” is among the industry’s most highly esteemed assistant directors/executive producers. In addition to “Real Steel,” McLaglen has collaborated with her brother on four additional films. This is her first film with Shawn Levy.
She began her career as a production assistant on her father’s sets, moved up the ladder to the ranks of production coordinator (“Nomads,” “Runaway Train,” “Back to School”) and unit production manager (“Jack’s Back,” “The Prince of Pennsylvania,” “My Cousin Vinny”) before producing her first film, “Cold Feet,” in 1988.
JOSH MCLAGLEN (Executive Producer) graduated from UCLA in 1980 with a major in history. After working with his father, Director Andrew McLaglen, as a stuntman and a production assistant, he joined the DGA in 1984. He worked as a second assistant director with his mentor, Duncan Henderson, on several films. In 1987, he became a first assistant director on the TV miniseries “Amerika.” “Real Steel” marks McLaglen’s 40th film as a first assistant director.
In 2002, McLaglen started working in a dual capacity as a co-producer/1st assistant director and now works as an executive producer/1st assistant director. He has worked with accomplished directors, such as current DGA president Taylor Hackford, as well as Robert Zemeckis, Francis Lawrence, Michael Bay, Shawn Levy and James Cameron. He’s been nominated twice for the DGA Award: for “Avatar” in 2009 and for “Titanic,” which he won in 1997.
McLaglen is one of the industry’s pioneers of the motion capture technology and has the distinct honor of having worked on the two highest-grossing films of all time: “Avatar” and “Titanic.”
MAURO FIORE (Cinematographer) won the Academy Award® for Best Cinematography for his work on “Avatar.” Among his other feature-film credits are “The A-Team,” “The Kingdom,” “Smokin’ Aces,” “The Island,” “Training Day,” “Driven,” “Lost Souls” and “Get Carter.”
He has also worked on numerous episodes of the popular HBO sketch comedy series “Tracey Takes On…” and was the director of photography on the shorts “The Call,” “Ticker” and “Drag.”
Fiore was born in Marzi, Calabria, Italy, and graduated from Columbia College in Chicago in 1987.
TOM MEYER (Production Designer) is currently in production on Shawn Levy’s re-imagining of “Fantastic Voyage,” which is being produced by James Cameron, his company Lightstorm and 20th Century Fox.
Meyer’s feature-film work includes “Jonah Hex,” starring Josh Brolin, “Orphan” for producers Joel Silver and Leonardo DiCaprio, Bryan Singer’s World War II epic “Valkyrie,” “We Are Marshall,” “A Lot Like Love,” “Blue Crush,” “Catch That Kid,” and the short film “Whatever We Do,” a 2003 Sundance Film Festival entry produced by Tobey Maguire. His credits as an art director include John Stockwell’s “Crazy/Beautiful,” Christopher McQuarrie’s directorial debut “The Way of the Gun,” “The Crow: Salvation” and “No Vacancy.”
Meyer made his debut as a designer on the 2002 comedy crime caper “Welcome to Collinwood,” directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. In 2006, he reunited with Clooney and Soderbergh, who executive produced the telefilm “Pu-239” along with Peter Berg. Meyer won an Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design for his work. His other television work includes art director credits on a variety of commercials and music videos.
He began his career as a 13-year-old intern at the famed Actors Studio of Louisville, one of the country’s most honored regional theaters. With a dozen years in the theater world, Meyer was a resident design associate at the Seattle Repertory from 1993 to 1996, where he designed such stage-production premieres as Arthur Laurents’ “Jolson Sings Again,” Jon Robin Baitz’s “A Fair Country” and Wendy Wasserstein’s “An American Daughter,” all directed by award winner Daniel Sullivan, as well as “Bill Irwin’s Experiments,” “Pretty Fire” and “SubUrbia.”
DEAN ZIMMERMAN (Editor) previously worked with Director Shawn Levy on “Date Night,” “Night at the Museum 1 & 2” and “Just Married.” Among his other feature-film credits are “Fun with Dick and Jane,” “Rush Hour 3,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “Jumper,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Flight of the Phoenix.”
Zimmerman’s earlier motion-picture credits include “A Walk in the Clouds” and the comedies “The Nutty Professor,” “The Ladies Man,” “Liar Liar” and “Half Baked.” He also worked on “Patch Adams” and “Galaxy Quest.”
Zimmerman is a member of Hollywood’s “royal family” of editors, which includes his legendary father, Don Zimmerman, his identical twin brother Dan and his younger brother David.
MARLENE STEWART (Costume Designer) received her Masters degree in European history from UC Berkeley and went on to get another degree in design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She has since built a long and illustrious career, working with some of the most prominent filmmakers of our time.
Stewart was an early pioneer in music videos, working with, among others, Smashing Pumpkins, The Bangles, Eurythmics, The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson and Debbie Harry. She also toured with Madonna three times and designed clothing for some of her most popular music videos, including “Vogue,” “Material Girl,” “Like a Prayer” and “Express Yourself.” The “Vogue” video earned Stewart a MTV Music Video Award for Best Costumes. During this time, she also designed a contemporary women’s clothing line, Covers, that appeared in stores in New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Milan and Rome.
Stewart’s feature-film credits include the upcoming “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” directed by Tommy Wirkola, “Date Night” and the “Night at the Museum” movies, both directed by Shawn Levy, “Tropic Thunder,” directed by Ben Stiller, “Stop-Loss,” directed by Kimberly Pierce, “The Holiday,” directed by Nancy Meyer, “Hitch,” directed by Andy Tennant, “21 Grams,” directed by Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu, “Ali,” directed by Michael Mann, “Coyote Ugly,” directed by David McNally, “Gone in 60 Seconds,” directed by Dominic Sena, “Enemy of the State,” directed by Ridley Scott, “The Phantom,” directed by Simon Wincer, “True Lies,” directed by James Cameron, “JFK,” directed by Oliver Stone and “Siesta,” directed by Mary Lambert.
Stewart has also been awarded the Bob Mackie Award For Design.
DANNY ELFMAN (Composer) has earned numerous honors, including a Grammy® Award, an Emmy® Award, three Golden Globe® nominations and four Academy Award® nominations. In 1998, he was honored with dual Oscar® nominations for Best Original Score for his work on Barry Sonnenfeld’s “Men in Black” and Gus Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting.” He received his third Oscar nomination for the score for Tim Burton’s acclaimed fantasy “Big Fish.” Elfman earned his most recent Oscar nomination for his score for the acclaimed biopic “Milk,” directed by Gus Van Sant, and his most recent Golden Globe nomination for his score to Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
In all, Elfman has composed more than 60 motion-picture scores for a variety of directors, including Tim Burton, Gus Van Sant, Sam Raimi, Shawn Levy, Ang Lee, Taylor Hackford, Paul Haggis, Errol Morris, Rob Marshall, Brett Ratner, Guillermo del Toro, Wayne Wang, Timur Bekmambetov, Barry Sonnenfeld, Brian De Palma, Peter Jackson, The Hughes Brothers, Richard Donner, Jon Amiel, Martin Brest and Warren Beatty.
Elfman has worked on films of every genre, including “Spider-Man (1&2),” “Batman” and “Batman Returns,” “Men in Black (1&2),” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Beetlejuice,” “To Die For,” “A Simple Plan,” “Mission: Impossible,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Family Man,” “Wanted,” “Taking Woodstock,” “Dick Tracy,” “Darkman” and “Chicago.”
For television, Elfman won an Emmy® Award for his theme for the hit series “Desperate Housewives” and was also Emmy-nominated for his theme for “The Simpsons,” which is the longest-running primetime comedy series ever.
A Los Angeles native, Elfman got his first experience in performing and composing at the age of 18 for the French theatrical troupe Le Grand Magic Circus. The following year, he collaborated with his brother, Richard, performing musical theater on the streets of California. Elfman then worked with a “surrealistic musical cabaret” for six years, using the outlet to explore multifarious musical genres.
For 17 years, he wrote and performed with rock band Oingo Boingo, producing such hits as “Weird Science” and “Dead Man’s Party.” Elfman’s first full-length orchestral commission, “Serenada Schizophrana,” premiered at Carnegie Hall. His first composition for ballet, “Rabbit and Rogue,” had its American Ballet Theatre (ABT) World Premiere at The Metropolitan Opera House at New York’s Lincoln Center in June 2008. The ballet was choreographed by Twyla Tharp.
Elfman’s most recent film credits include the smash hit “Alice in Wonderland,” Gus Van Sant’s upcoming “Restless,” as well as “Frankenweenie” and ”Dark Shadows.” His Cirque du Soleil show “Iris” opened this year as a permanent show at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater.