PART 1: MOST FASCINATING H'WOOD INTERVIEWS OF 2013

These are some of the interviewees who made us sit up and listen more closely than usual, think and laugh or simply inspired us to write. How often does one have the pleasure of hearing Meryl Streep sing in person?
In London where she was filming “Into the Woods,” the legend said, “I’m in a very dark place with violence, with ‘August: Osage County’ so one bleeds into the other (‘Into the Woods’). I keep thinking…,” and here she sang and paraphrased some of the lyrics of “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods.” READ MORE  BELOW...

ALSO: PART 2: Most fascinating H’wood interviews of 2013

Sofia Cuppola: “I have nice memories of the Philippines and its people. My nanny, who raised me, was Filipino. It was such a warm culture, and a beautiful place. I’d love to go back.” Imagine, director Sofia Coppola still remembers how to sing the “Lupang Hinirang” (the Philippine national anthem).

Michael Bubble: “Thank God for Filipinos! Salamat!” Michael Bublé exclaimed, then told me in Los Angeles why he was grateful to Filipinos. Michael continues to feel the love when he encounters Filipinos around the world. “I don’t know how you guys do it—you’re everywhere,” he quipped. I told him that in fact, there’s a term for it: the Filipino diaspora.
By Ruben Nepales, PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER


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PART 1: Most fascinating H’wood interviews of 2013


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Meryl Streep’s fervent wish is to have the luxury of sleeping for 12 hours.

LOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 30, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Ruben V. Nepales - These are some of the interviewees who made us sit up and listen more closely than usual, think and laugh or simply inspired us to write.

Meryl Streep

How often does one have the pleasure of hearing Meryl Streep sing in person?

In London where she was filming “Into the Woods,” the legend said, “I’m in a very dark place with violence, with ‘August: Osage County’ so one bleeds into the other (‘Into the Woods’). I keep thinking…,” and here she sang and paraphrased some of the lyrics of “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods.”

“Careful of what you say, children will listen because that’s the story of ‘August.’ Careful of what you do, children will see and learn.”

Meryl admitted that at first she was “not eager to do this [vicious mother] part” in “August.”

“The reason I did was [that] a very dear friend said to me, ‘You had a great mother. She gave you your appetite for experience, curiosity, sense of humor. Your mother sang in the kitchen; mine hit me. Your mother made you feel you could do anything; mine made me feel like I couldn’t do anything. You have to do this for me and for all the girls like me who had bad mothers, who made it in spite of that, who got out, and for all the ones who didn’t, and to let them know it’s okay to leave that behind.’”

Asked what her fervent wish was these days, Meryl said, laughing, “Sleep for 12 hours.”

Robert Lopez

Robert Lopez, Filipino-American cocreator of “The Book of Mormon” and “Avenue Q,” teamed up with his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez to create instant Disney classic songs for Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell and others in Disney’s new animated film, “Frozen.”

The couple earned a Golden Globe best song nod for “Let It Go,” sung by Idina.

Christian Bale gave ‘Bat’ advice. “My father (Frank), who was part-Filipino, was born in a ship on the way to the United States from Manila,” Robert said. It was reportedly the last GI boat that left Manila right after World War II.

Robert scurried to the nearby piano several times during our interview. As he played, Kristen sang. They broke into these brief, spontaneous musical snippets throughout the interview.

Christian Bale

Asked what advice he would give Ben Affleck, who is next wearing the Batsuit, cowl, cape and all, Christian Bale cracked, “[Make sure you are] able to piss by yourself… and turn your head. Beyond that, I am in no position to give anybody advice.”

Christian, who plays Moses in Ridley Scott’s “Exodus,” on playing Jesus in the 1999 TV movie “Mary, Mother of Jesus”: “

[The] Jesus [role] came after I finished playing Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’ and my house was getting repossessed. Jesus came to me and said, ‘If you play this role, then you can save your house.’ So I did. Now, I am in different circumstances with Ridley.”

On whether his wife Sibi Blazic tries to change some of his habits, Christian remarked, “Oh yeah you have to, don’t you? I mean, some things you do willingly and for other things you are given an ultimatum. So you drink more whiskey.”


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Mark Wahlberg got swarmed by Filipino female fans in Hong Kong.

Mark Wahlberg

“So I came in and I had the back row (of St. Joseph’s church in Hong Kong). I was sitting by myself and all of a sudden, all these women started sitting [next to] me, squishing in and hanging off the side of the pew. I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ Then I realized it was probably 98 percent women in the church. They were all Filipinos and they all knew that I knew Manny Pacquiao. I was like, I’m a hero now; I’m well-connected!”

Jared Leto

Asked what helped him give a stunning performance as Rayon, a transsexual in “Dallas Buyers Club,” Jared answered: “I think it was a combination of things—script, role, fellow cast members, and there was some magic there. But you know what the most important thing was? Good old-fashioned, hard fu*king work. That’s what does it. It’s elbow grease, digging in, working, working and working some more. That’s how you get that. I am a big believer in the reality and a dream is just work. I am a worker; that’s what I do.”


Jared Leto: “I am a very beautiful woman, unlike Dustin Hoffman (in ‘Tootsie’).”

Complimented that he made one pretty woman, Jared broke into a wide grin and remarked, “Well, thank you very much! I am a very beautiful woman, unlike Dustin Hoffman (in ‘Tootsie’). He had nice calves but I think my ankles put him to shame.”

Jared conceded that there were “really nice” aspects about being a woman on the set. “People treated me very well. It was always interesting. It was always the biggest, toughest, strongest teamster who was a little bit flirty. He wanted to hold my hand when I got out of the van and said, ‘Right this way, ma’am.’ People really forgot it was me because I was in character the whole time. It was incredible.”

Standing up and then walking like a woman, he continued, “A couple of times, I would walk down and see a teamster walk by, checking me out.” (He demonstrated this.) “It was great.”

Judi Dench
“In my eyes, I’m 43, very tall with blonde hair and long legs.”


John Williams
When we asked the living music legend for at least three film scores that he’d like to be remembered for, one of his picks was a surprise.


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John Williams talked about past works.

“I always remember certain passages in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ that I particularly enjoy playing with orchestras, away from film, so that may be indicative of something.”

He added, “And several movements of ‘Star Wars’ I also continue to have interest in as a performer. I did a television version of ‘Jane Eyre’ years ago (1970), directed by Delbert Mann. I wrote that new score in London many years ago. I have continued to enjoy revisiting that. So, in my case, that’s been a good measure of what I like that I have done in the past. If I don’t pick it out of the library and don’t want to perform it, it means that I don’t particularly want to return to it.”

T Bone Burnett
As an award-winning musician, songwriter and producer, T Bone Burnett has worked with the Who’s Who in music’s various genres—from Bob Dylan, Elton John, Tony Bennett, Robert Plant, Justin Timberlake to Marcus Mumford. T Bone’s big break came when he played guitar in Bob Dylan’s legendary Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. “What did Dylan take from me?” T Bone repeated aloud a question during an interview at New York’s The London Hotel. “Nothing, I think. I took almost everything from Dylan, I have to say.”


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T Bone Burnett: “I’m lucky I can work.”

The man who metamorphosed from a financially broke kid sleeping on couches into a music legend was doing his best to give back. For one, he made sure to spotlight emerging young artists in the NY concert tribute to the Coens’ excellent “Inside Llewyn Davis” (he is the film’s music producer).

T Bone said, “In the embattled world of music right now, so much of my time is spent holding the door open for the people that are coming after me like these kids last night (from that NY show). I’m lucky I can still work. A lot of people can’t work. They’re trying not to pay people anymore. It’s tough out there, so I’m lucky. Those kids who were on that stage last night—they needed to be heard so anything I could do [to help them I would]…”

On listening to Oscar Isaac, Golden Globe-nominated for “Inside…,” sing and play guitar live for the first time: “I saw this tape of Oscar and I thought, wait, he was actually good. So he came in, he played and he did it. He did the same thing that Don Everly (T Bone produced the Everly Brothers’ ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ single) did …

“Oscar played ‘So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad),’ in a living room. It broke my heart. Everybody started crying. That was what Oscar did. He just came in and broke your heart. That’s what that’s supposed to be. These ‘bad’ musician people—that’s what they do—they go around and break people’s hearts.”

Julian Assange


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Julian Assange opened up about fears.

In a world press conference via Skype from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been holed up since June 19 last year, controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said, “I have my heart and soul in this work that I am doing.”

Then he opened up about fears for his family. He has a son and a daughter. He is separated from his wife, Teresa. “Of course, I have a family and that situation is difficult. I have a family who had to move and change their names and who have been the subject of threats, of US right wing blogs calling for my son, for example, to be killed to get at me. We take security precautions to deal with it. I’m scared about it but we have to stand.”

Sthanlee B. Mirador

Sthanlee is a pioneering Filipino-American photographer in Hollywood. You’ve probably seen Sthanlee’s photos of the biggest Hollywood celebrities on the covers of popular magazines, from People to US Weekly; in the inside pages of Rolling Stone and InStyle; or on such TV shows as “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood.” Sthanlee has been covering major red carpet events for 17 years now.


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Sthanlee Mirador: “Patience is key.” file photo

On the challenges and tough conditions that the public doesn’t see when he takes red-carpet photos: “It’s not as glamorous as it seems. I’d say photographers are treated poorly at events. The writers and video folks are always treated well. Patience is key to what we do in this business. There’s a lot of waiting for celebrities to arrive, or for an event to start.”

Who are the most challenging to shoot and why? “Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron, to name two. Julia tops my list. For me, she just doesn’t pose well. You can tell she doesn’t like to be on the red carpet. She hardly gives you eye contact and she’s always in a hurry. I can say the same of other female talents. You’ve been there for hours waiting for them, and they rush on the carpet.”

(Continuedbelow)
E-mail the columnist at rvnepales_5585@yahoo.com. Follow him at twitter.com/nepalesruben.
PHOTOS BY RUBEN NEPALES

PART 2: Most fascinating H’wood interviews of 2013
By Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer December 26, 2013 | 5:31 pm

LOS ANGELES—Here’s part two of our list of interviewees who engaged us, and kept us from staring at the ceiling or looking at our watch:


Quentin Tarantino

“Cinemanila!,” Quentin Tarantino exclaimed in our recent encounter. “That was fun!” He was, of course, referring to the film festival in the Philippines that honored him in 2007.

What’s his bedroom and house like? “My house is full of accoutrements. But, the bedroom is kept clear of a lot of that. It’s the most uncluttered place. Off this room is my record room.

“It looks like a used record store, where records are filed in bins, into categories. That’s where I play my music and when I’m thinking about the movie I’m working on, working things out in my head.”

Anthony Hopkins

“I’ve had a wonderful life,” said the man who played US presidents Richard Nixon and John Quincy Adams, Pablo Picasso, Adolf Hitler and Alfred Hitchcock. “I’m happy to be alive. I would hate to be almost 76 and still working. I was asked, ‘Why do you take these parts?’ I said, ‘Well, it beats working.’ When I meet young actors, and they say, ‘What is your advice?’ I say, ‘Keep working.’”

He recalled his student days: “I was pathetic. I sat in the back of the classroom my whole school life. I didn’t know what they were talking about. But, it was a great gift because, in the end, I was so angry and enraged.

“I think in a way I made a certain choice. I thought, I will get my revenge. I will become rich and famous.” With a soft chuckle, he added, “Of course, they’re all dead now and I’m still here. So, there’s nobody around to revenge on.”

Sofia Coppola


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Sofia Coppola: Still remembers how to sing “Lupang Hinirang.” Photo by Ruben V. Nepales

Imagine, director Sofia Coppola still remembers how to sing the “Lupang Hinirang” (the Philippine national anthem).

We were floored when Sofia, speaking in her usual quiet manner, replied to our question on what she remembers about the Philippines when she and her family were there for the “Apocalypse Now” shoot: “I know the national anthem. I could sing it, but I won’t.”

“I have nice memories of the Philippines and its people. My nanny, who raised me, was Filipino. It was such a warm culture, and a beautiful place. I’d love to go back.”

Colin Farrell


Farrel. His Angelman syndrome-stricken 10-year-old son is a constant source of inspiration and admiration. Photo by Ruben V. Nepales

On his sons—James, 10, who has Angelman syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder that impairs speech and motor skills, and Henry, 4: “James is one of the two greatest things that ever happened to me. There’s something a bit different when your child is born with a certain level of adversity. There’s a deep sense of not only love but also of respect.

“Yet, James’ condition is, as far as conditions go, really good. He has a happy life. He works really hard. A child’s first steps are seminal moments. If you’re told that there’s a chance your child will never walk those first steps, they take on a whole, new meaning. They go into another realm. It’s heartbreaking. So, James is a constant source of inspiration and admiration.”

Colin was all smiles, too, as he talked about his younger son. “Henry is completely different and so much fun,” he said. “I adore him just the same, and yet in different ways.”

The kids are also the reason that he hopes to slow down soon. “By the time I’m 45, I don’t want to be doing two or three films a year,” Colin declared. “I prefer to be at home with my kids.”

Michael Bubble



“Thank God for Filipinos! Salamat!” Michael Bublé exclaimed, then told me in Los Angeles why he was grateful to Filipinos.

Michael continues to feel the love when he encounters Filipinos around the world. “I don’t know how you guys do it—you’re everywhere,” he quipped. I told him that in fact, there’s a term for it: the Filipino diaspora.

The latest twist, he said, is that he now has Filipinos in his family. He had hired Filipino nurses for his grandparents, who are frail in health. “The nurses live with us. They’re very sweet.”

Bryan Cranston

I told Bryan what his “Breaking Bad” costar, Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman), told me earlier in this interview in New Mexico.

“No one knows this,” Aaron said, relaxing with a drink after a day’s shoot, “but Bryan never wears pants in close-up shots.

He’s very proud of what is happening down there, and he thinks it is intimidating for all of us, in a loving way. From the belly down, he has nothing on.”

Bryan’s deadpan reaction: “First of all, never believe what Aaron Paul says. I cannot deny or confess that it is true.” But, he added: “There are times when levity is helpful to a group of people. We work long hours. Actors get tired; levity breaks the tension, so I look for opportunities. Plus, I love to have a good time.”


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