For his new Amazon anthology series Solos, which explores the depths of human connection through the lens of eight remote characters, “a lot of the inspiration for [it] came from things I’m not allowed to do as a writer,” creator David Weil tells Entertainment Weekly. “In film and television, you’re really not allowed to have a 30-minute monologue, though I would love to in every episode of something I write.” In fact, the writer/director/executive producer of the new show, who also created the series Hunters for Amazon, explains “I remember films by their monologues, I remember TV series by those great epic speeches, and so I’ve always been yearning to do a piece that was one person in one room.” The question though becomes, “How do you engage an audience for that long of a time, and take them on a journey when you don’t have explosions and act breaks?” Weil’s answer is “It’s really on you, the writer, to create a story that’s compelling, that’s narratively thrilling, and that’s emotionally deep.” To achieve those goals, it’s of immense help having Anne Hathaway, Nicole Beharie, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Anthony Mackie, Constance Wu, Dan Stevens, and Morgan Freeman anchoring these stories. “These are some of the most masterful actors [to] have been on screen ever,” states the creator. “And I think that what’s so exciting and consistent about each of them is that they always want to challenge themselves. They always want to do something different, and Solos, I think, presented an opportunity for them that was unlike anything they’ve done before.” With its seven episodes mixing in elements of science fiction and classical theater, Weil describes Solos as “something special for a world that really needs material that can feel cathartic, that can feel hopeful, that can feel joyous, and terrifying, and really take you through the gamut of emotions in this short 30-minute piece.” EW got the exclusive first look at Amazon’s Solos below, along with input from Weil on things he loves about each episode.
Helen Mirren as Peg: Alone on a space shuttle headed toward the farthest reaches of the universe, Mirren’s character has a lot of time—too much?—to think about how exactly she got to this moment. The piece is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, “who is not only a brilliant filmmaker but also really an observationalist, she’s a photographer, she’s an artist, she’s someone who has such deep empathy,” according to Weil. “What Helen did in her performance with the bat of an eye, or look off to the side, or emotion welling in her eyes, or picking at her fingernails—there are all these little, almost mosaic tiles that created this grand beautiful performance. And I think it requires a director like Sam, who is such an observationalist, to come in and be able to see those beautiful nuances and to help realize it.”
Helen Mirren has been among the pre-taped presenters at this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. She was featured in a series of brief interview clips throughout the show and presented the pivotal Outstanding Cast category to “The Trial of the Chicago 7”. Screencaptures and a portraits session have been added to the photo gallery. The segment of her presentation can be found in the video archive.
Join STC and like-minded fans of the Bard for Shakespeare Hour LIVE!, an ongoing tour through every corner of the Shakespeare universe. Artistic Director Simon Godwin and Resident Dramaturg Drew Lichtenberg gather online with special guests each week to discuss a new topic and allow audiences the opportunity to ask questions live. From the landmark films of Akira Kurosawa (Throne of Blood, Ran), Orson Welles (Othello, Chimes at Midnight), and Sir Laurence Olivier (Hamlet, Henry V) to more recent adaptations by Kenneth Branagh (Much Ado, As You Like It, Henry V), Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet), Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), and Julie Taymor (Titus, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Shakespeare’s plays have proven to be a fertile source of cinematic imaginings. Join Julie Taymor and more guests for an in-depth discussion of the process of translating Shakespeare’s language to the most visual of mediums.
Week 17, September 16: Shakespeare & Film
Guests: Dr. Peter Holland (McMeel Family Chair in Shakespeare Studies, University of Notre Dame; former Director of the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon); Dame Helen Mirren (Oscar, Emmy, Tony, BAFTA, and Olivier Award-winning actor); and Julie Taymor (Tony Award-winning director, The Lion King; Will Award honoree)
As I have been wondering if “The Duke”, a new film with Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent, has been finished in time before being put on hold due to the novel coronavirus (it started filming in November 2019), the Venice Film Festival has answered this question today, as “The Duke” will be screened out of competition at this year’s festival. In 1961, Kempton Bunton, a 60 year old taxi driver, stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend. An uplifting true story about a good man who set out to change the world and managed to save his marriage. It is the latest in a long line of films and TV shows recorded in the Bradford district over the last couple of years including the Downton Abbey movie, the latest series of Peaky Blinders and Agatha Christie’s Poirot. The Venice Film Festival runs from September 2 to September 12, the full line-up can be found here. “The Duke” is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 6 November 2020.
Variety and Lifetime have partnered on “Lifetime Presents Variety’s Power of Women: Frontline Heroes,” celebrating the women serving on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. The one-hour special premieres on June 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime and Facebook. Virtually hosted by “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts, the special will be simultaneously broadcast from Variety’s Facebook page, and cross-posted on Lifetime’s account at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET. As part of this event, viewers on Facebook will be able to contribute directly to the United Nations Foundation/World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Fund using the Facebook donate button in the livestream. Facebook has provided $10 million in matched funds for this ongoing effort. The special will also repeat on June 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime’s sister network LMN. The program will highlight the 2020 Power of Women honorees for their professional achievements and humanitarian efforts to various causes, including Cate Blanchett, two-time Oscar winner and executive producer of the miniseries “Mrs. America” (UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency); Patti LuPone, Tony and Grammy-winning star and actor in the new series “Hollywood” (Broadway Cares); and Janelle Monáe, eight-time Grammy-nominated singer and actress starring in the series “Homecoming” (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). Previous honorees Laverne Cox, Jennifer Garner, Tiffany Haddish, Gigi Hadid, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Nicole Kidman, Blake Lively, Helen Mirren and Natalie Portman will also pay tribute to these women through self-shot material. Additionally the program will include a special performance by Andra Day.