Tag Archives: daniel craig

Interview: Nerdy Questions for THE PENNY PINCHERS CLUB’s Sarah Strohmeyer

Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Author Sarah Strohmeyer must have a crystal ball. When she started this book, our 401(k) hadn’t been reduced to 201(k). But now the title of her new novel, The Penny Pinchers Club, could apply to our nation as a whole, not just the support group that Strohmeyer’s protagonist joins.

Kat, a forty-something New Jersey mom and shopaholic, finds evidence that her husband, Griff, is preparing to leave her for his research assistant. Instead of throwing him out or driving off in a huff, Kat must pretend she doesn’t know anything and bide her time until she saves enough money to live on her own. She joins a group of eccentric, budget-conscious people to help her accomplish this goal.

pp clubIn the midst of all the coupon clipping and Dumpster diving, Kat’s old boyfriend resurfaces, someone who conveniently has loads of cash. Many years ago, he had proposed to her but she turned him down for Griff, choosing the hot, romantic guy over the nice, stable one. A couple of decades later with her marriage on the brink of collapse, Kat wonders if she made the right choice.

This synopsis doesn’t do justice to Strohmeyer’s witty prose and endearing characters. It’s a fast, sexy read that surprises just when you think you know where it’s headed. It also gives you easy tips on how to save money and who can’t use that?

I’ve always enjoyed Strohmeyer’s zesty writing from the Bubbles Yablonsky series and now that I’ve had a chance to do an e-mail interview with her, I like her even more (she’s a Colin Firth and Daniel Craig fan!). Read her answers to my nerdy questions and tell me you don’t want to invite her to dinner and have her dog drive her over.

PCN: If you had to start a club to pinch something else besides pennies, what would that be?

Colin Firth

Colin Firth, Photo: Jim Wright

Sarah Strohmeyer: Colin Firth. Or maybe Daniel Craig. Nah, he’s too wiry. Definitely Colin. More to pinch.

PCN: Ooh, I’ll take both. One for each hand, please. What’s the one thing you will never give up, no matter how cash-strapped you get?

SS: Books. Wine. Dark chocolate with cherries. Though not necessarily in that order.

PCN: Kat chose to marry a man she was crazy about over one who had lots of money. What’s the most romantic but cheapest date you’ve ever had?

SS: This is horribly corny and I’m embarrassed to admit it—walking hand in hand as a light snow fell on a quiet December night 21 years ago, stopping to kiss under a tree as my future husband asked me to be his wife.

PCN: That is romantic but neither cheap nor corny. What’s cheap is when Kat goes Dumpster diving with her friend for groceries and an antique chair. What would you Dumpster dive for?

SS: Colin Firth. No, wait. He can’t be the answer to EVERYTHING.

PCN: Sure he can!

SS: I would Dumpster dive for more talent. And maybe if I accidentally threw out my engagement ring. When my brother was 13, we had to comb a landfill on Cape Cod for his retainer that he “accidentally” tossed in the trash. Ninety-degree heat. Stinking lobster shells. Seagulls threatening to pick out our brains. Fun times. (And, no, we did NOT find the retainer.)

PCN: Um, maybe that’s a good thing? One of the characters in the book turned out to be worth millions but struggling with the burden. What would you do with that kind of money? Would you still write if you didn’t have to work anymore?

Strohmeyer's dog, Fred

Strohmeyer's dog, Fred

SS: I would still write but I wouldn’t care if I sold. (Bliss!) I’d like to say I’d use the money to make sure no child anywhere went hungry at any time, but I think that’s a pipe dream. In truth, I’d buy a house I just saw in the New York Times that’s built over a stream in a California forest. Then I’d read, write, cook, hang with my family and play with my dogs. Kind of like my life now, except the $2 million crib.

PCN: I love your list of DOs and DON’Ts for saving money at the end of the book, which included a recipe for making your own mildew-remover. Any cheap, easy dinner recipes you’d like to share, too?

SS: Tortilla casserole:

1 package corn tortillas

2 cans black beans (or be a Penny Pincher and pressure cook your own)

1 large jar salsa

3 Tbs cilantro

8 oz cheddar cheese


Heat oven to 350. Combine drained beans, salsa, cilantro in saucepan. Heat on low and stir until warm and flavors meld. Grate cheese.

In a casserole dish, spoon some of the salsa sauce on the bottom, cover with two or three tortillas, 1/3 sauce, 1/3 cheese.

Then another layer of tortillas, sauce, cheese and repeat, topping with cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 1/2 hour. Remove foil and broil for a few minutes until cheese bubbles.

Let sit five minutes, cut and serve. Reheats well. Serves tons of people. Can be made ahead of time easily and is great for weekday dinners. Plus, it provides complex proteins and is suitable for vegetarians. (My son’s one—grrr.)

Serve with a green salad. I usually make this on days when my son has a game and then put it in a timed oven so it’s ready when we get home.

PCN: I have no immediate plans to invite tons of people over so that will feed me for a week. Thank you. Next question: It’s said that the best things in life are free. What are some of the best things in your life right now?

Strohmeyer's backyard

Strohmeyer's backyard

SS: Generic antidepressants. Not free, but cheap. Best things are my husband and kids (though my 18-year-old daughter’s a bit of a trial). The view of the mountains out my back door. Running around the dirt roads in my neighborhood. My basset hound, Fred, aka Mr. Bigglesworth. My friends and books. The hat I’m knitting. The fact that my cholesterol is 177 and I feel healthy and alive.

PCN: What would you tell someone who said he/she’s on a budget right now and can’t afford your book?

SS: “I’m sorry.” Then I’d suggest the library, a Penny Pincher haven.

The Nerdy Hot 10 List

Maxim released its annual Hot 100 List today, focusing on women with exceptional beauty and bodacious bods. (House‘s Olivia Wilde got the top spot.)

Looking at some of the names, I thought the chosen women are indeed gorgeous but physical perfection is only one way to judge hotness. Year in and year out, the same people seem to end up on these lists.

So I decided to release my own Nerdy Hot 10 List, with male celebs who are sexy not because of their ripped bodies (though some might have them), but because of something a little imperfect, goofy, or nerdy about them. So here’s my list, in no particular order, and the reasons why these guys made the cut.


1. Colin Firth. Firth is the epitome of the awkward man who always gets tongue-tied around a pretty girl. But that awkwardness is what makes him so endearing, as evidenced by the hilarious scene in Love, Actually when he publicly proclaims his love in halting, butchered Portuguese to the woman of his affection. And remember those dreadful reindeer sweaters he sported in the Bridget Jones movies? He’s hot for having the courage and good humor to wear them.


2. Hugh Laurie. He often appears slovenly and unshaven on House and behaves like an ass. But then you hear him play piano, sing a funny ditty on a talk show or give a humorous, humble acceptance speech for an award and all is forgiven.


3. Paul Rudd. He’s most famous for doing bawdy comedies as part of the Judd Apatow gang; his blue eyes and boyish charm allow him to get away with all the mischief. But he can also do Shakespeare (I saw him do Twelfth Night in a Lincoln Center production), write scripts, sing, produce and all these hidden talents add up to one sexy guy.


4. Robert Downey Jr. The first time I saw him was in The Pick-Up Artist, where he played a pretty geeky guy trying to hit on Molly Ringwald . What a difference twenty years make. Despite all his legal troubles and drug abuse, he’s somehow managed to salvage his quick wit, intelligence and ultra-sized talent. You may be well aware of his acting prowess but have you ever heard him sing? Forget about it. He’s got a voice that can melt inhibitions.


5. James McAvoy. He may not be the tallest, most muscular or dashing man but oh, is he romantic. Check out those intense blue eyes. When he looks at his leading actresses in movies like Starter for 10 and Atonement, he really looks at them, as if they’re the most exquisite creatures he’s ever seen. And we the audience can almost feel him gazing right through the screen into our own eyes.


6. Jon Hamm. I tried watching one episode of Mad Men and Hamm did nothing for me as Don Draper, though he was certainly groomed and dressed well. Then I saw him on 30 Rock as Tina Fey’s hapless boyfriend and developed a crush immediately. Hamm was ridiculously funny as the guy who was so beautiful, no one would tell him the truth about anything. He played tennis atrociously but thought he was awesome, rode a motorcycle like a drunk but thought he was cool and was clueless about the correct usage of the word “ironic.” I think Fey is a comedy genius and for Hamm to keep pace with her is sizzling hot.


7. James Franco. He’s not that interesting as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies but when he’s goofy, like in Pineapple Express and funnyordie.com videos, he gets my sexy stamp. Plus, he gets extra points for being a nerdy academic, with an English degree from UCLA and working towards graduate degrees in creative writing and film at Columbia and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, respectively.

bret mckenzie

8. Bret McKenzie. As half of Flight of the Conchords, he doesn’t have much luck in his career or with the ladies on the show. But he, along with Jemaine Clement, makes me laugh hard with brilliant, kooky songs and their hilarious, clever lyrics. I don’t get starstruck much but if I ever meet him, I’d be completely tongue-tied and that’s a true sign of hotness in my book.


9. Daniel Craig. Yeah, he beefed up for Bond and looks great in a tux but before that, he played a scrappy drug dealer in Layer Cake, a murderer in Infamous and an unsympathetic Ted Hughes in Sylvia. His face isn’t conventionally pretty, with rough features that look like he’s been in a few brawls, but I’ll take him over the typical Calvin Klein model any day.


10. Brad Pitt. I swear he’s not on this list for the obvious reasons because, frankly, I find him rather bland when he plays heroes and pretty boys on screen. But he rocks my socks when he plays crazy like in Twelve Monkeys or a doofus like in Burn After Reading. A funny man who also happens to look like Pitt? Smokin’.

What do you think? Who else should be on this list? Wanna see who’s on my Nerdy Hot 10 List—Female Edition? Click here.

2009 Oscars Fashion Round-Up

There were a lot of beautiful dresses tonight so it’s hard to pick a best. Even the “bad” ones weren’t horrible. But Nerdies need to be given out so here goes:

Best Dressed—Female: (Tie) Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei. I usually don’t like “no-color” dresses like beige or silver but these two dresses were magnificent.

Hathaway’s Armani Prive’ looked like a fluid, light-emitting column of tiny mirrors, making Hathaway the fairest of them all.

Actress Anne Hathaway arrives at the 81st Annual Academy Awards

I’d never seen such intricate pleating like on the skirt and train of Tomei’s Versace gown.


Best Color: Natalie Portman’s pink dress. The color was so soft yet striking in a theater full of neutral colors. Alicia Keys’ dress was of a similar color and style but I liked Portman’s just a little more because it had more interesting tucking and details in the bodice.


Best Dressed Male: Daniel Craig. He ain’t just Bond on screen. He looked lethal-weapon sharp on the red carpet, too.

Actor Daniel Craig (R) and Satsuki Mitchell arrives at the 81st

Most Improved from Previous Award Shows This Year: Robert Downey Jr. He looked like a bum at the SAG Awards, chewing gum, sporting sneakers and dirty hair. Look at him here. Damn! Somebody got a facial and full makeover.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. and guest arrive at the 81st Annual Acad

Oldest Gown: Penelope Cruz. Her 60-year-old vintage Balmain was older than most people there. It’s held up remarkably well, though, and makes Cruz look like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

Actress Penelope Cruz arrives at the 81st Annual Academy Awards

Best Jewelry: Angelina Jolie. I couldn’t take my eyes off her green dangling earrings and ginormous cocktail ring. I don’t know why she looks so pissed here, though.


Most Resembling a Bridesmaid Dress: Amanda Seyfried. C’mon, doesn’t this look like it escaped from 27 Dresses?

Actress Amanda Seyfried arrives at the 81st Annual Academy Award

Most Unfortunate Bow Placement: Tilda Swinton. The top half’s draping is pretty, but look where the giant ruffle is on her skirt. Unless you’re Cher circa 1987, you should never wear a gown that calls attention to your crotch to the Oscars.

Actress Tilda Swinton arrives at the 81st Annual Academy Awards

Most Age-Inappropriate Dress: Sophia Loren. She’s still hot but what’s with all the ruffles? Twenty-four-year-old Freida Pinto may have been able to pull it off but it’s all wrong for Ms. Loren. She should take style lessons from Helen Mirren on how to look sophisticated and hot.

Actress Sophia Loren arrives at the 81st Annual Academy Awards h

Baggiest Mess: Jessica Biel. She looks like someone draped a towel down the front of her dress. She could hide a couple of the Slumdog kids under there.Actress Jessica Biel arrives at the 81st Annual Academy Awards h

Who were your favorites? Who looked like they made their own clothes? Discuss!

81st Academy Awards — “Nerdies” for Best & Worst

Overall, a fun show. I was psyched I got all except two of my predictions right (missed on Best Sound Editing and Best Foreign Film). If you want just a list of winners, click here. Otherwise, read on for my awarding of the Nerdies for the show’s highlights:

hjackman_090222_kwinter_84979541Tackiest Self Promotion: I love Hugh Jackman and he did a fun, energetic job of hosting. I was smiling along as he performed his opening musical medley about nominated films. Sticking his head through the different Benjamin Button holes was game. But then he put on wrestling arm pads and inexplicably ended the number with the declaration: “I am Wolverine!” Huh? What does that have to do with anything? I know his movie is coming out May 1 but this was about last year’s nominated films and the mention was out of place. Wolverine is a Fox movie and ABC is owned by Disney so Jackman can’t even claim corporate pressure for the plug.

Most Blatant Lie: Jackman said to Mickey Rourke in the audience, “You look great.” Rourke had greasy hair and a silver tooth and looked like he hadn’t bathed in a week.

Luckiest First-Time Nominees: Viola Davis and Anne Hathaway. This year, producers had five previous winners from each acting category come out to crown the newest members of their club. Viola Davis had Eva Marie Saint pay tribute to her and Anne Hathaway had Shirley MacLaine gush about her talents. I would’ve soiled my dress if I were them. Hathaway looked as if she could barely contain herself, like a princess living out a fairy tale at Hollywood’s biggest ball.

pcruz-w-oscarBest Use for My High School Spanish: Many years ago, I took Espanol in school, thinking it would come in handy at some point in life. Finally, that moment arrived. When Penelope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress, the last part of her speech was in Spanish. My translating skills are a bit rusty but she said something like: “All the faithful people of Spain are sharing this moment with me right now and feel that this is also theirs, so I dedicate it to them. To all the actors from my country, thank you very much.”

smartin_tfey_090222_kwinter_84979513Funniest Presenting Duo: Steve Martin and Tina Fey, reading from a script as they made their entrance to present Best Original and Adapted Screenplay. Their comedic timing was perfect and they complimented each other well. Fey looked really pretty for a change (from her usual dull brown or black dresses), wearing a glittering silver gown showing off her curves.

Unfunniest Presenters Who Were Supposed to be Funny: Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black. Seriously, did you laugh even once? Angelina Jolie seemed to enjoy Black’s antics, though I suspect there was a different reason they  kept cutting to her and Brad while Black and Aniston were on stage.  

dlblackFirst Tearjerking Speech: Let me preface by saying these award shows never make me cry. I’m usually entertained and excited when my favorites win but cry? Never! Well, Dustin Lance Black changed that when he won for Best Original Screenplay. That adorable boy stood up there (he looked 19!), opened his heart to a billion watchers and spoke with such emotion and sincerity about the obstacles he’s encountered as a gay person that my eyes got wet. When he thanked his mom for loving him “even when there was pressure not to,” I thought, “How can anyone not love this boy?!” The amazing feat is he invoked religion and politics in his speech but managed to avoid grandstanding because he came from such a painful, personal place. Even if you haven’t seen Milk, that speech alone should give you an idea why he won a writing Oscar.

Most Irrelevant Thank You: When the Japanese Kunio Kato won Best Animated Short for La Maison en Petits Cubes, he started out succinctly thanking a bunch of people. It was a laundry list that wasn’t too exciting (granted, his English was limited). But then he ended his speech with, “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.” Hilarious. Who knew a cheesy Styx song would be referenced at the Oscars?

dc-sjpBest Advertisement for Makeup Artists: Daniel Craig. The dapper Bond star, who made a rare appearance at an awards show, presented Best Makeup (as well as Art Direction and Costume) with Sarah Jessica Parker. After she said, “We don’t have to tell you what a makeup artist does,” Craig quipped, “Just look at us.” Oh, yes, baby, I was looking at you all right. And drooling.

b-stiller-portmanParody That Came Too Late: Ben Stiller doing Joaquin Phoenix. When Stiller came out with Natalie Portman to present the Best Cinematography award, he sported the Unabomber beard Phoenix wore when he made his puzzling Letterman appearance recently. Stiller proceeded to act confused and incoherent, wandering around the stage. Unfortunately, this would’ve been a lot of funnier if he hadn’t been beaten to the punch by Frank Coraci presenting at the Independent Spirit Awards the day before. Click here to see the much funnier indie version.

phillip-petitBiggest Attention Whore: Phillip Petit, the subject of Best Documentary winner, Man on Wire. In the film, he was already desperate for attention (part of the reason why he walked a tight rope between the Twin Towers in 1974). Tonight, he did a magic trick, making a coin disappear, and balanced the Oscar on his chin, all within seconds at the podium. He did everything he could to keep the camera on him, like Tatiana on American Idol singing everything she could think of during Hollywood week so she wouldn’t be kicked off. 

Best Multi-Tasker: A.R. Rahman. Dude, he came out to sing “O Saya” and “Jai Ho” from Slumdog after he’d just won the Best Score award. That’s like having John Williams come out to sing along to his Star Wars theme. (“Star wars…Nothing but star wars…”)

Second Tearjerking Speech: Wrapping up his Best Song acceptance speech for “Jai Ho,” Rahman said, “All my life I’ve had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I’m here.” For some reason, that kicked me right in the gut and tears came up. It’s so simple yet profound. Why can’t the rest of the world figure that out?

So, what were the highlights for you? Do you want Hugh back next year? How’d you do in the Oscar pool? Post in the comments!

Production Begins on Tintin Movie!

tintinThis is probably the most exciting movie news I’ve heard in a long time. How long? About thirty years.

I grew up reading Tintin in Vietnam, where the books had been translated into Vietnamese. Much to my chagrin, I had to leave them all (and everything else) behind when I left home. Luckily, they were easy to find in the States and I got to read them all over again in English. I’m such a fanatic that, besides the books, I also have Tintin glasses, mugs, T-shirts and calendars. I want to go to Belgium just to see all things Herge- and Tintin-related.

I’ve always thought the exotic adventures would make great movies. There was an animated series in the ’90s but Tintin’s voice was too high for me so I couldn’t really watch. Then, a few years ago, I heard Steven Spielberg was teaming up with Peter Jackson to produce and direct a trilogy of Tintin films.

I was so excited I almost wet myself. These are two of the best directors working today. I waited with bated breath to see who would be cast as the boy reporter and was happy to hear it was Thomas Sangster, a fine young actor probably best known as Liam Neeson’s son in Love Actually.

jamiebellBut then the budget issues and delays happened and Sangster had to bow out and I wondered if the projects would ever happen. Well, Variety reported yesterday that not only has the first movie, titled The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, started production in L.A. with Spielberg at the helm, Jamie Bell has inherited the role of Tintin and Daniel Craig will be the villainous pirate Red Rackham!

All my friends know I have a serious jones for Craig so his joining the franchise is almost more than I can bear. And I’ve liked Bell since Billy Elliott (and most recently in Defiance, with Craig) so I think he’s a good choice. At first, I felt he might be a little too tough but then I remembered Tintin got into quite a few fistfights and knows his way around a gun so perhaps not. The important thing is, Bell is a fine actor.

andy_serkis1The awesomeness doesn’t stop there. Andy Serkis, who’s so talented he can play anyone or anything, had previously been announced as Captain Haddock and the hilarious duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) will be the bumbling Thompson and Thomson, respectively. This is all very good but I’m also anxious to see who gets cast as Snowy!

Peter Jackson is set to direct the second movie while Guillermo Del Toro and James Cameron are rumored as possible candidates for the third if the first two make money. If I had to make up a dream list of directors, I couldn’t have come up with better ones. Pan’s Labyrinth was mind-blowing, as was Titanic. Let’s hope Spielberg’s and Jackson’s films do well enough so that we get that third installment. I know I’ll be doing my part in shelling out money at the box office.

Any other Tintin fans out there? How do you feel about Jamie Bell as Tintin and the rest of the cast?

Conversation with Cast and Director of DEFIANCE


I saw Defiance (opening wide January 16) about two months ago and attended a Q & A with stars Daniel Craig (hottie alert—I could see his intense blue eyes from twenty rows back), Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos and director Ed Zwick. It was a really interesting session, with anecdotes about the family depicted in the film, so I thought I’d post some of the highlights here.

2008_defiance_018First, let me say I liked the movie. It’s based on a non-fiction book by Nechama Tec called Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, about Jews hiding and fighting Nazis in the Belarusian woods, led by the two oldest Bielski brothers, Tuvia (Craig) and Zus (Schreiber). The movie practically gave me post-traumatic stress disorder because the atmosphere Zwick created was so tense. He never relented in keeping the threat of danger clear and present. Even when people were just sitting around eating soup, I was sure Nazis were going to burst through the trees shooting any minute.

When the attacks do come, they’re spectacularly staged, with in-your-face camera work that puts you right in the action (hence, the PTSD). The story is eye-opening and the cast is solid but what keeps me from deeming this movie great is the sense I’ve seen some of it before. A scene of violence intercut with a wedding was reminiscent of a scene in The Godfather where a massacre and baptism took place simultaneously. Some of the fighting sequences, including one in which the sound shuts down because one of the characters goes temporarily deaf after a loud explosion, reminded me of Saving Private Ryan and Zwick’s own Glory. There’s a savage beating with rocks by natives gone mad that made me think of Lord of the Flies.

So, it’s not a perfect film but still very good and worth seeing, if for no other reason than to educate yourself a little about the Bielski brothers, who apparently never sought recognition for what they did. Here’s what Zwick and the cast had to say about it all at the Q & A, moderated by veteran movie reviewer Pete Hammond (this isn’t verbatim—just the highlights):

Hammond asked Zwick about the project’s origins. Zwick said, “Twelve years ago, we optioned the book. It led us to the family and they gave us tapes of their fathers recorded before they died…There’s a whole world that’s unexplored. You hear about the idea of passivity” of the Jews but not about them fighting back.

Hammond asked Craig what he thought when he was offered a character that’s “not likable.”

Defiance_KB_102307_11485.CR2“I was surprised. I’d never heard the story,” Craig said. He explained how he and Zwick had been talking about working together for five or six years and once he explored the Bielskis’ story, he felt this was the right project.

Hammond asked if he met the family.

“[The grandchilren] came to the set, very much alive and brash…”

“What did you learn from them?” Hammond asked.

“They liked to drink vodka,” Craig said.

“I found them very intimidating. They were big,” Schreiber chimed in.

“Your character was more prone to violence,” Hammond said to Schreiber. “How did you develop the character?”

“[Zwick] wanted us to speak Russian in the film. He hired a Russian linguist. It was learning Russian that got me into character. Something about saying, ‘Twice I hit you and you shit’ in Russian summed it up for me. There’s something about the language that’s very dominant, a…history of suffering built into it.”

Hammond then asked Davalos, who played Lilka, Tuvia’s love interest, if she talked with Craig to develop their relationship.


“As soon as I met him,” Davalos said, then addressed Craig, “you put me at ease and I was very grateful.” She turned back to Hammond, “This is a story about living; love is a big part of it. Love takes you out of reality for the moment.”

“The first scene, we had to kiss,” Craig said. “I agree with Alexa that without love…these people had to fall in love [or else] there’s no existence.”

“Eighteen surviving members [of the group who hid in the woods] went to the premiere,” Zwick said. “There were 800 children, grandchildren and family members in the theater. They never thought their story would be told.”

2008_defiance_006Hammond addressed Bell, who played another brother, Asael. “How did you bond with the guys?”

“They were a pain in the arse, both of them,” Bell said, to audience laughter. “I came from a family of women so having two elderly brothers…”

Craig interrupted. “Elderly?!” The audience laughed harder.

“Of age,” Bell continued. “Daniel threw me into a car once. I think that was a bonding moment. This was a story of a boy coming of age. I had a fantastic time with these elderly guys.”

Hammond asked about the rehearsal process.

2008_defiance_011“Going to the pub was a big part of rehearsal,” Zwick joked. “They’re very sophisticated actors, they knew where they wanted to get to. That rivalry—they started playing with it in the best way. Liev signed his emails as BB, for Bigger Bielski.”

Hammond said, “The actual place [where the film’s events occurred] is now a dictatorship and you couldn’t film there. What was it like to shoot in Lithuania?”

“We shot for twelve weeks but at night, we went home to bed and had coffee,” Craig said. “It was cold and hard. God knows what it was like for those people to live—not just live but survive.”

“When your fingers are freezing, you don’t have to talk a lot about Stanislavski,” Zwick added.

“One of the biggest apples of the story is bad things happen,” Craig said. “That moral complex makes it interesting. Tuvia doesn’t want to lead, he wants to grab his family and run.” But, Craig explained further, Tuvia had to lead and within that leadership he had to do some morally questionable things.

“There’s a balance between saving your people and fighting the enemy. Tuvia found that balance,” Davalos said.

At this point, Hammond started taking questions from the audience. Someone asked, “What was cut out [of the film]?”

Schreiber made a comical pouty face. “A lot of scenes of me beating the crap out of people, which I was very fond of.”

Zwick said, “Tuvia being a cab driver in New York City as a wraparound device…”

Craig interjected, “Sixteen hours in makeup.”

Zwick decided to scrap the framing device because “I didn’t want to jerk the audience out of the forest.” [I think this was a very wise move. I seriously dislike framing devices.]

Hammond asked if there was a lot of improvisation or if the actors stuck to the script.

“Some actors’ ideas are all bad,” Zwick said. “These actors—every idea [they had] made the film better.” He also mentioned that Asael’s real-life daughter visited the set on the very day they were shooting the wedding of her parents.

An audience member asked, “What happened to Aaron [the youngest Bielski]?”

“He’s eighty-three, with his forty-year-old trophy wife,” Zwick answered. “He was arrested for extorting an old neighbor lady.”

Someone asked about the violence the Bielskis had to commit in order to survive.

2008_defiance_0121“The American G.I.s had a term—Bielski Enema, [which is] shoving a potato masher grenade into a German’s rectum,” Schreiber said. “I don’t think Tuvia wanted anyone to know that story. To continue to live and raise his children in a peaceful way is remarkable because being exposed to violence is scarring…The conflict was remarkable to me. In the forest, people were free. In the ghetto, they were being killed.”

Craig added, “Without each other, they’re not strong. Tuvia needs Zus as a soldier and brother. The movie’s about keeping your family together, keeping it strong.”

Another audience member asked, “Was the final battle condensed?”

Defiance_KB_101807_10228.CR2“It was condensed,” Zwick said. “The Germans brought twenty thousand troops into the forest.” He explained that the Russians came in to liberate the group of resistance fighters. “These 1200 people came out of the forest and the villagers who thought they were dead thought they were seeing ghosts.”

On that note, Hammond wrapped things up and ended the Q & A.

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