You want commentary? Sure. Next month, HBO will release Phil Spector, which chronicles the murder trial against legendary record producer Phil Spector that concluded with his 2009 sentencing for a very long time. Today, HBO released a trailer showing Al Pacino (as Spector) and Helen Mirren (as his lawyer) chewing on all kinds of dramatic scenery, but the most notable thing is the assortment of truly garish wigs on top of Pacino’s head—which, along with the hammy delivery, make it seem like the movie could find its place in the pantheon of ironically watched movies for years to come. Or maybe it’ll actually be good, but really: Those wigs! It’s out on March 24. As follows:
1. Psycho afro (pictured above)
2. Increasingly irrelevant cool dad
3. Sideburn Spector
4. 21st century Mick Jagger
5. Bomb shelter chic
With his latest restaurant, Red Rooster, breathing new life into Harlem all over again with its multi-culturati scene, we were eager to sit down with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, the cock of the New York foodie walk.
The first amazing thing we found out?
He’s not a celebrity chef, he says. He’s just a guy who loves to cook, who has more endorsement deals than knives: television shows, websites, social networking accounts, a hospitality group, and a self-designed line of shoes called MOZO Chef Signature, which look like a cross between skater shoes, high-end sneakers, and Italian driving moccasins. He’s an Iron Chef champ. He huffs for HuffPo. He’s cooked for the Obamas—their first state dinner at the White House. And he helped The Man feed the fat cats at a DNC fundraiser at Red Rooster in March (lobster salad and short ribs). He’s handsome and married to a model, Maya Haile. He’s a fashion plate, and we’re not talking starters and sides: Burberry, Acne, Dior, Valentino, “Brooklyn” Nikes, Ralph Lauren, and Vuitton bags to travel. He’s a philanthropist (Tap Project for UNICEF, World Childhood Foundation, CCAP) and an activist. And he has a biographical back story that James Frey or JT LeRoy wouldn’t have tried to float past their publishers: Ethiopian-born, orphaned at 3, raised in Sweden, three stars at 24, with a new concept of “fusion” cooking that seems to express not only his life, but a vision of a world on the edge of ethnographic change, forever.
What we learned from our talk:
Five of Marcus’ favorite words are: platform, conversation, proposition, journey, and community.
Why Rooster? Why Harlem?
“I thought, I live here. Why is it the case that there are more sodas than fresh apples on my block? What can I do in that conversation? Food is my platform, and I can bring that to this community. No one is coming to Harlem for anything. You have to create it.”
“That’s the proposition. Create a magnet, create the jobs. If we hire just 60 people—some of these kids, maybe they worked in a fast food restaurant before, so when we serve and they meet the person who just graduated from school, they meet the Harlemite guy, you’re creating a new language. A new conversation.”
“You have to separate yourself from the conversation in order to give your best. All of these people, they’re connected, they aspire. None of them would work at a four-star restaurant, a three-star restaurant—they would not actually have been spoken to. But they’re good people and they deserve a chance, and these standards that I was taught and trained by I got in my blood when I was 17 years old. Some of them are 19, some of them are 45—it doesn’t matter. They’re still going to get a chance. The restaurant was an opportunity to create a community and a place where people who go by say, ‘I’m going to work there.’”
The next trend is “local, authentic.” The last trend was “fusion, exotic.” But Rooster is authentically local because Harlem is exotically fusion. Two birds with one stone.
“The authenticity first is by the intent. We are here, and we are authentic because our staff is from here, and because of the conversation of the menu. East of us is the Harlemite from the Latin community—that’s why we have a big section of that [tacos and tostadas]. The center of us is the Trinidadian and Jamaican community [dirty rice and jerk beef]. And then you have the African-American community [mac and greens, fried chicken], and then you have the Jewish [braised short ribs] and Italian-American [asparagus with pine nuts, lemon chicken]. The menu’s laid out so that we are ‘a place.’ It’s not like, ‘I like foie gras, so let’s have foie gras on the menu.’ It doesn’t fit.”
What we love about Marcus: He’s put his money where his mouth is.
“When I was 21, I ate at a fuga restaurant in Japan. I was completely broke afterwards. I flew to Japan to do this and I did it, and I left with a smile. It was still fantastic. When I ate at Alain Ducasse the first time, same thing. Every year I took one trip that put everything in the red and saved up all my money and ate. It’s the only school. But I worked every weekend for it. You just work and you do it. Getting there—with your borrowed tie and pants, but getting there. Eating a tasting menu. Those are experiences.”
What Marcus tweeted the day we talked to him:
“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.” —Rabindranath Tagore.
Was it something we said?
We’ve always harbored a not-so-secret obsession for actor Michael Shannon, and with Shannon Season fast approaching, it’s obvious we’re not the only ones. This fall, we’ll be enrapt by his baby-mama drama (with BULLETT babe Paz de la Huerta) as he reprises his role as Agent Nelson Van Alden on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. We’ll also be front row when he portrays a man with a serious mental illness in the psychological drama Take Shelter (costarring Jessica Chastain, another actor who’s having a major moment), and when he embodies a drug addict alongside Gerard Butler inMachine Gun Preacher.
In this exclusive video interview, the lovable oddball discusses conspiracy theories (which he endearingly calls conspiracy “truths”) and his thoughts on extraterrestrial life.
Celebrity sorcerer David Copperfield once made the Statue of Liberty disappear. He’s walked through (yes, through) the Great Wall of China. With his trademark smolder, he even wooed supermodel Claudia Schiffer, to whom he was engaged for six years. The 55-year-old New Jersey native is the proud owner of eleven Guinness World Record, 21 Emmys, and a chain of 11 islands in the Bahamas. It’s safe to say he lives a, well, charmed life, which is why we were so excited when he invited BULLETT to hang out in his magic archive in Las Vegas.
Check out the behind-the-scenes footage in which our Editor-in-Chief Idil Tabanca, Creative Director Sah D’Simone, and Art Director James Orlando team up with the King of Magic to create images that are beyond enchanting. To see the results of the shoot, pick up BULLETT’s Cosmic Issue, on stands now.
Mary-Louise Parker could not be more ready for BULLETT’s Cosmic issue.
“I’ve been called an alien all my life,” she says warming to the topic. “They can’t get a pulse on me and for some reason I break electronics – like my computer and my cell phone. No-one knows what it is.”
Thankfully, today her negative ions are set to low, so digital pictures remain faithfully on SD cards while her words are recorded for posterity on an iPod.
We’re in Los Angeles, her home-away-from-her-NYC-home for three months a year while she films the hit Showtime series Weeds, chronicling the bad decisions and wild missteps of a mother/widower/dope dealer/gangster’s moll. It’s a role that’s given the 46-year-old both a regular gig, and the opportunity to indulge her love of theatre (she won a Tony for her Broadway role in “Proof“), cherry pick some choice film roles (Red, Solitary Man) and raise her two kids (seven-year-old William with actor Billy Crudup, and adopted daughter Caroline, five.)
She’s a lot on her plate, which could explain her croak of a voice, words propelled mere inches from her mouth by the slightest puff of her lungs before falling almost unheard onto the ground. Almost unheard…
At the end of the last season of Weeds, after years of getting away with it all, Nancy finally got caught.
Yes, she went to jail for three years. This is the first time the show returned after a break with a three-year gap in the story.
Did three years in the big house finally teach her a lesson?
No way. We wouldn’t have a show if it did.
How soon before she starts getting into trouble again?
About 20 minutes. Maybe more like 11.
Have you personally ever had any issues with the decisions she’s made?
No. I’m not like her. She’s really immediate, and I tend to worry more and think about the future and my children and the effect things will have on them, even down to what they eat.
America is still essentially a puritanical society: was it inevitable that she ultimately had to be punished for her crimes?
The writer and creator of the show wasn’t looking for something punitive to appeal to middle America: she’s more along the lines of wanting to shock people. I think she just thought it was good for the story.
Nothing in the name of moral duty?
No – I don’t think there’s much of that on the show.
I was the first one! I personally think there’s something lovely about watching a slightly more fictionalized ideal, like Leave It To Beaver. I’d rather watch that, but maybe people can’t live up to that, and it feels more subversive and voyeuristic to see something that is closer to real life.
Though however extraordinary her situation, her response is always relatively passive.
That’s because she feels, whatever’s happening, ‘Things will ultimately work out for me’. It’s not even being able to relate to the fact that it might not. That’s a hard attitude for me to relate to.
Has anything been difficult for you to film or deal with?
Honestly, driving was the hardest thing for me because I don’t drive.
So you’ve been beaten, sexually abused, kidnapped, gone to jail, attacked… yet driving has been the most difficult.
I would say so. I’m pretty bad. They had a gag reel one season that had seven takes of me trying to back out of a parking space.
Apart from forcing you into a car, has Nancy influenced you at all?
Just with her taste in jewelry. I worked for a long time to try and find her wardrobe and I really want her jewelry. I don’t dress like her otherwise.
You look pretty badass on the new poster, with your leather pants and chain.
I know – isn’t that silly! My kids saw it from the car – ‘Oh, it’s mummy!’ I think they think everyone’s mummy is on a billboard.
You’ve interviewed and written for Esquire: if you were interviewing yourself what question would you ask?
God… what a good question. I guess… why do you want to keep doing it? The answer? I don’t want to seem melodramatic, but in some ways it feels like this is what I have to be doing. My father just died, so that changes the way I feel about what I do.
Sorry to hear that – do you believe you’ll get to see him again in the afterlife?
I want to so badly. Nobody knows – everything is philosophy as far as I’m concerned. Or hope.
If there is an afterlife, where do you think you’re going and where do you think Nancy’s going?
Nancy’s going to a land full of shoes and jewelry. I’d just like to be somewhere I can see my dad again, and ultimately my mum and my kids.
When you were a kid yourself did you feel you had a purpose?
To keep people around me happy.
That’s a serious responsibility for a child.
It wasn’t in a mammoth way, not like some Dickensian-type thing. I was kind of a disaster socially, so I didn’t have a lot of friends, which in the end brought me all kinds of other things.
Do you believe in fate?
No. I believe in effort. And results. Effort counts, and that’s what I respect in other people. It’s like, ‘Why even bother? I’ll just sit here and let it all happen to me.’
Do you think there’s another version of yourself sitting somewhere in a parallel universe, and if so, what’s she doing?
I don’t, but if there is I wish she’d show up and let me take a nap.
How important to you is order as opposed to chaos?
I have to create order because there’s so much chaos in my head. I can’t have both.
If you had an opportunity to take a glimpse into the future 50 years from now, what would you want to see in it?
I’d have to know first that it’s true; otherwise I wouldn’t want to see it. If someone could say your children are happy and doing well, I might want to peek. But only if I was on my way to die.
How about just a year from now – do you think you’ll still be playing Nancy Botwin?
I didn’t think they’d even pick up the pilot so I didn’t think it would go a year. Now every year I’m like, ‘You’re kidding!’. Certainly I’d do another year after this – I’m happy to have a job.
What would you like to see happen to Nancy in the future?
I like the really extreme scripts, and I wish she’d go back to a suburban setting: I love the dynamic of her trying to fit in with other women that she should be able to fit in with and just can’t. She is one of them but she isn’t.
Do you think there’s a chance that ultimately we’ll see grandma Nancy dealing drugs?
Oh, quite possibly…
One of last year’s fastest rising talents and the star of the upcoming 50/50, Anna Kendrick enjoyed the tutelage of Parker Posey in BULLETT’s Fall editorial. Check out these images from Anna’s shoot, where she dons Missoni, Libertine and vintage Alaîa. You can check out the full interview and the beautiful editorial shot by Lauren Dukoff here.
Ashlee Simpson isn’t the only one swooning over actor Vincent Piazza. The Boardwalk Empire star has been a BULLETT favorite since his turn as a kleptomaniac named Earl in 2007’s Rocket Science. But he really sealed the deal when he stepped into the role of notorious mobster Lucky Luciano (“the father of modern organized crime”) in HBO‘s prohibition-era drama, where he holds his own among his formidable costars Michael Shannon and Paz de la Huerta (also BULLETT crushes).
For BULLETT’s Cosmic issue, Vincent Piazza was tasked to invent something that would change the world for the better. Thus was born the Negativity Neutralizer, a machine that turns complaints into a source of pure, renewable energy. We filmed Piazza as he tested his machine on the whiniest people in New York, a city of whiny people.
The gloomy London afternoon is illuminated by Ewan McGregor’s arrival to the North London townhouse where he is set to transform into various, equally eccentric characters. The 40-year-old Scottish actor appears, cheerful and animated, sporting a mustache that suggests he is a proud graduate of Dali’s Academy of ‘Stache Twisting. After our initial introductions, the shoot begins. About an hour later, having relocated to the garden, I hear laughter coming from the studio. I run inside to see who tripped on the strobes this time, only to find the actor in tight pants, deliberately showing his butt crack while striking a mock-sexy pose for the camera. McGregor has the crew doubled over in laughter as I surreptitiously snap a photo.
A few hours pass before McGregor calls me out. “I wanted to ask you something,” he says. “Did you take a picture of my ass crack?” Busted! I feel mortified. He probably thinks I am going to sell it to TMZ. This is bad, real bad. He thinks I am a perv, a creep. “Yes,” I say, blushing. I’m already preparing a lengthy speech that would go on about my morals as they relate to privacy, and that I would never show it to anyone but I probably should not have done it anyways. I can actually delete it right now. Does he want to delete it himself? Would that make him more comfortable? Shit, should I throw the phone in the pool? Instead of reprimanding me as I’d expected, he says, “Can you send me that photo? I want to email it to my publicist as a cover option.” The accompanying photo shoot was never intended to showcase McGregor’s assets—besides, we’ve seen it all before to great effect in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book, and Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine. Yet the peculiar exchange serves as an icebreaker, setting into motion the conversations that would reveal the true identity of this fascinating man.
It seems like just yesterday that I was in film school and my screenwriting professor distributed the Trainspotting script. He claimed that there were some movies, grand and full of spectacle, that feel like “the cinematography was done by God,” yet they don’t come close to exploring the real human condition. And then every once in a while there comes a film that, without such extravaganza, tells a story so honest and original, so affecting and resonating, that it reminds us about the true priorities of filmmaking. I knew exactly what he meant.
These humbly budgeted yet brilliantly written and acted films have the rare formula of bringing together organic aspects of filmmaking. And a desirable ingredient in this mix has always been Ewan McGregor. Beginners, a profoundly moving story inspired by the experiences of its director Mike Mills, is the most recent example. “I have a feeling about this film,” he says. “The subject matter makes you think and it gets in touch with your emotions, for sure. But also, just the way it looks and sounds and flows, there’s something very moving about it.”
Exploring a unique father-son relationship, the story follows McGregor’s character Oliver as he copes with his father coming to terms with his homosexuality following his wife’s death. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 75, Oliver’s father has four years to enjoy this newfound sexual freedom. As Oliver watches his father rediscover life through the process of dying, a quirky French actress, played by Mélanie Laurent, helps him endure the cards he’s been dealt. The freedom to improvise and experiment with emotions in this year’s word-of-mouth champion allow McGregor to flaunt what comes naturally: innate, raw talent.
The iconic Joseph Campbell book, Hero with a Thousand Faces, which comes up during a brainstorming session between BULLETT and McGregor, inspires the visual direction of the accompanying photo. In his deeply philosophical masterpiece, Campbell deconstructs the journey of mankind through religion and mythology. George Lucas’ Star Wars (McGregor portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi in the franchise’s revamp), is one of the many films that were profoundly influenced by Campbell’s ideals.
Campbell’s terrifyingly exhilarating theory is that every hero gets one “call to adventure,” a turning point in life that comes in many manifestations and serves as a formal invitation to fulfill one’s potential. Defined by its risks, the journey that follows is meant to initiate the most significant self-transformation in a hero’s life. To do this, our hero must leave home and take a journey into the unknown. Should one deny their call to adventure and remain still, Campbell claims, then they will be cursed for the rest of their existence with leading the opposite of what their life was meant to become—a mundane, nine-to-five existence.
The idea fit McGregor like a glove: the man doesn’t just walk on the path to his adventure—he runs through it like a crazed bull with a red cloth attached to his horns. His call to adventure came in the form of a passion and talent from within, so grand that it was impossible to contain. He started to take on one courageous role after another. The risks that any actor would take only once or twice in their career became a constant trademark for McGregor. He has immersed himself in characters as disparate as they are detailed. Gay, straight, drug addict, rock star, villain, leading man—musical, drama, comedy, thriller—he has done it all and more. “Heroes come in all shapes and forms, and no matter what your calling is, pursue it,” he says. That was the message. As we interpreted our own version of Campbell’s theory, the characters that McGregor suggested we explore were, in a way, alter egos that represent the other directions his journey could have gone in a strange parallel realm.
McGregor’s path has been neither straight nor narrow. When he first told his parents he wanted to act, they were concerned, especially his father, a P.E. teacher who was blessed with two sons: an athletic superstar and a drama kid. Recalling Tim Burton’s Big Fish and Mike Mills’ Beginners, two films that McGregor starred in, which explore in-depth father- son relationships, I was curious to know why he’s been drawn to the subject. He recalled his father’s fears of him not being able to support himself while running after his highly improbable dreams. “I tried,” he says. “I wasn’t very sporty, but my older brother, he was good at cricket and rugby. So he was more like my father, I suppose. And then he got accepted into the Royal Air Force and became a pilot, which is something that I think my father would’ve liked to do himself. So my brother was much more like my father. And he understood me less, because I was interested more in music.” After his first job, McGregor called his father and told him he booked the part (Lipstick on Your Collar) and would get paid £24,000. “There was a real moment of relief in his voice. I mean, he was always very supportive, but I think he was probably a bit worried that it wouldn’t work. And once he sensed that it would, he has since been great.”
In addition to his career, McGregor also assumes multiple roles in his everyday hurdles: doting father, loving husband, generous friend, notorious prankster, adventurous free spirit. Assuming the latter, he recently went on a journey of self exploration through Campbell’s highest recommended reboot recipe: wandering, the ancient method of simply going far, far away for a long, long time. The story comes up when I ask him whether he’s ever been to a fortuneteller. About seven years ago, McGregor and a friend took a three-month trip, traveling the world on their motorcycles. He regards the journey as an ultimate life-changing experience.
While staying in Prague, he encountered a psychic who told him he would fall in love during this trip. Happily married, McGregor briefly worried trouble was ahead. “I thought, shit… You know, I’m married. I’ve got two kids at home. The last thing I need to do is to fall in love with a girl. I took it with a pinch of salt. And then, on that trip, I met my daughter, Jamiyan, who we adopted from Mongolia. So the fortuneteller was right. But you know, it wasn’t the kind of girl that I’d been thinking about at the time.” Like heroes, love too comes in many shapes and forms.
With the expertise of a pro gambler, McGregor always puts his heart and soul into projects that don’t necessarily bring a fortune but surely produce acclaim. He has no boundaries, complaints, or excuses when it comes to his job. Whether the role demands him to pull down his pants and shake his penis, dive into a nasty toilet in search of a heroin baggie, or makeout with Jim Carrey, McGregor conquers each task gracefully.
While discussing the unexpected turns his career has taken, McGregor reveals that his astonishing portrayal of Curt Wild in Velvet Goldmine was an intimidating challenge as the character is based on a combination of two megastars: Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. I ask him if he tried the “method acting” thing, which unexpectedly brings up an epic memory. It will teach you to never drink and method act.
When Velvet Goldmine was in production, David Bowie—whom Jonathan Rhys Meyers‘ character was based on—did not want anything to do with the film. Iggy Pop, however, was supportive of the production. “Iggy Pop was very happy for us to use his music. I got to sing a couple of numbers. David Bowie didn’t want us to touch it at all because he felt that he didn’t want the insinuation that he might have been having sex with men.” A while after the film came out, McGregor was invited to a Versace event where Iggy Pop was set to play. He went with the hope of meeting the musician. When he got there, however, he realized he’d downed a bit too much of the sweet nectar. As Iggy started to play, he made his way to the front row. “I’d spent a long time with a choreographer working on his movements and studying his concerts and feeling like I had Iggy Pop in my bones while filming those scenes. So when I was watching him, I felt like some kind of kindred spirit between us, you know?”
After the show, McGregor went to his dressing room to bond with the musician, where it quickly became clear Iggy Pop had never seen the film nor had he any idea who McGregor was. “So this spirit that I felt we shared was shattered, and in my drunken state I went… I did him to him, you know?” He found himself dancing in Iggy Pop’s dressing room—as Iggy Pop. “The alcoholic fog sort of cleared and I could see myself doing it, and I went, What the fuck am I doing? And Iggy Pop was sitting there going, ‘Yeah, that’s cool, man.’ I didn’t know what to do. It was so embarrassing. I think I just shuffled out of the dressing room and got the fuck out of there as quickly as possible.”
Back at the shoot, the photographer calls out expressions to McGregor. “Funny, sad, pissed off, timid.” His face transforms through the roller coaster of emotions effortlessly. “Excited, disappointed… sexy?” He valiantly attempts a model pout, and then bursts into laughter, embarrassed, as if being sexy is the one thing he cannot fake—it just comes naturally. Someone throws “Christopher Walken” into the list of emotions. McGregor starts to speak like him. An Al Green song begins to play. He sings along in a lovely voice as his congenial companion, a rescue dog, Syd enters the frame again, his curly hair covered in lipstick from the adoring fans on set.
McGregor sits on a vintage suitcase for a picture. It makes a cracking sound and shakes. I gasp, but he doesn’t fall. Instead he gets up and apologizes for ruining the already decayed prop. So genuine and humble, it does not even occur to him that he is a star, and that obviously, we are concerned for his safety. When it comes to McGregor, there is no hint of entitlement or inflated sense of his own importance, unlike many of those who live in the public eye. He has figured out some kind of a secret formula for attaining the best of both worlds: pursuing his passion without sacrificing his authenticity.
McGregor has undoubtedly stamped his presence on some of the most iconic films of our time. His intrepid career promises to secure itself among the best while his courageous choices will forever be renowned for their quality. McGregor is a director’s wet dream—immensely talented yet without vanity. Having assumed numerous real life personas, he has mastered the craft. He can—and pretty much has—played everyone and everything.
But who would play him? What if the tables were turned and someone made a film about him, and he found himself in Iggy’s shoes? What genre would his life be and who would he want to play himself? “Cate Blanchett,” he says. “She could play me. That would be good, wouldn’t it?” He goes on to explain how such a film would be quite dull. “It’d be like a long, slow, indulgent French film about mood.” Surely enough, his humble response fails to calculate the vast interest an Ewan McGregor biopic featuring an androgynous Cate Blanchett spazzing out like McGregor spazzing out like Iggy Pop would generate.