He got such strong, raw performances out of Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling in his 2010 breakthrough Blue Valentine that it would be tempting to peg Cianfrance as a Cassavettes-like poet of intimate relationships. But The Place Beyond the Pines defines him as a prodigy of linear suspense and thrilling action. Bank robberies and motorcycle chases kick off an intricate story of crime, and treachery that spans a decade and a half with such spontaneous intensity and authenticity (Gosling again, this time opposite Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Dane DeHaan) that scenes feel lived-in rather than acted. One clue to Cianfrance’s aesthetic is that he directed half a dozen documentaries between his first dramatic feature (Brother Tied) and Blue Valentine. This detour began, he says, as a means to support his family (he and wife-fellow filmmaker-performance artist Shannon Plumb are raising two boys), but to his surprise, catching reality on the wing radically altered how he sees filmmaking. A native of suburban Denver, Cianfrance grew up making short films and studied at the University of Colorado with experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. He long thought of filmmaking as an art, but his model was C.B. DeMille, giving orders through a megaphone. He now sees it as turning the megaphone to his ear, and listening. One anecdote from Pines illustrates his method. Gosling felt his character should have a tattoo on his face. Cianfrance was skeptical, but the actor’s choice of a dagger-shaped teardrop was such an interesting surprise that he approved. Immediately after they began filming, Gosling had regrets and asked to remove the tattoo. Cianfrance refused, telling him the movie was about choices having consequences; the ink was his choice, so he would have to live with it inside the character. Thus, when the hero attends his son’s baptism, rather than sit in the front pew and seethe with outrage as the script called for, Gosling retreated in shame like a marked man to the back of the church and shed heartfelt tears: an indelible moment. Trust in such discovery has deepened another Cianfrance film-in-progress, Metalhead, which began as a documentary about a musician losing his hearing but is evolving into a poetic exploration of the inner world of deafness. He began it before Blue Valentine, and is unsure when he’ll complete it. Instead, he has just acted with his sons in Towheads, a feature directed by Plumb that he describes as a slapstick version of A Woman Under the Influence, and is more focused on Muscle, a television project he is developing about an unlikely bodybuilder. He and HBO are in talks. Gosling wants to play the lead, but his career is too hot for him to spare five TV seasons — so it will require some skinny but intrepid newcomer who doesn’t mind putting on ninety pounds of muscle over the course of a few years. Come what may, for Cianfrance, the play of reality is the thing.
1:33, 1:85 or 2:39: You left out 1:66 — that’s the European ratio that I shot Blue Valentine in. I have no set preference, because what you choose is always driven by story. But I like what Fritz Lang says in Godard’s Contempt: 2:39 is good for snakes and coffins.
Daily website visit: The New York Times, NFL.com — to keep up with my Denver Broncos.
Ritual you adhere to once your film’s wrapped: No ritual. I just stop when it stops, though I do get into habits. I wore the same white pants day after day while we were shooting Blue Valentine. I wore a camouflage hat on The Place Beyond the Pines. I’ll skip shaving to save time — but these things are spontaneous.
Band you’re obsessed with: My kids are obsessed with Metallica — the way I used to be — so I’m reliving that obsession a bit. Left to my own devices, I’d say Lower Dens — particularly owing to the work of songwriter Jana Hunter. Competitive zeal is the marrow of Clafin’s talent. At 16, in his native England, he broke both ankles playing soccer. Dreams of playing pro broke with them, but that cleared the field for acting, his other youthful passion. Three years of intensive study at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts led to a strong debut in the miniseries Pillars of the Earth. Then came his breakout as the idealistic missionary trying to save a mermaid in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, where he more than held his own opposite Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz. This won him the key role of Prince Charming in Snow White & the Huntsman, where — if Claflin didn’t exactly steal the heart of the heroine — his good looks and athletic bearing sure offset the romantic spell being cast by the sexy Huntsman. Later this year, in Catching Fire, the Hunger Games sequel — as the probably villainous, but possibly heroic, Finnick Odair —he’ll vie for attention with Jennifer Lawrence and the others in the arena. Comparing himself to actors he admires, who’ve worked years for their success — Michael Fassbender, say, or Tom Hardy — twenty-six-year-old Claflin regards himself as plucked from obscurity, and impossibly blessed. He jokes that he cries himself to sleep studying the work of everybody else and imagining how he might have played this or that role. As a departure from his recent string of studio roles, Claflin would relish a more intimate, character-driven project like the 1920s-era love story The Laureate, still in the planning stages, in which he would play the war veteran, poet and scholar Robert Graves. When Claflin is not pretending to be someone else, he is expanding his horizons by expanding his knowledge of film.
Greatest extravagance: My fiancée — I’m joking. But we’re planning our life together, so furniture is my grandest extravagance at the moment. Another is family and friends. I enjoy sharing the benefits of this success with people I love.
Book you’re reading: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Soccer, baseball and football were his passions growing up, so sports naturally pepper Cohen’s analogies when he speaks of the teamwork at UTA, or advancing downfield in the most efficient way for his clients. These include Owen Wilson and Corey Stoll, the most valuable players in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris; Nicholas Hoult, the lad in About a Boy who is now scoring afresh with leads in Jack the Giant Slayer and Warm Bodies; or Jon Lajoie, whom Cohen discovered on YouTube and helped groom for success on the FX comedy The League; or Chris D’Elia, the funny foil-guy on TV’s Whitney, now about to head up another NBC comedy, Undateable. Cohen specializes in clients with a competitive streak — primarily comics, self-starters — who are multi-talented and poly-ambitious. As an example, he cites Kevin Hart’s mastery of the Internet and social media spaces. In the few years since Cohen first discovered him working small clubs in New York, Hart has become one of a handful of comedians whose presence can get a picture green-lit. His following on Twitter made smash hits of both his concert film Let Me Explain and his feature Think Like a Man, which opened to $32 million. Cohen’s path to success grew out of similarly alert coupling of enthusiasm with opportunity. He was born in New Jersey and raised there and in Mississippi. He majored in history and journalism at Emory University in Atlanta, and thought he would either be a sportswriter or go to law school and become a sports agent. While in L.A. as a summer intern with the creators of the sports show Rome Is Burning, he made connections in entertainment. He met with UTA and its rivals and discovered a form of agenting better suited to his nature —more immediate, less reliant on a law degree and built more on relationships and transactions. Mentored by UTA partner Jim Berkus, Cohen pursued what on the surface seemed a naïve trust in hyphenation — that if a talent does more than one thing, there are more jobs you can send them out for. This has proved to be the heart of the current paradigm. Cohen is particularly enthused about Stoll, who — having made a splash as Hemingway and as an alcoholic congressman in House of Cards — is aimed at writing and directing, and likely will do so if The Strain, the FX pilot he is shooting with Guillermo del Toro, takes off. When Cohen needs to relax, he returns to his first loves — weekend games of softball and football in league with other entertainment players.
Fave restaurant to schmooze clients: Dan Tana’s!
Hobbies: Other folks have yoga, I’m part of a softball league run by a dear friend, attorney Alan Wertheimer.
Daily website visit: ESPN.com. Born in South Africa and raised in Australia, Tanya Cohen grew adept at representing herself early and often, if only to explain what she refers to as her “muddle” of an accent. A love of singing attracted her to the performing arts, but it was an inspiring stream of tragic, triumphant African-themed pictures — Power of One, Hotel Rwanda, Black Diamond — that prompted her, as a college student in Sydney, to transfer to UCLA and seek a life in the movie business. Her student visa allowed her to intern in the Paradigm mailroom while wrapping up her studies, and she ascended from there. Since jumping to Verve early this year, she has specialized in representing top storytellers in the Pixar-esque arena of visual effects: Simon Rippingdale, of the acclaimed animated short A Cautionary Tail (voiced by Cate Blanchett and David Wenham); Canadian VFX wizard Patrick Boivin, who has just made the jump from shorts to direct Awaken for Disney; Peter Candeland, who will direct How the Grinch Stole Christmas for Christopher Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures; and Black List writer-director Natasha Pincus (Clive). Cohen is passionate about artists who are seeking new forms of expression and keeps a close daily vigil on Kickstarter, YouTube and every other content incubator on the Internet. To unwind, she enjoys long-distance running.
One thing people don’t know about you: As a teenager I was in a gospel choir. While in Sydney, I sang in a production of Rent.
Favorite restaurant to schmooze clients: Mastro’s Steak House. Unknown, the 2011 thriller in which Liam Neeson wakes from a coma to find an impostor living his life, launched this Barcelona-born filmmaker into the front ranks. His talent was evident in three prior features: a remake, House of Wax; Living the Dream, also known as Goal II; and, most notably, Orphan, a disturbing “family” horror picture that won few friends among critics but cleaned up at the box office. Every Collet-Serra picture has been commercially successful; Unknown also scored with critics, drawing comparisons to Polanski. He and Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli collaborated on a short-lived but well-regarded network series The River. In addition to directing and planning his own next pictures — Non-Stop, a thriller starring Neeson and Julianne Moore; Run All Night, also with Neeson — Collet-Serra is producing Mindscape for fellow Spaniard Jorge Dorado to direct. He hopes to mentor younger directors on a further host of other projects. His goals are more selfish than they appear, he says with a smile. He learns a lot, with greater detachment, watching and helping other directors solve problems. Growing up in Catalonia in the 1970s, inspired by American movies, he knew by age 11 that he would become a filmmaker, and that he would end up in the U.S. He arrived at Columbia College in Los Angeles in his late teens, in the early 1990s. Not long afterward, using the single moniker “Jaume,” he was directing music videos and commercials. By 2005, he had joined forces with producer Joel Silver and made the jump to features. Apart from traveling a bit with his girlfriend, Collet-Serra has no hobbies or pursuits other than movies. One project he hopes to take on is Akira, from Katsuhiro Otomo’s popular series of postapocalyptic graphic novels. He insists he has never had a master plan. Instead, he says, “Projects choose me. My goal is to work non-stop.
Digital or film: Film. It’s more forgiving, in terms of the lenses. Digital breaks down. On film, if you’ve got ten minutes left to get the shot, you get it.
Ritual you adhere to once your film’s wrapped: I don’t cut my hair or shave when I’m filming. I don’t remember to. I become quite hairy. So I shave and get a haircut — but not on the set.
Most unusual place you’ve found material: Facebook! It didn’t get made. Many interesting ideas come in many strange ways. His John Harrison is the charismatic antagonist magnetizing the action in the latest Star Trek, while his soulful, solid, stoic shouldering of an impossibly difficult marriage made Parade’s End the intimate epic to watch as it unfolded across five nights on HBO — and that was just the first half of 2013. In the second half, we will see him as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate; as one of a crowded and embattled family headed by Meryl Streep in August: Osage County; as a slave owner afflicting the life of a kidnapped man in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave; and giving Shakespearean movement and voice (the rest is digital) to both Smaug the Dragon and Necromancer in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Part III will come in 2014, alongside Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, in which he will play Alan Turing, the brilliant nonconformist who broke the Nazi code. When we caught up with him he was wrapping what he described as the second block of the third season of Sherlock, his — oh, yes — transatlantic hit TV series. His use of the Dickensian name Cumberbatch (inherited at birth) was a conscious career choice. As a son of two hardworking actors, he was encouraged by mother, Wanda Ventham, to use Carlton — the middle name he shares with father Timothy Carlton — but a rebel instinct led him to prefer the rumble-and-thistle of their family heirloom as being, for all its oddity, both memorable and new. He was seriously tempted to study law. Painting and drawing are other passionate ambitions he continues for his own pleasure, using observation and expression akin to acting, but self-directed. His way into any character is to find the one hidden thing — often a secret, always masked — that he can most truthfully confide (“without demonstrating”) to the audience. This makes him an ideal fit for fictional espionage, as in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. How does he inhabit a real-life Hotspur, like Julian Assange? With more acute moral awareness than usual, he says, about the consequences of a false step. Asked if there’s anything people don’t know about him, and he admits to being a light sleeper — the slightest noise wakes him — otherwise, he is pleased to invoke the phrase private life and mean it. Single now after a longtime relationship with actress Olivia Poulet, he recently confronted and — peacefully — foiled a neighbor who was recording his every move on Twitter. His love of privacy extends to not studying his own inner-artistic workings too closely. Working with Streep in Osage, he marveled at a manic meltdown she nailed and, admittedly star-struck, asked about her process. I don’t have one, she replied: Do you? He laughed and shook his head, enormously relieved.
Pastime or hobby you’ve taken up between takes: Skydiving — which I love — makes the insurance men nervous, so let’s just say scuba diving, which is similar but a somewhat safer passion of mine.
Band or singer you’re obsessed with: Thom York of Radiohead, Nick Drake, Dylan and the Stones: What music may I not be obsessed with?
One person, dead or alive, who’s inspired your work the most: Stanley Kubrick: I would love to have worked with him, but that moment has passed. Among the living, I would have to say Daniel Day-Lewis.
Director you hope to work with one day: Michael Winterbottom, if the material’s right. Otherwise, I’ve already been working with my dream directors! His performance as the son of Ryan Gosling’s biker-bandit in The Place Beyond the Pines was a breakthrough in public and critical recognition, and playing pal-turned-nemesis Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 2 should boost his stock even more. But top filmmakers have had Dane DeHaan on their radar for years. In 2010 he was an adopted son agonizing over the identity of his birth parents on HBO’s In Treatment and a romance-minded American soldier in John Sayles’s historical film Amigo. Alan Ball, creator of True Blood, cast DeHaan in a trio of 2011 episodes of the HBO vampire saga after seeing his work off-Broadway in Sixty Miles to Silverlake, End Days and The Aliens, the latter of which won DeHaan an Obie Award. When he graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2008, the Allentown, Pennsylvania native thought he would spend his life acting in regional theater. Instead, his career accelerated the instant he set foot in Manhattan. This may be a byproduct of sheer dedication. Asked whom he admires, he can furnish a list (see below), but adds with emphasis, stresses that above all, he is a fan of acting. Married since 2012 to actress Anna Wood, with whom he shares a long, exploratory kiss in Chronicle — the couple wed after six years together in a ceremony atop the Blue Ridge Mountains — DeHaan prefers to keep the rest of his private life private. At his most open, he is armored with a dry, laid-back sense of humor. Comfortable in a superhero yarn or a painstaking period recreation (he had special shoes built to play a boy with rickets in the Depression-era drama Lawless), he’ll inhabit another memorable historical moment as Lucien Carr, a key figure of the Beat Generation, opposite Daniel Radcliffe’s Alan Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings (he says their onscreen snog is a shameless bid for the MTV Movie Awards “Best Kiss” prize). Also on the way are roles in Atom Egoyan’s The Devil’s Knot and the zombie comedy Life After Beth. With his sharp stare and facial structure he often evokes comparisons to a younger Leonardo DiCaprio (the two could be taken for brothers). But on his present trajectory, soon very few critics or fans will be comparing DeHaan to nobody but himself.
One person, dead or alive, who’s inspired your work the most: Al Pacino, James Dean and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Band or singer you’re obsessed with: I have Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on my iPhone. I really like the Avett Brothers and the National.
Pastime or hobby you’ve taken up between takes: If I could do anything in the world other than act, I would be a professional golfer. I love golf. I’m just not good enough, so I’m an actor. A self-described “Jew from the East Coast,” Diperstein, who was born just outside Philadelphia, developed an interest in show business early on, especially TV comedy. As a communications major at Hofstra University, he would stack all of his classes across two days of any given week so he could commute to Manhattan for internships at 30 Rock, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. The producers at Conan clocked him as a future agent when they noticed his backstage skills — not just at keeping high-maintenance guests happy but cheerfully soothing the anger of late-arriving audience members turned away at the door. In his mid-twenties, Diperstein is already repping a list of promising talents — among them Black List writers Brad Desch and Patrick Aison (authors of spec scripts Fathers and Daughters and Wunderkind, respectively). He is also shepherding five other new scripts into what he views as a resurgent spec market. Life as a ten-percenter suits Diperstein both literally and figuratively. He loves the profession’s centrality within the showbiz matrix, and he confesses to a “suit-buying addiction” and “an enormous luxury tie collection.” When he’s not negotiating, you can find him hitting the tennis courts and, as an “F.I.T. — foodie-in-training,” some of L.A.’s best restaurants.
Favorite restaurant to schmooze clients: Nate & Al’s, Barney Greengrass and Mastro’s Steakhouse.
Book you’re reading: The Racketeer by John Grisham. Dowling worked steadily as an actor after he co-wrote and played a role in the hit 1999 USC short George Lucas in Love, but his screenplay for the 2008 buddy comedy Role Models decisively redefined him as a writer — and ever since has kept him occupied behind the cameras. Just Go With It provided fresh dynamics not just for Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, but a fiery and funny supporting role for Nicole Kidman. This Means War, about a pair of close friends in love with the same woman, was developed by other hands for years before he came up with the winning suggestion that the pair be super-spies with lethal skill sets — as if two James Bonds suddenly woke up trapped inside a romantic comedy. Mixing genres is catnip for Dowling. As a kid in Boston, he was smitten by Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark and dreamed early of showbiz. His favorite movie as a teenager was Midnight Run, a mash-up of action-romp, depth of feeling and bantering humor that informs his present work. Outsourced, a satirical comedy about a pair of blue-collar gringos who follow their lost jobs to Mexico, remains unproduced but made the Black List and caught the eye of Robert De Niro. Fast forward to a meeting where, in a twist that might as well have been scripted, Dowling successfully pitched the two-time Oscar winner an as-yet untitled follow-up to … Midnight Run. It won’t be a sequel: rather, as The Color of Money did for The Hustler, it builds a fresh story around the same characters, twenty years later. De Niro and Charles Grodin are givens, but there are other major roles (thus new casting considerations to be navigated) but all are confident it will come to pass. In the immediate pipeline is Uptown Saturday Night, an updating of the 1974 Sidney Poitier-Harry Belafonte hit that this time will star Denzel Washington and Will Smith, the latter of whom got to know Dowling when he was considering This Means War for himself. Still, he hasn’t given up acting entirely: Sandler has insisted he write a role for himself in their next picture, Pixels, a comedy franchise à la Ghostbusters in which Manhattan is overrun not by ghosts but by characters from ’80s videogames. Chris Columbus will direct. He has hopes for Outsourced, which Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson flirted with prior to Wedding Crashers. It was too similar in tone then — but now? Dowling’s personal favorite among his specs is The Treehouse Gang, a Goonies for grownups about a band of boyhood pals, disappointed in their thirties, who are revived by a cliffhanging adventure. He may direct this one.
One thing people may not know about you: I’m a big politics buff.
Favorite way to procrastinate: When I’m stuck, I go online and read about other people’s movies.
Dream job: To write Indy V. I own the Indiana Jones desk from the last movie. Back when they were starting out, a decade ago, the Duplass brothers would pitch ideas to anyone who would listen — and if the answer was no, they’d go out and make the film anyway, as a short. This practice led to a half-dozen always interesting, sometimes prize-winning entries at Sundance and South By Southwest: The New Brad; This Is John; Scrapple; The Puffy Chair; The Intervention and Baghead. When they made the jump to features in 2010 with Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly, their success amplified. Mark penned a solo script Black Rock, a knife-edge thriller that pays an open debt to his favorite novel, James Dickey’s Deliverance. He also partnered with Jay on such films as Jeff, Who Lives at Home and The Do-Deca-Pentathalon. Together, the brothers are deft chroniclers of everyday reversals and embarrassments. Natives of Metairie, a square-gridded suburb of New Orleans whose mind-numbing tedium — they claim — drove them to become artists, they graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where Jay majored in Psychology while Mark studied Music and English. They were inspired to become filmmakers by the local examples of Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater, whom they admired from a distance for their handmade, homespun approach to making films. As children of the 1980s, their minds were blown open by the wealth of movies they caught on HBO — Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, the films of Robert Altman. It’s only fitting that their next venture, Togetherness, is a series for…HBO. They look forward to seeing how much weirdness and subtlety they can get away with, and how much calamity can befall their characters, when liberated from the 90-to-120-minute convention of a feature.
Digital or film: Mark & Jay: Digital
1:33, 1:85 or 2:39: Mark & Jay: 1:85!
One thing people don’t know about you: Mark: I love modern country music, its purity and lack of cynicism make me cry. Jay: I can’t see. I’m the primary cameraman of the pair, but I suffer astigmatism keratin CK and am legally blind. Mark: All true! Jay needs to get disability, free rides to the set.
Favorite way to procrastinate: Mark: Convince myself I’m doing research as I surf the Net. Jay: Sitting in my office, convincing myself the place needs a thorough cleaning — after which it gets spic ’n’ span, real fast! If that fails, I look for other people’s offices to clean. I once procrastinated — and I’m not joking — by reading a book about writer’s block called The War of Art.