Although she’s been operating at a high level since she costarred as 007’s rival assassin and eventual ally in Quantum of Solace, Kurylenko has yet to find her limit in star power and critical recognition. She shone opposite Ben Affleck in Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, held her ground with Tom Cruise in Oblivion and continued her lead role in the Starz cable drama Magic City — a part that grows more complex and interesting as creator Mitch Glazer, enthused by her work so far, gives her more to do. Her one misstep was the role of Queen of the Mermaids in Empires of the Deep, a 2010 Chinese production that aspired to rival Avatar for visual wonder but remains submerged like Atlantis beneath the murk of its own post-production. Such woes never trouble Kurylenko. Growing up in dire poverty in the Soviet Ukraine made her flexible and realistic about opportunities. If something doesn’t work out? Take it in stride, move on. Six years old when Chernobyl melted down in 1986, forbidden to play in the rain for years thereafter, she was trained by her art teacher mother and physician grandmother to be a bull-headed survivor. Money didn’t come until a chance encounter started her modeling and traveling at age 14. A French citizen now, she is based in London — the better to hone her English. Next year she’ll be school headmistress in Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, a Goth fantasy (and likely franchise) with comic undertones from writer Daniel Waters (Heathers) and director Mark Waters (Mean Girls), from the bestselling novels by Richelle Mead. She will be the female lead in November Man, a Cold War espionage-and-assassin thriller from director Roger Donaldson — both a coming-full-circle and step-up in the sense that Kurylenko will co-star with an earlier Bond, Pierce Brosnan, in a spy scenario richer with period interest, psychological layers and double-cross. Single for the moment, not yet fully settled, Kurylenko gives back for all the good fortune that has come her way by supporting a variety of charities, particularly Hopes and Homes, which carefully matches orphaned children with loving parents. Money is good — about this, she has no illusions — but given the strength she got from the women who raised her, she insists love is what matters most.
Director you hope to work with one day: Why stop at one? I’d like to work with Woody Allen, with Martin Scorsese, Lars von Trier, David Lynch — if he ever decides to make another movie! David Cronenberg? My God — the list could be endless. Just say, “And so on!” [Laughs]
Pastime or hobby you’ve taken up between takes: I love learning languages. That, for me, is the great pleasure of travel — which I also do a lot, for work, just as I read a lot for relaxation and watch a lot of films. But if I have a passionate pursuit apart from acting, it is that. If I was to stay in Japan longer, I’d be learning Japanese right now. I just love languages. I could spend my whole day just searching for words. If I had to learn a language for a movie? I would do it! I know that sounds crazy, but I wouldn’t hesitate. [Laughs] It’s the only thing I’m sure of, in my capabilities!
Given her deft people skills and astute story sense, it makes sense that Kukendall’s first ambitions combined journalism and anthropology. In her executive role, she wears many hats — consultant, project leader and liaison between filmmaker and the studio, to name a few. Even a bit of a lion tamer, at times: “Each project is unique, its own animal,” she says. With the inevitable tension between art and commerce, filmmakers use her as a sounding board and run ideas by her to assess risks. Although some in the industry worry about the studios’ increasing focus on tentpoles, Kuykendall is not among them. With the amount of money it takes to make a film, especially on a studio scale, every project is a gamble, but, she says, “Talent minimizes risk.” It’s a maxim evident in the pictures she has shepherded most recently— Soderbergh’s Contagion and Magic Mike, Affleck’s Argo, Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad. The other crucial piece of insurance is a good story. Of the twenty or more films she is managing now, she is particularly excited about a new adaptation of Stephen King’s It, to be directed by Cary Fukunaga; a Hitchcockian thriller called Trust Your Eyes; and Guillermo del Toro’s forthcoming take on Beauty and the Beast. With so much going on at work, she doesn’t have much time for a personal life, but counts herself lucky that, having grown up in Los Angeles, she is close to her family. Her love for stories began in early childhood, by which time she was already a voracious reader. Growing up, Lord of the Rings and the complete works of Nancy Drew fed her imagination, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved invited her to consider reality in a more mythic and imaginative light. In all, an ideal grounding for her immersion in Anthropology and Media Studies at Brown University. And the skills and knowledge she acquired there have helped her each step of the way — from corporate relations at Viacom, to development at Beacon, to a creative executive position at Twentieth Century Fox and, finally, to her present role at Warner Bros. “This job is a surprise,” she says, “because it uses everything.”
Most prized office possession: I have two, and can’t decide which is the more prized. One is a really cool poster of Tupac and Biggie, signed by the artist, Justin Bua. The other is the poster Jude Law carries about with him in Contagion, which reads: “Prophet vs. Profit.”
Daily website visit: The Sartorialist.
He’s not shy about his quirks: “I do a tremendous amount of writing naked.” And he doesn’t lack for confidence: “I’m very comfortable with the — maybe fantastical — notion that I could leave some sort of mark on the entertainment industry in the same way that a Joe Dante or John Carpenter or J.J. Abrams or Steven Spielberg has.” It’s an apt combo for the son of John Landis, director of Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London and other idiosyncratic hits. He and his dad even share the same birthday. Twenty-six-year-old Max first made his mark as the writer of Chronicle, although he admits only half in jest that he’s tired of talking about it — that was over a year ago, and now he’s occupied with a boatload of other prospects. Ironic, considering the University of Miami dropout failed the only screenwriting course he ever took. In addition to his fresh take on Frankenstein — to be directed by Paul (Sherlock) McGuigan — told from the perspective of Igor, to be played by Daniel Radcliffe — several other of his scripts have been bought and are headed for production. Among them: Woogles, an adventure slated for director Timur Bekmambetov; Amnesty, for Universal and Imagine; the action comedy Good Time Gang; a sequel to Chronicle; and a hush-hush project for Disney he’s not permitted to name. He has also agreed to direct Me Him Her, a sex-themed, character-driven comedy from his own script. His penchant for writing in the buff notwithstanding, he admits a weakness for loud clothes — rainbow jackets, Mad Max leather slacks — but is otherwise almost comically frugal. He drives a 2005 Honda Civic: literally his grandmother’s car. Another quirk, perhaps, but the confidence never wavers. Ask him his career goal, and he is blunt: “I want to be a brand.”
Hobbies: I love to watch wrestling. I like quiz shows.
Favorite vacation spot: Hicksville, in Joshua Tree. A very retro trailer park: dirt roads; a bizarre oasis.
Music you listen to while writing: Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Electric Light Orchestra. I’m devoted to Taylor Swift. My dream is that we’d have a — quick — dating relationship, and that she writes a really angry song about me.
Leon’s debut feature, Gimme the Loot, was a home run well in advance of its release. The edgy, energetic neorealist comedy about two young graffiti artists on a day-long quest to one-up a rival crew debuted in the Directors Fortnight sidebar at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, then took the Grand Jury Prize at South by Southwest and won earned Leon “Someone to Watch” honors at the 2013 Spirit Awards. Finally — and fittingly, given the movie’s upbeat humanity and offbeat observational style — Jonathan Demme lent his name as “presenter” when Sundance Selects released it earlier this year. Leon is grateful, but has not allowed the acclaim to go to his head. Growing up in Greenwich Village, he knew by age five he wanted to be a filmmaker, after being dazzled by Star Wars. The ambition seemed so unlikely that he half-envied those friends who simply wanted to be firemen, or rock stars. But by age eight he was busy with a Fisher-Price camera. He also got busy as a writer — relentlessly getting his ideas on paper through high school and college. After production assistant gigs on the Woody Allen pictures Melinda and Melinda and Hollywood Ending, he co-wrote and co-directed a short, Killer. Which may explain why, despite its urban, low-budget grit, Gimme the Loot has the buoyancy and confidence of a more experienced filmmaker. Now, in addition to planning his next feature, he’s developing a series for HBO. He won’t discuss it in detail — partly because he’s honoring an agreement, but also to keep his options open. Though he confirms that the basic premise begins with characters and situations from Gimme the Loot, his operative principle is: Why impose limits? It’s a philosophy that has served him well thus far.
Digital or film: I shot my short on film and thought I would never convert to digital — and yet we were able to achieve a filmic texture for Gimme the Loot that has changed my view entirely.
Ritual adhered to once your film’s wrapped: I got a tattoo when we completed Loot. Maybe that will become a ritual?
Favorite way to procrastinate: Smoking weed, listening to music.
“Don’t put me in a box” appears to be Levine’s motto. Warm Bodies looks like a zombie movie going in, but with a bright somersault becomes a touching, funny, lonely-guy-on-a-date comedy. 50/50, about a young man confronting cancer in his twenties, likewise blindsides any expectation of nobility-achieved-through-grave-illness with a biting, funny intensity and a far more believably upbeat change in its hero. The Wackness and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane also throw curves. As Levine sees it, his job isn’t to keep the audience guessing — it’s to keep executives and backers guessing, a key to creative freedom. His deeper goal is to keep surprising himself. The desire to make films developed early. At Brown University, he went at it with his intellect, studying Semiotics; he then took a more nuts-and-bolts approach, first working as personal assistant to writer-director Paul Schrader for a year, later in the directing program at AFI, where he made the connections that led to his first feature. From Schrader he picked up work tips: to fight the distractions of the internet, the Taxi Driver scribe would write screenplays on an old word processor; Levine would reconfigure the results into Final Draft. Perhaps even more valuable were the insights he acquired from listening in as Schrader navigated the deal-making end of the business. Now that Warm Bodies has become a life-altering success (after raking in over $100 million) those lessons are even handier — especially the ones about fighting distraction. Many intriguing projects are being touted on the web with Levine’s name attached as director: a dystopian-future romance, a crime drama, a murder-mystery. But he says he’s more focused on writing — planning a Christmas movie-meets-raucous-party movie, working up a pilot for Showtime set in a film school. Meanwhile, his collaborator on 50/50, Will Reiser, is writing Jamaica, a new comedy that Levine plans to direct, based on Reiser’s memories of being booked by mistake into a tropical couples resort with his increasingly disoriented grandmother. For the moment, Levine likes that you don’t know what you’re going to get from him. “That makes it hard for the marketing departments, but so be it.”
Favorite way to procrastinate: The Internet! I’m the kind of guy who has ten windows open at any given time, I’m IM’ing with five different friends — I’ve turned procrastination into an art form.
Digital or film: Film! That said, I just saw Spring Breakers and was impressed with digital for the first time. Gorgeous.
1:33, 1:85 or 2:39: Depends: I’ve more often shot widescreen, but on 50/50 we used 1:85 because it was right.
Daily website visit: Fantasy Baseball. What Would Tyler Durden Do? New York Post. Twitter, Facebook… Sorry: These are not making me sound like an intelligent person.
Ritual you adhere to once your film’s wrapped: I get really drunk. I’m not sure that’s a ritual — more of a lifestyle choice! [Laughs]
A glance at his client list — which includes Joel McHale, Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle —would suggest that Lucterhand specializes in comedy. He doesn’t deny this, but prefers instead to look beneath the hood of comedic talent — and what he finds there are self-generators. Just as Woody Allen started out as a gag writer and standup comic before expanding into Broadway plays, film directing and dramatic features, earning critical acclaim and Oscars along the way, Lucterhand is drawn to people who want a say in shaping their own destiny. It so happens that a lot of comedians also share this drive for self-invention. His job, as he sees it, is to help them take what they’re best at and develop it. It’s a process he likens to alchemy. This can mean steering actor-writer Nick Kroll through a barrage of gigs to star in his own show on Comedy Central; helping Ben Walker to balance writing his own scripts with a lead in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer, a turn on Broadway opposite Scarlett Johansson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the hosting of a monthly comedy show at New York’s Public Theater; or heeding the advice of clients Kroll, writer-actor T.J. Miller and former SNL writer John Mulaney to catch the act of Pete Holmes on a nondescript Montreal stage and from there navigate his trajectory so skillfully that he is about to host his own talk show on TBS, in the post-Conant slot. Lucterhand is also part of actor-mogul Mark Wahlberg’s busy team. The Highland Park, Illinois native joined Endeavor shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. From the mailroom he apprenticed for several years at the desks of Ari Emanuel, Tom Strickler and Patrick Whitesell. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Apart from sports — his other passion — no other field has ever stimulated Lucterhand like agenting. It was either succeed at this, he told himself, or move to Chicago and park cars at Bears games. Those cars will have to wait.
Daily website visit: The Sartorialist.
Favorite restaurant to schmooze clients: Kings Road Café (joking — but that’s my answer).
Hobbies: Chicago sports, travel with friends. Also, I maintain a sneaker collection: I’d rather not say how big.
Mace’s experience as a writer, coupled with his faith in “character first” as the driver of any good story, has made him an excellent fit as a creative exec at Appian Way — the company founded by Leonardo DiCaprio. Their projects either serve the actor’s ambitions for his own work (The Wolf of Wall Street, Shutter Island, The Aviator), or his tastes in story, with particular attention to roles that other top actors might want to play. The latter include the forthcoming Out of the Furnace and Runner Runner, which Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran and other members of the team are overseeing. Then there are Mace’s babies. He wrote the story that inspired Jaume Collet-Serra’s 2009 Orphan originated (attracting Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgard), he coproduced Catherine Hardwicke’s 2011 Red Riding Hood (ditto Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman) and now he’s concentrating on Home — a supernatural thriller from director Dennis Iliadis and writer Adam Alleca (the duo behind Last House on the Left). This hasn’t yet been cast, but the Black Listed script has an intriguing psychological edge: It centers on a man under house arrest in a house haunted by his late father. Mace’s story sense has a long history at Appian. He began there as a reader a decade ago, while still a student at UCLA. He majored in American Literature, but much of his energy was devoted to his first passion, music, playing in a rock band called Leroi. Shaping the story for Orphan and placing it with Appian promoted his fortunes within the company and pulled him away from music and into the movies, and he hasn’t looked back. Writing the treatment was a means to an end: Mace sees himself as a creative producer; nowadays his work with narrative takes the form of helping filmmakers get their stories told, in optimal form. When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his wife, Emily Daniels (whom he married in Jamaica in 2010), and their baby daughter. Otherwise his work is so consuming that he almost never picks up a guitar anymore. Beyond Home, he looks forward to developing a live-action version of Akira — a dystopian story based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga graphic novel — for which Mace and DiCaprio have long shared a passion.
Most prized office possession: A jar of “Dolomite,” the substance they use to make fake snow on film sets. We were filming Red Riding Hood in ninety-degree heat, and I remember thinking this was the fakery and the magic that movies are all about.
Daily website visit: What Would Tyler Durden Do.
Most unusual place you’ve found material: A buddy who has nothing to do with the movie business randomly introduced me to his brother-in-law, a TV writer. We hit it off, stayed in touch over the years, and just got together over an idea of his that is now being set up at HBO.
Saving Mr. Banks, her comic take on the turbulent partnership between Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers, won a place on The Black List, secured Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson for leads and, prior to its release later this year, is already being buzzed about for Oscars. What’s more, it landed Marcel the much-coveted assignment of adapting E.L. James’s ultra-steamy bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey. To cartwheel from P.L. Travers to E.L. James only sounds like a stretch until you consider the range in Marcel’s background. Born to a showbiz family in south London (her father, Terry, is a filmmaker, her younger sister, Rosie, an actress), she began her own career in front of the cameras — at age three she was eaten by an extraterrestrial in Alien Prey, a 1978 picture her dad produced — and continued acting into her late twenties, mostly doing small roles on British TV until 2002, when she decided to get a day job in a video store and teach herself to write. Her musical version of Debbie Does Dallas succeeded on the London stage in 2007. She then script-doctored Bronson for director Nicolas Winding Refn, and that led to a collaborative friendship with the film’s star, Tom Hardy, with whom she’s formed a company: Bad Dog. Snippets from Candy Chops — a TV pilot they co-created — are afloat on the web, but otherwise both have been too busy to do much together, though Hardy now sports a tattoo that says SKRIBE on his upper arm, with the explanation that the “K” stands for Kelly. Shortly afterward, Marcel was launched in the U.S. when she sold Steven Spielberg her pilot script for the TV series Terra Nova (2011). Now, with the Poppins project wrapped and 50 Shades headed into production, she has now been lured aboard Joe Wright’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Her life apart from writing is so devoid of spare time that for the moment her most vociferous extracurricular passions include cake (any kind of cake) and dogs.
Favorite way to procrastinate: I will do anything to get out of starting a script. Washing up suddenly becomes a joy. The blank page is my enemy, and it’s not until there is nothing left to procrastinate about that I begin.
One ally ambitious talents such as Lena Dunham, writer-director-producer-star of Girls; Young Il Kim, writer of Rodham; and Lauren Miller, writer-producer-star, and Katie Naylon, writer-producer, of For a Good Time Call, have in common is this equally enterprising advocate at their back. Maryasis is first to point out that she’s but one of many in the chorus at UTA who make a group effort on behalf of every client. Though a loyal collaborator, she has a knack for locating, assessing and attracting new talent on her own. Born in Brooklyn to Russian parents in the early ’80s, she learned at a young age to balance what she calls the dogmatic legacy of the U.S.S.R. — You Are On Your Own — with the spirit of teamwork she discovered in American schools. Her path to Hollywood could not have been more random. Originally aimed at law school, with an eye toward international relations (she speaks four languages, and foresaw careers either at the U.N. or the World Bank), Maryasis took time off from her thesis on U.S./Iranian foreign policy during a year abroad at Oxford to accept a summer internship at the Gersh Agency — which she’d pursued to augment her resume with some real-world negotiating experience. The job proved so kindred to her energy and curiosity that (after an informative stint as production assistant on the Michael Keaton film Game 6) she started in the UTA mailroom the fall after her graduation. Three years later, in 2007, she was promoted to agent. In the year ahead, she is most excited about the prospects for Chilean director Sebastian Silva, who has two new films out — Magic Magic and Crystal Fairy, both of which premiered at Sundance — and writer-director Ned Benson, whose twin features The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hers unravel the rashomon of a marriage between James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain from deeply opposed points of view. In potential clients, Maryasis sparks to energy, passion and clear-headed excellence-in-the-room, assuming a unique voice and vision are already evident in the work. When time permits, she loves to travel, and to try the weirdest food she can find. Her latest discovery: a tiny restaurant in Kyoto, Japan, manned by a hunter who serves only what he’s killed that week. For Maryasis, this meant imbibing sour moonshine liquor with a dead snake at the bottom of the bottle. She didn’t bat an eye.
Fave restaurant to schmooze clients: Osteria Mozza.
Hobbies: Cooking — I love to explore out of the way markets for ingredients.
Secret creative talent: I’m really good at home decor. I help a lot of my friends with ideas for furniture, wallpaper, paint and tile. This is something I heartily enjoy. I can get lost talking about paint color.
Daily website visit: Theatre L.A., Daily Mail in the U.K. I find all of the Mail’s stories absurd, and extremist, so as a result, entertaining. They always have their pulse on the best gossip.
With his first book coming out and two films going into production, 2013 looks like a big year for McDowell. His full plate is the payoff for years of effort: Fighting Jacob, a romantic comedy about a young boxer battling obsessive-compulsive disorder, written by Justin Lader, was originally announced a year ago, but is now set for December. In the meantime — not content to wait —he’ll direct a new Lader script immediately: The One I Love, a comedy about a young married couple and their therapist, starring Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass (who is also exec-producing) and McDowell’s real-life stepfather, Ted Danson. Like a few others on this list, McDowell was born into the business: his mother is Mary Steenburgen, his father Malcolm McDowell. Growing up, he rebelled as best he could by refusing to become an actor. Growing up in the Shangri-la of Ojai, California, his greatest passion was surfing. One day, a buddy brought an underwater camera to the beach, and Charlie took charge, staging little scenes: first in the water, then on the sand, then in the parking lot. Before the sun had set, he was newly determined to be a director. A restless and contrarian student up to that point — he’d studied Ancient Greek solely to have an impressive marker in his resume, but laughs now that he could kick himself because it’s not a language anybody actually speaks — filmmaking gave him new focus. In 2006, a few weeks shy of his twenty-third birthday, in 2006 he became the youngest-ever graduate of the Directing Fellowship at AFI. His thesis short, Bye Bye Benjamin, became his ticket to writing assignments — one of which, an untitled comedy set aboard a cruise ship – he plans to make in the future. During the half-dozen years that McDowell was at work on these projects, he maintained a busy Twitter account that as of this writing has a following of over 93,000. One thread has been a running account of his upstairs neighbors and their high-decibel cell-phone conversations. His descriptions of them, accompanied by droll replies or digressions, proved so popular that they inspired a book of humorous fiction, Dear Girls Above Me: Inspired by a True Story, which was published by Crown in June.
Book that changed your life: I don’t know if “life-changing” applies, but I love the work of David Sedaris. His books are filled with a humor that inspires me, and which my book tonally follows.
Favorite vacation destination: Martha’s Vineyard.
He entered the arena under exceptionally challenging circumstances — taking over the title role in the Starz series Spartacus after its original lead, Andy Whitfield, fell ill with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the end of the first season. McIntyre filled the hero’s armor in his own magnetic way. True to the unforced warmth he projects onscreen and in person, he also formed a friendship with Whitfield prior to the actor’s death. His fresh take on the part proved so attention-getting that once that show concluded its final run earlier this year, he flew straight to Bulgaria to work with director Renny Harlin on Hercules 3-D, where, despite the comparable armor and combat, the goal is to create a character with a very different back story and bearing than Spartacus. Beyond such rapid-fire opportunities, McIntyre is thinking long range, and has formed his own production company, Ardent Films. Born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1982, he was a plump, self-described dorky kid devoted to videogames and singing, for which he has a trained voice. He discovered acting by his late teens, but studied business at Victoria’s Deakin University, which gave him an appreciation for the commercial side of a career in the arts. He went on to rack up stage, short film and TV credits, and drew the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast McIntyre in the Iwo Jima sequence of his HBO miniseries The Pacific. That, and several other impressive turns — particularly as a Russian mobster in Radev, a short that drew attention on YouTube, and Ektopus, a feature in which he played a starved, rake-thin space-traveler — combined to win him Spartacus, although to secure the part, he had to beef up at gladiator boot camp. McIntyre, who maintains that regime now, has moved to Los Angeles with his fiancée, singer Erin Hasan. He takes great care to stay loyal not only to those he loves, but those who’ve helped him. Despite being approached by larger agencies, he is resolute in standing by his original team of representatives. Small wonder he does so well in heroic parts. On breaks from acting, he works on scripts for thrillers and romantic comedies, and in his down time, he indulges his other passion, videogames.
One person, dead or alive, who’s inspired your work the most: Artistically: Daniel Day-Lewis. Personally: Ben Conway, my step-dad. He’s passed now, but embodied respect, care — love — and was the most important influence of my life.
Director you hope to work with one day: P.T. Anderson, David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky — but hold on! Clint Eastwood is someone I would love to work with — indeed, you could put him at the head of the list.
Band or singer you’re obsessed with: The Beatles. A strange choice, perhaps, but it’s just true. After them? Metallica! An even stranger choice in context, but there you are!
One thing people may not know about you: That I’m not tough! [Laughs] After Spartacus, everybody thinks I’m going to be some sort of badass. But no, I’m a completely boring guy. I’ve never tasted Coca-Cola. That surprises people. The fact that I’ve never been drunk surprises people. “Kind of boring!” [Laughs]