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It was appropriate that the world premiere of Rules Don’t Apply, set during Hollywood’s Golden Age, took place at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood’s best-known movie palace.
The Warren Beatty-directed feature, which opened this year’s AFI Fest (running from Nov. 10-17 in Hollywood), follows a young chauffeur and aspiring actress who both find themselves subjected to the whims of their eccentric employer, Howard Hughes.
“The 1950s are very alluring and very sexy, because they are mysterious. We know more now because of the different outlets we have. Things just weren’t as open back then,” said Lily Collins, who plays the film’s resident starlet, about the appeal of old Hollywood.
She concedes: “The undergarments were extremely uncomfortable.”
For Rules Don’t Apply, Beatty assembled a massive ensemble cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Matthew Broderick and Candice Bergen, as well as his Bulworth co-star Oliver Platt and his wife Annette Bening.
Collins explains that — in addition to the A-list talent in the cast — set visits from Hollywood royalty like Al Pacino and Nicolas Cage were common. She said: “Alden and I were like, ‘Um, did you know they were behind the camera?’ And thank god we didn’t because we would have been totally nervous.”
Alden Ehrenreich believes his character, Frank, a driver with big aspirations, is an amalgam of people Beatty knew from his early years in Hollywood, having first arrived in 1958.
“I think the greatest thing is Warren has been dogged and uncompromising in the way he wants to handle things. He does not buck to pressure. He makes a movie exactly how he wants,” explained Ehrenreich of his director.
This mentality is evident in the making of Rule Don’t Apply, which Beatty spent years to develop. (Ehrenreich: “I had, like, a five-year audition process with him for this part.”) It is also the first time Beatty has been seen onscreen in a starring role since his 1998 political comedy Bulworth.
“Something that is appealing to me about old Hollywood is job security. Now every time you finish a movie you have to start from scratch,” Ehrenreich said of the old studio system.
The 26-year-old actor — whose other credits include the Coen Bros.’ latest, Hail, Caesar! — doesn’t have to worry about job security for a little while. He will soon go into production on Disney’s Han Solo stand-alone, as the Star Wars prequel’s resident scruffy-looking Nerfherder.
Beatty shot to stardom at a young age with roles in movies like Splendor in the Grass, opposite Natalie Wood, and Bonnie and Clyde, opposite Faye Dunaway.
When asked if Beatty offered him any advice on navigating his soon-to-be superstar status, Ehrenreich said: “It’s not so much anything explicit in his advice. But seeing his approach to the kind of success he encountered at a really young age has been really empowering for me.”
Rules Don’t Apply hits theaters Nov. 23.
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