ShoWest award recipients
EmptyShoWest talent spotlight
"Embarrassing," Bruckheimer jokes about his ShoWest Lifetime Achievement Award. "It means it's over." Hardly. The super-producer who made his name with 1980s hits "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop" has never been hotter. In the summer he'll unveil two potential franchises ("Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"), plus he's in production on a fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" and has dozens of film and TV projects in development. A product of working-class Detroit, Bruckheimer says he owes his Hollywood longevity to the same philosophy that has guided him since his days making films with his late partner Don Simpson. "I try to figure out what everyone else is doing -- and not do that," he says. "I made a pirate movie when no one would make one. We're doing a sword-and-sandals movie when nobody is doing those." Firmly planted at Disney with one of the richest producer deals in town, Bruckheimer says he likes what he's seen so far from new studio chief Rich Ross. "He's made some interesting changes with the team," Bruckheimer says. "For instance, I'm showing 'Persia' to the park imagineers to see if they get some ideas on how to incorporate it, and I've never done that before."
-- Matthew Belloni
What's the secret to a winning ensemble? "It's alchemy," says "Sex and the City 2" star and executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker. "But it's also how we feel about each other. At this point, we've spent more time together than we have with other people in our lives." For May's sequel to the $415 million worldwide grosser "SATC," Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis spent two months in Marrakech working on what is said to be a caper film. "It was like summer camp," Cattrall recalls. "I remember it was Thanksgiving and we thought we'd be wrapped by then, but of course we weren't. We were in the middle of the desert in these tents with a British cook who wasn't used to making turkey and stuffing. But it was one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had."
-- Zorianna Kit
Roach has helmed two of the most successful comedy franchises in memory ("Austin Powers," "Meet the Parents"). This year, he returns with "Dinner for Schmucks," starring Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and fellow ShoWest honoree Zach Galifianakis, as well as December's third installment of "Parents." -- Zorianna Kit
THR: Have you always been interested in movies?
Roach: In college, I worked my way through school as a projectionist and ultimately running a film series. That changed everything.
THR: Any films stand out for you in your former job?
Roach: I was a projectionist for a Japanese film series and there were incredible films by Ozu and particularly Kurosawa that turned my head. I loved "Throne of Blood" and "Ran" and "Rashomon."
THR: When was the last time you cried at a movie?
Roach: I found "An Education" very heartbreaking. My wife (musician Susanna Hoffs) and I are real blubberers. We don't just cry, we sob. When Carey Mulligan's character has given up her whole chance at going to a good school and realizes she's fallen for all the lies ... I empathized with her.
THR: You're known as a comedy guy. Is there a genre you're dying to tackle?
Roach: I've always been drawn to films that are about how we set up our governments or our civilization. I did "Recount" two years ago for HBO about the 2000 election. It was certainly not something people would have expected me to do. I'd love to do more films like that.
Smith is the scion of Hollywood royalty but he's intent on succeeding on his own merits. The 11-year-old star of June's "Karate Kid" remake prepared for months for his role. "His hard work and responsiveness made him look as if he had trained for 10 years as opposed to a few months," the film's director Harald Zwart says. After co-starring with dad Will in 2006's "Pursuit of Happyness," Smith's family collaboration continues with "Kid," which dad produced, and with "Amulet," in which younger sister Willow co-stars.
-- Alexis Zotos
Zach Galifianakis, Comedy Star of the Year
He's been a working comic for years, but thanks to "The Hangover," Galifianakis and his bushy beard are bona fide movie stars. This year he co-stars with Robert Downey Jr. in "Due Date," directed by "Hangover" filmmaker and ShoWest honoree Todd Phillips, and "Dinner for Schmucks" for another ShoWest honoree, Jay Roach.
THR: How are you handling fame?
Galifianakis: It's a little bit strange. But I'm 40 years old. If I were in my 20s, this whole thing would probably freak me out. Don't worry, though, I'm sure I'll f*** this up somehow.
THR: If this success came to you at 20, what do you think you'd have done?
Galifianakis: I'd have probably built a swimming pool in Central Park -- without getting a permit.
THR: If "The Hangover" hadn't happened, what would you be doing now?
Galifianakis: I was making a living doing stand-up, but I wouldn't have done it for much longer. I bought a farm and was trying to figure out how to be a farmer. I was just gonna grow food, shoot squirrels and live off my land. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that.
THR: Do you remember the first R-rated movie you saw in a theater?
Galifianakis: "Hot Dog ... The Movie" (1984). I went with my friend but I told my mom I was gonna go see "Yentl." She knew what we did. She picked us up at the theater afterward and was like, "How was 'Yentl'?" She wanted a full report. I was like, "Well, you know mom, they're really not our people."
Warner Bros., Worldwide Boxoffice Achievement Award
How successful has Warner Bros. been lately at the global boxoffice? Last year's haul of $4 billion was the largest of any studio. Ever. And that record bested Warners' own worldwide boxoffice mark of $3.66 billion from 2007. The Burbank studio has broken those marks by relying increasingly on international grosses, which can now contribute more than half of the studio's annual theatrical haul. "Look at 'Harry Potter,' " notes international distribution topper Veronika Kwan-Rubinek. "We've been doubling the domestic gross on the 'Potter' films internationally." Both Kwan-Rubinek and her domestic counterpart Dan Fellman cite the studio's global approach to release strategy as a key component of success -- as well as the stability that comes from being one of the biggest and most storied players in Hollywood. "We are the most consistent studio in the history of our business," Fellman says. "Domestically, we have exceeded $1 billion 10 out of 11 years, and the last nine years in a row. Nobody has done this."
-- Matthew Belloni
Since transitioning from TV to film star in "Knocked Up" (2007), Heigl has become one of the rare actresses with boxoffice prowess. She returns in the June adventure comedy "Killers."
THR: Do opening weekends make you nervous?
Heigl: Yeah, kind of. I wish it didn't because obviously at the end of the day, I realize that I can't control that aspect of the business. But it's still nerve-racking waiting to hear how the film did, especially because not only is it important to my career but there are a lot of people depending on it to do well and I'm always nervous about letting them down. But I certainly celebrate like crazy if it does well.
THR: What is going to surprise people about your performance in "Killers"?
Heigl: I think that there is much more physical comedy than anything I have done previously. I had a great time making it so I hope that translates.
THR: With so many female-targeted films scoring lately at the boxoffice, do you see studios wanting to make more for that audience?
Heigl: I hope so but I think that boxoffice success is largely cyclical. The fact that something may be performing well today doesn't necessarily mean it would have the same success down the road. But I'll keep making them hoping they haven't fallen out of favor!
Worthington savors the little perks of stardom. Since "Avatar" became the highest-grossing movie of all time, the Australian actor gets hassled less at the airport when he travels back and forth to the U.S. "Before it came out, when I told them I was shooting a movie called 'Avatar,' they'd give me a hard time," Worthington says. "Since the film's release, it's been a lot easier to get through customs." The "Terminator Salvation" star next appears as Perseus in April's "Clash of the Titans" remake. "I wear a lovely-looking dress, my pink legs were browned up and I run around with a rubber sword," he jokes. Worthington has become adept at acting without any real people or objects in front of him, perhaps because he doesn't mind having to visualize his environment. "Acting is diving into other worlds, expanding your imagination and letting it run wild," he says. "And acting with nothing is the ultimate use of the imagination. I get a thrill out of that."
-- Zorianna Kit
Todd Phillips, Director of the Year
After directing the raucous comedies "Road Trip," "Old School" and "Starsky & Hutch," Phillips' "The Hangover" last summer became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time ($480 million worldwide). For his encore, he reteams with "Hangover" co-star Zach Galifianakis on November's "Due Date," which also stars Robert Downey Jr.
THR: Do your movies have a common theme?
Phillips: They're about holding on to your youth or putting off responsibility as long as possible.
THR: Have you been putting off that choice?
Phillips: I'm definitely getting closer to that fork in the road and I'm trying to push it back a little. But if you look at the films I've made, they age with me. It would be hard for me to make "Road Trip" today.
THR: You make cameos as a guy in a track suit. Who is he?
Phillips: That's an alter ego, not a character. We call him Mr. Creepy. His real name is Barry. He also makes an appearance in "Due Date" where he ends up with Juliette Lewis, who's back playing her character from "Old School." It's only understood by me and a few people around me.
THR: What's your fondest memory of going to the movies as a kid?
Phillips: I remember getting a guy to buy tickets for me and my friends to (1983's) "Star 80." I approached many 30-year-old men when I was 12. Now I've turned into that man. There's nothing I hate more than kids buying tickets to other movies and then sneaking into an R-rated film. Then the wrong movie gets the receipt! So I'm happy to buy tickets for 12-year-olds and walk them into the movie.
Seyfried isn't quite convinced she's reached star status -- or if she even knows what that means. "I don't feel like anyone knows what my last name is or how to spell it," she says. But audiences got a tutorial with the surprise success of February's romantic drama "Dear John" ($75 million), which came on the heels of Seyfried's star turn opposite Meryl Streep in 2008's worldwide mega-hit "Mamma Mia!" The Pennsylvania native, who put off college to make 2004's "Mean Girls" and never looked back, returns this month with the art house feature "Chloe," and in May with "Letters to Juliet," also aimed at young women. "The best feeling is making people want to be in love or making people cry or laugh or feel something," she says.
-- Alexis Zotos
Stars of Tomorrow:
It's not easy breaking away from a blockbuster franchise. The three "High School Musical" films introduced Hudgens as the lovable Gabriella Montez but she never wanted them to define her as an actress. "It was definitely hard," says the Salinas, Calif., native. "Directors would just see me as the girl from 'High School Musical.' " But after scoring critical notices for her performances in last summer's "Band Slam," the offer to co-topline CBS Films' summer romantic comedy "Beastly" came soon after. Yes, the reworking of "Beauty and the Beast" is set in high school, but for Hudgens the film -- and next year's Zack Snyder fantasy "Sucker Punch" -- is just the start of her acting journey. "I'm just taking things slow and steady," she says. "It's a lot of fun, seeing where this crazy ride is slowly taking me."
-- Jenna Frimmel
Pettyfer starred in an ad campaign for Burberry, but to prepare for his monstrous role in "Beastly" he knew he'd need to drop any concerns about vanity. "I decided not to wear a bald cap and I shaved my head," says the British actor, who also held his own opposite Mickey Rourke and Ewan McGregor in 2006's "Stormbreaker." "When you change a person's image, you can take away their security and how they feel. That helped me prepare for the part." Turning 20 in April, Pettyfer says he hopes the role opposite Vanessa Hudgens will open doors for him in Hollywood. But if not, he's fine with that, too. "I live in the now and hope that tomorrow will bring me another movie, but if it doesn't, at least I'm very proud of the movie I've done right now."
-- Jenna Frimmel