Interviews

Matthew McCrory the technical director of Flushed Away

When you go to the new animated film “Flushed Away,” which opened last week, it’s going to be hard to pick out Matthew McCrory’s work.

The West Dundee native is not a voice; that would be the work of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Bill Nighy and Ian McKellen. Nor is McCrory one of the film’s animators. His title reads “technical director.” Don’t worry, the question of what a tech director does was my first to him.

And there’s a reason you see only images from “Flushed Away” for this article — technical directors just don’t do headshots.

Bayer: What does a technical director do?
McCrory: (Laughing) I get asked that a lot. It’s not always the most straightforward thing to answer. It’s a range of responsibilities. Whenever an artist might not be able to

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Rupert Grint, Ron Weasley from Harry Potter

The shaggy red hair will get this 18-year-old recognized for years to come, thanks to his wizard friend Harry Potter, who does battle against a guy we shouldn’t name. But Rupert Grint is shaking the role of Ron Weasley (just temporarily, I promise) to star in his first leading role.

Grint’s new film, “Driving Lessons,” which just opened in the area, features him as Ben, a quiet boy with an overbearing mother (Laura Linney). Die-hard Harry Potter fans also will recognize Grint’s co-star Julie Walters. She stars as Mrs. Weasley in the Potter films, but here she’s Evie, an out-of-work actress who hires Ben to assist her in her daily life, which includes driving.

A road trip ensues, which sends Ben on a trip to find out who he is and how

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Todd Phillips the director of School for Scoundrels

Most people under the age of 35 should recognize the following movie quote:

“Well, alright, let me be the first to congratulate you then. You get one vagina for the rest of your life. Real smart Frank. Way to work it through.”

That, of course, is Beanie (Vince Vaughn) from “Old School.” Todd Phillips, the man who co-wrote and directed the film, is giving us another comedy, “School for Scoundrels”, which opens Sept. 29.

This time, Phillips directs Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite”) as Roger, a dejected traffic cop trying to get up the courage to ask out his neighbor Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). Roger enrolls in a secret confidence-building course run by Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton).

Problem is, once Roger starts gaining some self-esteem, Dr. P moves in on Amanda. The rest of the

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for Gridiron Gang

If I said I interviewed Dwayne Johnson, few people would raise an eyebrow. If I said I interviewed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, you’d know which eyebrow I was talking about. Until now, Johnson mainly has stuck with action films such as “The Rundown” and “Walking Tall.” His new film, “Gridiron Gang,” puts him in unfamiliar territory, playing a correctional officer trying to change the lives of juvenile inmates through football.

I sat down with Johnson at the Four Seasons Hotel while he was in town promoting the film. While talking with him, I realized this is the one film of which he is most proud, and it sounded like he really appreciates his role’s potential for helping turn kids around.

“Gridiron Gang” is based on the true story of detention camp probation

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Aaron Kaplan the producer of You, Me and Dupree

Aaron Kaplan had a dream – to make a film about the friction created from a slacker who moves in with his newlywed friend. Time for a new dream, Aaron.

Kaplan is the executive-producer of this summer’s comedy “You, Me and Dupree,” starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon. He’s also a Chicago native. Kaplan grew up in Old Town, made the move to Highland Park in his teenage years and then went to Northwestern University.

Now Kaplan is half of Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment (along with Sean Perrone). He manages writers and directors in TV and film and has six other films in development. In the future look for a comedy named “Made of Honor” and a horror film called “Dead Asleep.”

Kaplan found a moment in-between his Hollywood lunches to have a

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Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, directors of Little Miss Sunshine

Co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have been working together for more than 20 years doing videos for R.E.M, the Ramones, Weezer and the Smashing Pumpkins. They’ve shot commercials for Volkswagen, Apple and ESPN. Now their first feature film, “Little Miss Sunshine,” is generating some huge buzz.

This ensemble dramedy features Greg Kinnear (“As Good as It Gets), Toni Collette (“About a Boy”), Steve Carell (“The 40 Year Old Virgin”), Alan Arkin (“Slums of Beverly Hills”), Paul Dano (“Fast Food Nation”) and Abigal Breslin (“Signs”).

The film is about a dysfunctional family which goes on a road trip to help Olivia (Breslin) enter the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. It took Dayton and Faris 5 years (and only 30 days of shooting) to put together. Amazingly, the directors were able to get

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Larry Clark the director of Wassup Rockers

Director/screenwriter Larry Clark, who broke into the movie business with his controversial 1995 film “Kids,” is back with another film about the youth of America.

“Wassup Rockers” is set in South Central and Beverly Hills, focusing on a group of Latino kids who wear tight pants, skateboard, listen to punk rock and who inevitably don’t fit into the hip hop culture that surrounds them. The story is based on real life experiences, and none of the kids in the film has acting experience.

Before Clark started making movies, he was a photographer, capturing teen subculture with his photo books Tulsa and Teenage Lust. He never strayed far from controversy, teenagers or trying to make authentic films.

Clark sat down with Bayer early one morning at the Peninsula Hotel to talk about the film

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Patrick Creadon the director of Wordplay

Chicago-native Patrick Creadon’s first feature film, a documentary called “Wordplay,” shows us the world of crossword puzzles and the puzzlers who attempt and obsess over them. Will Shortz, New York Times puzzle editor and the NPR Puzzle Master, is one of them. We meet him as well as famous faces, such as Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton, who’ve fallen for the crossword.

The culmination of “Wordplay” is the 2005 Crossword Puzzle Championships. But Creadon’s personal high point of making the film might’ve been seeing his movie on the marquee with “Mission Impossible 3” and the “DaVinci Code.”

Creadon runs through a list when asked about some of his favorite Chicago things, including: cheeseburgers at Billy Goat, Wrigley Field, 16-inch softball leagues in River Forest, Johnny’s Beef and Duey’s Pizza. He grew up in Riverside and attended Fenwick High School in

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Jason Reitman the director of Thank you for Smoking

I sat down with the writer/director Jason Reitman to talk about this new film Thank You For Smoking. He was in good spirits and he should have been, the film is getting great reviews and for a first time director to pull off this fantastic ensemble piece is quite an accomplishment.

On Smoking

Reitman doesn’t smoke. He tired it when he was 15, but he said it just hurt too much. After this film he said sarcastically that he got some inside information and it turns out smoking isn’t good for you. But then again he said the Giordano’s pizza he had for lunch would probably kill him sooner.

On being a first time promoter

Reitman has been on tour with this film for quite a while. The best part for Reitman is the food

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‘Tsotsi’ interview with Gavin Hood

I sat down with writer/director Gavin Hood of the Oscar nominated foreign film “Tsotsi.” Hood had the energy of a kid of a sugar-high even though he had been talking to the press for five hours until I showed up. We talked about the film, the characters, the Oscar buzz and even MacGyver. Hood is quiet the talker, and we […]

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