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Paul Feig the director of Unaccompanied Minors

He’s got on a suit, a vest, a tie and nicely framed glasses. Some things in the universe just make sense. Paul Feig looks exactly like the type of guy you would hope create a show as great as “Freaks and Geeks.” It all fits, cool geek.

Since “Freaks and Geeks” was canceled, the author and director has kept busy, and that’s the way he wants it. While we sat down together at the Peninsula Hotel, he talked about his drive to constantly be working. He made an independent film, “I am David,” and directed numerous episodes of “Arrested Development” and “The Office.” Now, his first studio film, “Unaccompanied Minors,” just opened. The film is about a group of kids who get stuck at a Chicago airport over the holidays.

Feig talks

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Will Smith from The Pursuit of Happyness

“Independence Day,” “Men in Black.” “Enemy of the State.” … Will Smith. He is big-budget blockbuster. Even his first Oscar nomination was portraying a man larger than life — Muhammad Ali. Now he has found a different path, and he brought his son (Jaden Smith) along for the ride. Don’t worry, he’ll be back doing blockbusters such as “I Am Legend.”

But now it’s time for “The Pursuit of Happyness” — which opens Dec.15 — the real-life story of Chris Gardener, a father who struggles in poverty while taking care of his son and his attempts to rise above. And yes, if you’re curious, Smith is really that good at the Rubik’s Cube.

The day after he was on “Oprah” in November, I had a chance to join in a round

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Darren Aronofsky the director of The Fountain

Darren Aronofsky is not your normal Hollywood director, if there is such a thing. In 1998 he came out with “Pi,” a low-budget film about the over-analyzing of numbers. In 2000 Aronofsky directed Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Ellen Burstyn in the dark, disturbing “Requiem for a Dream.” It remains one of the best cinematic showcases of destruction drug addictions.

“The Fountain” is Aronofsky’s latest, but it has taken awhile to get the film to theaters. Originally, Brad Pitt was signed on and the budget was much bigger. But now with Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz (Aronofsky’s girlfriend) and a budget of $35 million, “The Fountain” is set to release Wednesday, Nov. 22. The easiest way to describe the film is to say it’s a love story, adventure, drama and

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Richard Linklater the director of Fast Food Nation

As different as “Fast Food Nation” is from “Dazed and Confused,” “Newton Boys,” “Before Sunset” and “School of Rock” they all have one thing in common — Richard Linklater.

Normally, a director is labeled a comedic director (Todd Phillips) or an action director (Michael Bay) yet Linklater is able to jump from drama to comedy to science-fiction (“A Scanner Darkly”).

In his newest film, which will open in Chicago on Nov. 17, he takes on the fast food industry. But this isn’t just about a couple of extra pounds we pack on eating fries. “Fast Food Nation” is based on the non-fiction book from Eric Schlosser and takes a look at working conditions, the food the animals eat, and a kill floor.

Linklater and I sat around an enormous 20-person oval table at

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Joey Lauren Adams the director of Come Early Morning

With all the voices in Hollywood, it’s hard to stand out. But when you hear the squeaky, typically quiet voice of Joey Lauren Adams, you immediately know who you are talking to. The actress from “Chasing Amy” and “Dazed & Confused” has decided to put a pause on acting and focus her attention behind the camera. Adams has written and directed “Come Early Morning” (due November 10).

I had a chance to sit down with Adams at the James Hotel and discuss the process of making the film that started more than seven years ago. It stars Ashley Judd as Lucy, a woman who goes through the motions of life and love. Lucy has the responsibility of taking care of her grandparents, dealing with her estranged father and losing track of

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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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