Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: I know you guys said that Uncut Gems had been in your head for 10 years, this idea of telling the story with Howard. So, was this a guy that you recognize from your own personal experience? Why was Howard this character that you were always continually writing over the years? Benny Safdie: In a weird way, the writing part of it is strange, because you have a 10-year project, you have this thing; it s kind of like a receptacle for all of your ideas and your life. It becomes a character that becomes analogous. As a filmmaker who is hustling, trying to get work, trying to get this made, you can t help but try to do whatever you have to do to get to see your dream come to fruition – so you can relate to Howard in that regards. But Howard, there was something about the relentlessness about Howard s pursuit of his own dream. That and the fact that he was trying to not only realize his dream against all circumstances, but also that he was able to be a provider, that he was this guy who provided for all these people around him. He was a world-creator, and he was a vanguard world-creator. Just the idea that Howard was somebody who was never going to stop in pursuit of his dream, and knowing that, in the end, it s going to be good for everybody. You know what I mean? There s something about that, that was very helpful.Josh Safdie: And I ll just add one thing, that he is, almost in a weird way, kind of this archetypal character of a dreamer, but also there s this kind of Jewishness to him. There s all of these characters and literature and movies that it was a feeling of, OK, I want to add to that. I want to build up a guy who was like these people that I ve kind of admired, looked at. Rotten Tomatoes: Talk about casting Adam Sandler as this man you had built up. Benny: Sandler was paramount, always. He s the only person who can make Howard lovable and also infuse the character s insane optimism as a gambler with a humor, with an element of humor, with an air of humor. The humor is so important to the way the film functions. Yes, it s this very tense film that s literally, like, your heart feels like it s going to implode because it s such a tense thriller. But without that comic relief that Sandler so effortlessly infuses into Howard, the movie just does not function. And Howard is, he s a patriarch, and so is Sandler.Josh: Also, whenever Sandler is in a movie, you root for him in the face of the most absurd situations. You really believe the things are happening to him and he s feeling them. So, in this in particular, you need to be rooting for Howard to succeed, because again, all of the things fall into place after that. You know, you could not like him, but you are loving him. And if you re yelling at the screen, you are yelling at him to not do things. And you only do that to people who you want to see good things happen to.Rotten Tomatoes: This movie has gotten everybody all kinds of excited, but people have seen Good Time. They know how tense you guys are. Give me a quick one-liner to prep folks for what they should expect going into the film.Josh: I think they can expect an immersive, thrilling experience that will keep you laughing on the edge of your seat to the point that you fall down and you sit on someone else s popcorn.Benny: Yeah. And you will also hope we have the feeling of actually moving to the edge of your seat.Uncut Gems is in theaters everywhere.
It’s been three years since Renée Zellweger last graced the big screen in Bridget Jones’ Baby, and she couldn’t have chosen a better project for her big return than Judy, the unconventional Judy Garland biopic that follows the entertainer during her late-in-life London residency. As Judy, Zellweger is astonishing, delivering a performance that captures Garland’s star power and struggles, her dynamism and distress, but is never an impersonation; pundits are saying Zellweger will be hard to beat come awards season, and it’s hard to argue with them. Ahead of the movie’s theatrical release, Zellweger sat down with Rotten Tomatoes to reveal how she became Judy for the Certified Fresh film, from her deep research to the intense vocal training that would allow her voice to soar over that rainbow.