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trouble with the curve

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so remember all you JT fans, Trouble with the curve will be available to own/ rent tomorrow! available on iTunes after midnight as well. so go support Justin and Amy adams and be sure to pick it up. I’ll have caps for you all to enjoy tomorrow.

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Since deciding to make a move into the acting world, Justin Timberlake has been slowly building a portfolio of interesting roles. He’s shown his acting chops in The Social Network and his comedic talents in Saturday Night Live, and combines the two in The Trouble With The Curve, joining Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood.

Adams, meanwhile, has an impressive career for someone so young. She’s already been nominated for three Oscars, with the possibility of a fourth for her incredible performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

The two young stars joined me and a small group of journalists, to talk about working with each other and the legendary Clint Eastwood.

So, being a fan of Clint Eastwood… were you nervous going toe-to-toe with him?

JT: I wasn’t really a huge fan. {laughing} I’m getting that question a lot. The only real answer that I do have for working with Clint, is, you know, you have an impression in your mind of what you think Clint is going to be like and it’s obviously based on the, like, this grrrr. It’s a testament to his work as an actor not just a director, his work as an actor from decades and decades of kind of amazing work that he’s been able to build an iconic leading man persona out of his characters that have that sort of tough and gruff thing. I’m sure Amy would attest that he’s like a teddy bear.

AA: He’s so warm.

Doesn’t he treat women differently than men because he’s such a flirt…

AA: I don’t know. I had such a different experience because I was playing his disgruntled daughter so I had to lose the intimidation factor pretty quickly in order to go toe-to-toe. I think it helped that I first knew him from Paint Your Wagon. Growing up, I was really into musicals so I knew him as like a singing cowboy and then I knew from him Bridges of Madison County. For me, he was like this hot hunky drifter-singing cowboy…

JT: You had your own set of butterflies.

AA: Yeah, had my own set. He’s still got it. I shouldn’t say that; I was playing his daughter. It’s weird. But I think having to play in the nature of our roles, I had to lose that intimidation pretty quickly in order to be able to do the scenes with him and feel empowered.

He’s famously efficient and you’re a famous perfectionist, how did that go together? Did you want to have another try when he said no?

JT: I think it’s really important to point out that Clint produced this movie and really gave Rob Lorenz the platform to direct it. I think Clint was really supportive. Rob has wanted to direct a film for years and Clint felt like he was really ready. He felt like this was a great vehicle to start his directorial career. I felt like we probably got to see Clint in a different way because he wasn’t a multi-hyphenate on set. He was just an actor. For me coming into the movie kind of being an athlete when I was younger and knowing that your coaches, your trainers and the people that really mold you into having the type of ethic that you have, that’s the type of relationship my character had with Clint. It’s almost surrogate father-son thing when you sort of understand that he scouted me when I was a younger hotshot phenom. When you get on set all of that really goes away and you just get down into the specifics of the relationships. While baseball is the catalyst for the relationships in this movie, it’s really a movie about people.

Did you guys have any similar figures in your professional life, in entertainment like some guy who you think is your mentor?

It’s always been Clint Eastwood. {laughing} Clint calls me on the phone, {Clint Eastwood impression} “I think that song sounds good.”

AA: I have Meryl Streep’s imaginary voice in my head a lot. I played a ‘what would Meryl do’ game in scenarios and situations. I will never be Meryl Streep. I adore her. She has a successful career and family, and that’s something that’s really important to me. I sort of look at her a lot…

JT: I would say Meryl Streep as well. {laughing} I think that she’s such an iconic gift to the world of film. I have so many. On a personal note, I think after working with David on The Social Network, I constantly check in with him and get his feedback on anything that I have an idea for because he’s so kind of in touch with everything. David cuts his own trailers. I remember when we were getting ready to promote The Social Network, I came to his office to have a meeting for something entirely different. He was like hey check out this trailer that we cut (meaning him and his editing team). So I think I relate to him in that way, with the other things that I have delved into when you’re responsible for so much of it.

You’ve done the same thing more or less when you call a radio station to make them play your record.

JT: Sure.

What do you do in the movie business… are you really proactive? Are you calling people if you hear of a role, are you chasing it or you just leave that to your people?

JT: No, no, no – I mean with this, I have no problem telling you guys that I have put myself on tape for this movie. I have no problem doing that because to be honest, when I first read the script I immediately called Rob and said, hey I think Clint and Amy’s characters are really fleshed out and I don’t know that mine is yet, and I have some ideas on how to inject humor and add things that are a little more colloquial to me that I think could ground the character. On paper, he was great and he was charming and funny but he could come across as a little crass as well. That was a characteristic I wanted to extract.

AA: He was the first person that I heard of that Rob and Clint both agreed upon and were excited about it. There were a lot of people who either read or whose names came up. But Clint apparently saw Justin’s tape and loved it and Rob did as well. I was excited. I met Justin at different events. He had such an excitement and passion for acting.

I’ve worked with other actors who – it’s so dumb and I hate to even say it, but this is a compliment to Justin – when you’re above someone on a call sheet sometimes men have a hard time with that. To have that much passion and energy and talent join our film, I was so excited because we’ve had conversations about film and about acting. I was promoting The Fighter when he was making the rounds for The Social Network so we ran into each other a lot. I was really, really excited to have that on our film.

Amy, what drives you to play a character? You have The Master, you have this movie and you have Lois Lane, a character that has been played a lot…

AA: I started out in theater so I never have a problem role sharing. I think it’s always fun to put your mark on a role in your own way, and I never worry about comparisons because the nature of art is people comparing and contrasting.

I think what drew me to this character was that she felt really contemporary and she felt like someone that I would be friends with, someone that I have a lot in common with. A lot of times I’ve played characters that are based in the past and I love that as well. This was the first time a very contemporary character had been presented to me and I was really excited. I haven’t seen a father-daughter relationship explored in film very often and that was new for me too because almost every girl I know has some daddy issues…

JT: We all have daddy issues. {laughing}

AA: Exactly. I really think that women deserve to see themselves reflected in a lot of different ways in film. This was a new way I felt that I hadn’t seen.

What about you, Justin? What was new about your character?

JT: Johnny comes into the mix and creates a triangle but really he’s the only character that’s being honest about everything. I really liked that about him because I don’t – maybe this will kind of answer your question – in a way I don’t really see men portrayed like that. I always see men as holding on and holding on. I just liked that he called Mickey out on her stuff and he called Gus out on his stuff. But he was there and there was this grounded patience with him specifically with Mickey. He says, “As long as it takes.”

AA: His character is very sexy. That’s why she takes her clothes off and swims in the lake.

JT: Shut up girl! {laughing}

Amy: He is really sexy! {laughing}

Amy, it sounds like your career is on an even higher echelon since you’ve become a mom. Are you just more fulfilled and happier and does that translate into even better work?

AA: I’ve been really, really lucky I have to say. It’s not a matter of having it all because I don’t. I don’t have any sleep. I don’t have any vacations. But I do have a great daughter and a great family. I will say that a lot of what enables that is a really great partner who makes a lot sacrifices. I couldn’t do without him. I get all weepy… He’s such a sweetheart. I really couldn’t do it without him. It would be impossible. Thank goodness we live in a time that actually values men’s roles in the house as well. He does much more than that. He’s an artist and actor in his own right but he picks up and moves his life for me.

JT: I think there is kind of a triangle going on there. {laughing} You have to understand that her guy has become my guy in his own way. We don’t want it to get awkward, so we kind of don’t tell Amy what we do away from her.

AA: And that’s okay. I think men deserve their time together. It’s like don’t ask, don’t tell. But also, I do feel that there’s a really great thing and I’m feeling it more and more the older she gets. When I close that door to get to not be an actress… I walk through the door and I’m her mom, and to have that consistency and that grounding factor, it allows me to then lose myself in my work a little bit more. If I’ve had a day where my character has lost her mind and cried, I get to close the door and be like, “Hey, what do you want for dinner? You want some chicken?” For me, I can’t recreate life if I don’t have a life. The more that I am able to be her mom the better I feel about acting.

What about you Justin?

JT: I told you, I have her man. He really grounds me. {laughing} I’ve always been pretty vocal about the fact that I’m a family guy. I have my folks and my significant other. Those things really do ground me. And like Amy said, I think one thing I’ve learned from being lucky enough and tenacious enough to have whatever amount of success at a younger age… you do learn at some point that having a life, it feeds everything. It is the most important thing.

I just read a story, I know it’s old but I hadn’t heard of it before, where you dressed up as Ernie?

JT: At Comic-Con – did I tell you about this?

AA: No, but this is amazing. Do you still have the costume? Because Aviana would freak out.

JT: She loves Ernie?

AA: Yeah.

You’ll be coming to the next birthday party. You’ll be the entertainment.

JT: I just dressed up as Woody for a 5 year old’s birthday like four days ago. It was pretty stellar I gotta say.

The Ernie story was… We had to go to Comic-Con for In Time. I had never been to Comic-Con and I wanted to see Comic-Con, but I can’t really just walk out on the floor. So I had this great idea that I would get an Ernie costume. I was going to go dressed as Ernie and I was just going to walk Comic-Con. The writer showed up that day. I made sure I got a Bert costume so that we could go as Bert and Ernie. There were a lot of funny comments shouted at us and from us, but it was hilarious. I walked Comic-Con for like two hours and saw the different freakery.

But if your costume is too good, you’ll get stopped for photos anyway.

JT: Here’s the thing about the Ernie and Bert costumes, they’re terrible. They’re terrible. You guys have been to Comic-Con. I mean, people literally look like the Storm troopers that are in the movie. We had spandex, draping – it’s like the ones you buy at a drugstore. For me I thought that was funny.

What are the things that you’ve learned from Clint Eastwood working on this film? What was the most valuable thing that you learned from him for both of you?

JT: Clint is actually really funny. He reminds me so much of my grandfather. He’s just always been such a huge figure in my life – my mother’s father. He’s got kind of that same charm like you’re watching John Wayne walk around. He’s got literally a suitcase full of jokes. Clint is the same way and it’s so disarming. The thing I loved the most about him is how he is still so youthful about the work. He’s excited to be doing it. He loves it. He lives, breathes and eats it. It’s his passion. I think that’s probably the thing that I would take away from it the most is that if you can continue to have that that would the reason to stay in it.

AA: What Justin said, and I would also just add that you can see what loyalty brings you. The loyalty and generosity that you give out comes back at you. You can see that exchange of committed passion from the company that he works with.

JT: This is the most familial experience I think we’ve ever had making a movie. We really felt that – and it is a movie about a new family. Kudos to Clint because they just don’t make movies like this anymore.

The Trouble With The Curve opens in Australian cinemas on December 6.

Trouble with the curve review

“Trouble with the Curve” follows an ailing baseball scout (Clint Eastwood) who takes his daughter (Amy Adams) on one final recruiting trip. Directed by first timer Robert Lorenz, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake also star as fellow scouts.

This is Eastwood’s first on-screen appearance since 2008’s “Gran Torino”, but the man has not lost a step. While he basically growls all his lines and literally looks like a skeleton, he still delivers a likeable performance as Gus, a scout for the Atlanta Braves, who is losing his eyesight. He also proves in one scene that he is still a tough guy, as he breaks a beer bottle and threatens to beat up a man half his age if he gets near his daughter, played by the lovely Amy Adams, ever again.

Speaking of Adams, she plays Gus’ daughter, Mickey (named after Mickey Mantle) and you can tell the relationship between her and her father is strained to say the least. Despite being in a hunt for a partnership at her law firm, she follows her dad to North Carolina to scout what some are calling “the next Albert Pujols”. Adams is at the top of her game here (no baseball pun intended) and an Academy Award nomination wouldn’t be too much out of the question. She is witty and charming all at the same time and she also has some emotional deliveries, too. The chemistry between Adams and Eastwood as well as with Timberlake is really well done, and it is fun to watch.

What is holding “Curve” back from being a great sports film, however, are the side plots. I really didn’t care about Timberlake’s crush on Adams, and there is one little surprise at the end that the filmmakers inserted in simply to kind of make you hate the film’s antagonist (Matthew Lillard, who plays a younger scout who relies on computers) even more.

“Trouble with the Curve” is not a homerun like last year’s “Moneyball” (baseball pun intended), and despite showing flashes of that film, I don’t think it ever tried. “Curve” has exhilarating moments of what goes behind the scenes in baseball drafts, as well as a few funny one liners, mostly about Eastwood’s age or sarcastic remarks by Timberlake. You can tell that the actors had a fun time making this movie and that the filmmakers really care about the game of baseball, and that fun and love rubs off onto the audience. It is not a homerun, but “Curve” is a solid hit up the middle.

Eastwood, Timberlake bond over baseball and golf

Justin Timberlake didn’t leave anything to chance when pursuing the part of Johnny “The Flame” Flanagan alongside Clint Eastwood in Trouble with the Curve.

After all, the role of the former ballplayer with radio-booth aspirations seemed tailor-made for The Social Network star’s on-screen energy. Timberlake even shot an audition tape for director and longtime Eastwood producing partner Robert Lorenz to show the acting legend.

“I saw the tape, he was terrific,” says Eastwood, 82.

But sitting with his co-star at Beverly Hills’ Culina restaurant, wearing a jacket over a casual golf shirt, Eastwood admits there were other factors that made him excited about bringing Timberlake onboard — the guy is one heck of a golfer.

“If (Timberlake) had been a lousy player it would have been, ‘He can’t play the role.’ ” Eastwood says with a smile, causing Timberlake to bust out into laughter.

“He might be great on the tape, but what’s his handicap?” Timberlake, 31, retorts.

Eastwood — cautious in the wake of his “empty chair” speech which continues to reverberate nationally as Curve opens Friday — points out that he is only joking about the mandatory golf skills. Timberlake brought his A-game acting-wise to the baseball drama about a scout, Gus Lobel (Eastwood), trying to prove his worth in the modern world while repairing the relationship with his work-obsessed daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams).

But it didn’t hurt that Timberlake (an impressive plus-5 golf handicap) was on hand for the first movie that Eastwood didn’t direct since In the Line of Fire in 1993.

This meant that Eastwood had time to sneak off during the Atlanta-based shoot.

“When you’re directing, you never get to play golf,” says Eastwood. “But we managed to get a few rounds in down there.”

The star even managed to get Timberlake onto the famed Augusta National Golf Course a week before the Master’s tournament for 36 holes.

“So the two of them would go off and have fun while the rest of us were working all the time,” says Lorenz. “They’d come back all sunburned and tired from walking all 36 holes.”

Eastwood actually remembers meeting Timberlake for the first time years ago during a charity golf tournament while the singer/actor was still with the band ‘N Sync.

“I didn’t associate him with acting,” says Eastwood. “So it becomes more of a deal all of a sudden when he’s coming back as an actor.”

Timberlake was immediately thrown into the line of fire when he showed up on the Curve set. His first day’s work involved a bar scene where he stops Eastwood’s Gus from pummeling a rowdy local with a broken bottle.

“He had to jump right in there,” says Lorenz. “Afterwards Justin turned to me and said, ‘I cannot believe I’m pulling Clint Eastwood off another guy in a bar fight. This is so awesome!’ ”

“I couldn’t have been more excited,” says Timberlake, adding that Eastwood still packs serious intensity.

“I think I actually, legitimately, saved that other guy’s life,” Timberlake jokes. “We could have had an insurance claim on our hands.”

Eastwood was immediately impressed with Timberlake’s eagerness to put life into his own character, even if it meant goofily taking part in a clogging folk dance scene — part of an on-screen effort to impress Adams’ character on a date. Timberlake, who has proven he can bust a move or two, embraced that he couldn’t handle the quick clogging steps required.

“Gene Kelly he wasn’t,” say Eastwood.

“If you recall, the scene was shot from the waist up,” says Timberlake, pointing out his own bad footwork.

They both agree that in the same circumstances they too would hit the clog dance floor, however ridiculous looking.

“I don’t know a lot of guys that would get up in those circumstances,” says Timberlake. “But they would be silly not to get up and dance with Amy Adams. It would be ridiculous.”

“If there’s a great looking gal that you are hitting on,” agrees Eastwood. “If she wants to clog. well then okay, clog.”

“We actually couldn’t get the clogs off him,” Timberlake adds of Clint.

“And they were Amy’s, I borrowed them,” Eastwood jokes right back.

Timberlake was able to show verbal dexterity with his character’s eagerness to be a baseball announcer, re-creating a famous World Series radio call during his scenes with Adams.

“When I was a kid, I used to impersonate everything actually, but specifically announcers,” says Timberlake. “So it’s kind of ironic that this role came up. I was reading it thinking there is some serendipity to this.”

Eastwood shows sensitivity and frailty in his Curve character. During an emotional scene at his wife’s grave, Gus’ chin quivers as he sings mournfully. In a prolonged opening sequence, Gus has trouble urinating and finally shouts at his broken-down body part, “Well, I outlived you.”

“I was just making fun of that characteristic that people of a certain age have,” Eastwood explains about the line, adding: “I have not had that problem. I have the opposite problem.”

But Eastwood also shows the same orneriness portrayed in 2008’s Gran Torino, which is becoming his typical screen persona. “Some things are just easier for some actors to do,” says Eastwood. “Everyone has their strong points. I guess scowling is one of mine.”

This cantankerousness is not visible for a moment during the high-spirited, laughter-filled discussion with Timberlake, where the quips fly between the two like golf buddies.

“I don’t use the nice facilities, and I never have it on,” Eastwood says with a shrug, pulling an underutilized iPhone out of his pocket. “The only time I turn it on is when I transmit a phone call. I guess it could just be a regular old flip phone.”

But Eastwood draws the line when asked if he’s like his computer-allergic character, Gus.

“Are you asking if I’m as dumb as the guy in the film? Not quite,” says Eastwood.

“I can attest to the ‘not quite,’ ” Timberlake adds.

Eastwood doesn’t bristle during talk of his RNC speech. “It was just a private life deal that came over me at the last minute,” he says. “I don’t like getting up and making fun of the president of the United States. That’s not my deal. But I am concerned. And not for me.”

Timberlake’s future involves preparing for the release of two more upcoming major films (the action flick Runner Runner and the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis) Eastwood’s next project, a remake of A Star Is Born, is on hold.

“It’s on the back burner. I’m not in any rush,” Eastwood says. “I do a lot. I’d like to be a better golfer, or a better father.”

Eastwood’s wife of 16 years, Dina, 47, and his daughters Francesca, 19, (with former girlfriend Frances Fisher) and Morgan, 15, star in the E! reality show Mrs. Eastwood and Company.

“I don’t have anything to do with that. I don’t like reality shows,” he says. “It’s her business, I’m not going to suppress her. My libertarian values will not allow me to.”

“And it’s safer,” he adds with a smile.

Life at this point is not about rushing to the next gig.

“I’ve been through that period in life where I just couldn’t stop,” Eastwood says. “But now I just smell the roses. Otherwise, what’s the use?”

In fact, the most pressing thought in his mind suddenly becomes yet another golf game with Timberlake.

“We were just talking about that,” says Timberlake, when asked about their next outing, as they both check their watches simultaneously. “When does the sun go down?”

“I don’t know.” says Eastwood. “How late do you think the driving range is open?”

Amy Adams stands out opposite Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in ‘Trouble with the Curve’

I guess I’m a little bit confused. After being told up one side and down the other to beware Robert Lorenz’s “Trouble with the Curve,” I found myself liking it just fine. It’s a bit unruly in spots and amateurly conceived in others, but never to detriment. And even Clint Eastwood’s grizzled performance, threatening to make good on the promise of “Gran Torino” (i.e. that he’ll be in the self-parody business from here on out) didn’t strike the sour chord I expected it to.

Then as the movie went along, I realized the framing — my framing — was all wrong. This isn’t Clint Eastwood’s movie. This is Amy Adams’s movie. And she’s great. Coupled with “The Master,” her work here further shows a dynamic range for the actress, who by the way landed three Oscar nominations in just six years, for those keeping score at home. And if you’re still not convinced, have a look at “On the Road,” where she shows up out of nowhere and gives a unique if brief take opposite Viggo Mortensen.

In Lorenz’s film, Adams stars as Mickey (you can probably guess the reference), a young professional doing a pretty good job of keeping distance between herself and the potential suitors in her life. There’s a reason, of course, and that’s the sense of abandonment she took away from her early life with a single father, Gus (Eastwood), who spent most of his time on the road scouting for Major League Baseball. The script (from writer Randy Brown) sets her up on a scouting trip that doubles as a therapy session and, along the way, lessons are learned, breakthroughs are made and a valid enough theme is woven throughout.

One thing the script does so well is tell a few parallel stories with increasing confidence. A colleague after this afternoon’s screening noted the classical nature of this, which is a good point. You don’t see it often (in this case, Gus and Mickey’s story is told against the backdrop of a discovery yarn about a young up-and-coming high school player), but there’s also the added virtue of a love story that actually works quite nicely.

And that’s where Justin Timberlake comes in. I bought him fully as a fellow scout of Gus’s (formerly scouted himself, with echoes of “Moneyball”) with eyes for Mickey, Mr. Right at the wrong time. But that’s another strand of the narrative that gets explored and, I would say, rather fully.

Not to go there with the Gene Shalit terminology, but I while “Trouble with the Curve” isn’t a home run, it’s a solid double, at the very least. Its ambitions are in check and its limits are known, but it finds its rhythm and it tells its story. I don’t mean to damn with faint praise but I don’t want to oversell it either. I was just charmed by what it wanted to get across, I guess.

What I’m curious about, however, is whether it’s Academy material. The sight-unseen notion has been a play for Eastwood in Best Actor, but that’s a mirage. Again, the story of the film is Adams, and I think the narrative will speak to older members who know what it’s like to lose touch and shoulder the burden of knowing more about life than their children. As well, it should spark for younger members all too familiar with how maddening communication breakdowns with parents can be at crucial times.

The whole thing just works. It might be hokey in spots, it might be conventional (it will surely be a commercial success), it might even be a shade treacly. But it’s not shallow, and it’s not lazy. And mist significantly, it sports another great performance from a consistently top-notch actress.

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