5 Questions with Isabel Lucas (“Immortals”)

She’s had parts in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “The Pacific,” but sylphlike 26-year-old Isabel Lucas is probably still best known in her native Australia for her three-year stint in the continuing drama, “Home and Away.” She can currently be seen as none other than the goddess Athena in Tarsem Singh’s bloody sword & sandals fantasy, “Immortals.” She will also be featured in the upcoming, long-awaited remake of “Red Dawn.”

In her spare time, Ms. Lucas is also an activist for the environment and animal rights. Her activities on behalf of dolphins actually caused her to run afoul of the Japanese government some years ago and she can be seen briefly in the Oscar winning 2009 documentary, “The Cove.” We managed to grab enough time during the recent “Immortals” junket to ask her, you guessed it, five questions.

1. I’m sure you’ve been called a goddess once or twice. What’s it like to actually play one?

Isabel Lucas: I don’t think I’ve been called a goddess before. Maybe. I don’t know. Athena is a very special archetype. She’s the goddess of wisdom and runs around in the wartimes providing counsel. It was a really amazing opportunity. Big shoes to fill, in a way.

2. So, now, you’re a goddess — the goddess of movies. Which leading man would you choose to be in a movie with? It can be anyone who’s ever been onscreen from any time period.

IL: I was going to say Daniel Day Lewis, but then you said any time period. So, maybe James Dean or Marlon Brando.

3. What was the best thing, and what was the worst thing, about being an Australian soap opera star?

IL: The best thing is probably the learning experience. You have a creative outlet every day and you’re working with really great directors and you have a very tight schedule, and you have a lot of obligations… a lot of dialogue and there’s a lot of things you’re learning on the job. So, that’s a great thing.

What are the negative things about working on a soap opera? It’s probably a boring response, but I think actors can pick up patterns from working on a series like that. [They] find acting tricks that they can repeat — you’re not really stretching yourself. There may only be a certain amount you can learn on a series like that.

4. You were voted one of PETA’s “Sexiest Vegetarians.” Who would you vote for “sexiest vegetarian”?

IL: I don’t know if I really know that many sexy vegetarians. I have a really good friend of mine. He’s been a bit like a big brother. He is a really diligent vegetarian. He’s actually a vegan, and that’s why he came to mind. He’s a free surfer. His name is Dave Rastovich. He does a lot of really great environmental activism. I just did a sail with him and a whole bunch of our friends along the California coast, sailing on kayaks….I went with my boyfriend, who is not a vegetarian. We sailed down — it was basically doing beach clean-ups along the way. Dave organized the whole thing. If you want to check it out, it’s called TransparentSea Voyage.

5. Speaking of your aquatic adventures, you were, of course, involved in an effort to protect some dolphins from fishermen. Is it true that you’re still a wanted woman in Japan?

IL: I would kind of chuckle if they threatened that. I think it was more just to sort of make a scare, to scare us from coming back. At this point, I don’t really have any plans to go back right now. I think that Japan obviously has a lot of issues that need to be dealt with and doesn’t need this right now. However, I actually don’t think it’s very serious because I did return to Japan for the “Transformers” premiere [in 2009] and it was fun.

And nobody tried to arrest you?

IL: No.

  

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A chat with Mickey Rourke (“Immortals”)

“9 1/2 Weeks” director Adrian Lyne is supposed to have said that if Mickey Rourke had died in 1986, his legend might have surpassed James Dean’s. Maybe so. The problem was that, after a series of usually superb but always entertaining performances, Rourke didn’t die. Instead, as the man himself explains, artistic hubris and psychological issues got the better of him. He developed probably the worst reputation of any actor in Hollywood before quitting show business for a time to become a boxer at age 39. Though the resulting injuries and reconstructive surgery permanently altered Rourke’s appearance, years of public fence mending and consistently strong work in small but memorable roles have finally paid off in the afterglow of a sympathetic, engaging, and just plain damn brilliant Oscar nominated performance in Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 indie hit, “The Wrestler.”

A former amateur boxer from Schenectady, New York, the actor first got short-listed for the A-list with his charismatic turn in Barry Levinson’s 1982 ensemble classic about masculine immaturity, “Diner.” That was followed by a series of memorable films that didn’t impress at the box office but live on in home video: “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” Francis Ford Coppola‘s tragically underrated “Rumblefish,” Michael Cimino’s “Year of the Dragon,” Alan Parker’s “Angel Heart,” and Barbet Schroeder’s charming 1987 Charles Bukowski adaptation, “Barfly.” Prior to “The Wrestler,” Rourke was probably best known for 2005′s “Sin City” and 1987′s “9 1/2 Weeks,” which also did a lot to popularize co-star Kim Basinger and the erotic use of ice cubes.

I spoke to Rourke via phone about 24 hours prior to the press junket for “Immortals,” Relativity Media’s hyper-violent mythological fantasy film directed by visual stylist Tarsem Singh (“The Cell,” “The Fall”). When I cheerfully asked the star how he was, his response was a weary, “Oh, that depends.” What else should I have expected from one of acting’s most respected loose cannons?

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to November

Can you smell that? No, not the pumpkin pie-scented potpourri that your grandmother bought you last Christmas – it’s the smell of awards season starting to heat up. Though November is typically a pretty eclectic month for movies, you can always expect a fair share of family films and Oscar hopefuls competing for the attention of your box office dollars, and this year is no exception. You also might notice that a few major releases – like the Adam Sandler-in-drag comedy “Jack and Jill” and the latest installment in the “Twilight” saga – have been left out of this preview. That’s no mistake. I wanted to save myself the trouble of writing about them and you the embarrassment of reading about them. After all, there are more than enough good options this month that no one should have to damage any more brain cells by seeing one of those movies.

“A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS”

Who: John Cho, Kal Penn, Paula Garces, Thomas Lennon and Neil Patrick Harris
What: After Harold and Kumar accidentally set fire to Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree, the duo embark on yet another weed-fueled adventure to replace it.
When: November 4th
Why: Though I refuse to believe that the 3D revolution is going to stick around for much longer, this is one of those times where I actually don’t completely hate the idea. That’s probably because director Todd Strauss-Schulson is really embracing the gimmicky nature of the technology, but who doesn’t love making fun of 3D? Though Harold and Kumar’s last adventure was a bit ridiculous for its own good, writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg appear to have reined things in for the third (and likely final) installment in the stoner bud series. Toss in some Claymation and the return of Neil Patrick Harris and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a fun theater experience.

“TOWER HEIST”

Who: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck and Téa Leoni
What: A group of employees at a luxury condominium enlist the aid of a career criminal to help them steal $20 million from the investor that emptied out their pension plans.
When: November 4th
Why: When I first heard that Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy were teaming up with director Brett Ratner for what can be best described as a blue-collar “Ocean’s 11,” I responded accordingly, with a witty comment and a cynical roll of the eyes. But something strange happened between then and now – I saw the trailer for the film, and amazingly, it doesn’t look half-bad. Perhaps it’s just because my expectations are so low for those involved in the movie, but this actually looks like it could be pretty enjoyable, and even somewhat of a return to form for Murphy, who hasn’t been funny in a really long time.

“J. EDGAR”

Who: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts and Judi Dench
What: A biopic about the founder of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, whose 50-year reign as the face of law enforcement was threatened by the many secrets in his personal life.
When: November 9th
Why: Everything about this film has “future Oscar nominee” written all over it, including star Leonardo DiCaprio, director Clint Eastwood and co-star Armie Hammer, who’s landed the plum role of Hoover’s lifelong friend and rumored lover Clyde Tolson. It’ll be interesting to see how a mild conservative like Eastwood handles the mysterious relationship between the two men, especially with gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black behind the script, because dodging the issue completely won’t sit well with the usually liberal-minded Academy. The person that stands the most to gain from all of this, of course, is Hammer, who is pretty much a lock for a Best Supporting Actor nomination after just barely missing out last year for his incredible work in “The Social Network.”

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