The Light from the TV Shows: Chatting with Lara Pulver about ‘Fleming,’ ‘Da Vinci’s Demons,’ and more

Lara Pulver made her first TV appearance in 2009, but she’s quickly racked up a list of credits that’d impress just about any TV viewer, including roles on Robin Hood, True Blood, MI-5, Sherlock, Skins, and Da Vinci’s Demons. In addition to popping up briefly in the current run of Sherlock and returning to Da Vinci’s Demons for its upcoming sophomore season, Pulver can also be found in BBC America’s new limited-series event, Fleming, playing Ann Charteris, the woman who – 62-year-old spoiler alert! – eventually went on to be Mrs. Ian Fleming. Bullz-Eye was fortunate enough to chat with Pulver at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, and we asked her about all of the aforementioned small-screen roles while also touching on her film work with Idris Elba, Michael Sheen, and Tom Cruise.

Fleming_1

Bullz-Eye: So how much did you know about Ian Fleming’s life before you signed on to this project?

Lara Pulver: As a Brit, I knew his novels, I knew he was behind the Bond franchise, but I knew nothing about the man.

BE: How surprised were you to learn about him?

LP: I found him fascinating. Like, from a psychoanalytic point of view. His relationship with his mom, the depressive arrogance, his ego when it came to women, his failure as a man when it came to finding an occupation, finding his niche in life… And yet he never really lived long enough to find out the true success of what we now celebrate as 50 years of Bond as a franchise. So I found it fascinating.

BE: Were you a Bond fan going in?

LP: It’s definitely in British arts and culture history. It’s on TV at Christmas. There’s always a Bond movie. And it’s quite fascinating how they’ve been able to reinvent to make it so current 50 years on.

BE: Were you familiar enough with the franchise to recognize the bits and pieces of it that turned up in his real life?

LP: Yeah, and it’s also so interesting, having done Fleming, to see a Bond movie now. That’s even more interesting.

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Movie Review: “Oblivion”

Starring
Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo
Director
Joseph Kosinski

He rides a sweet motorcycle, flies a badass futuristic stealth bomber, wears a cool NASCAR-like uniform, does a scene in zero gravity, and kisses two beautiful women. Needless to say, Tom Cruise had several reasons to sign up for “Oblivion,” and as an added bonus, writer/director Joseph Kosinski assembled a slick, compelling story around which to frame the riding and the flying and the floating and the kissing. Sci-fi fans will likely cry foul with regard to how much “Oblivion” borrows from a smaller film released a few years back (to say its name would give away too much), and rightfully so. Indeed, “Oblivion” is in many ways a souped-up, big-budget remake of the smaller film. The original is better, as is often the case, but “Oblivion” is quite good as well. It’s beautifully shot, it carries a palpable sense of unease, and it keeps its cards close to the vest. The poker face approach gets frustrating at times, but in the end it was nice to see a science fiction film that doesn’t patronize its audience.

In the years following a war that devastated Earth and killed the population, technician Jack Harper (Cruise) and his work/life partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) literally live in a penthouse in the clouds. Jack and Victoria take instructions from Sally (Melissa Leo) at Mission Control to keep a group of spherical drones functioning so the good guys can defend themselves against a group of alien scavengers who seek to undermine their efforts even though the war is long over. Jack has strange memories, though, of a woman he’s never met and a life he’s never lived. When the scavengers set up a beacon that attracts a ship, Jack investigates the landing site and is stunned to discover that the woman in his dreams is one of the passengers. Soon after, Jack receives a visit from the scavengers, and is forced to rethink everything he has ever known.

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Tom Cruise and former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko in Dublin at Guinness Storehouse

Earlier today, the Guinness Storehouse (the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland) rolled out the red carpet to welcome one of the world’s most famous actors in history, Tom Cruise. Cruise jetted into Dublin as part his worldwide tour for his latest movie, “Oblivion,” accompanied by director Joseph Kosinski and Cruise’s leading, lady former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko.

The group was treated to a private tour of the Guinness Brewery, and Tom received a one-on-one session with Master Brewer Fergal Murray to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.

Since opening its doors in 2000, the Guinness Storehouse has welcomed over 9 million visitors from around the world and is Ireland’s number one international visitor attraction. The building, a former fermentation plant in the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, holds a seven story Guinness experience which allows visitors to gain an understanding of why Guinness has become one of the world’s most iconic and best loved brands.

  

The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Richard Hammond (“Top Gear,” “Richard Hammond’s Crash Course”)

Although the History Channel has done an admirable job of trying to bring “Top Gear” to America, there are many viewers who still view the U.S.’s take on the series as a pale imitation of the original UK version…and, yes, if you’re wondering, I am one of those viewers, thank you very much. Not that there’s anything wrong with Adam Ferrera, Tanner Foust, and Rutledge Wood in principle, but to my way of thinking, they can’t hold a candle to Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. I mean, I’m not even a car person (and, boy, is that an understatement), but I’ve been enthralled by the adventures of Clarkson, Hammond, and May ever since I first discovered the series a few years back.

Indeed, I’ve found their presences so uniformly enjoyable that I’ve even followed them over to their various solo exploits. For instance, if you’ve never seen “James May’s Toy Stories,” head over to Hulu and check it out post haste…but, hang on, before doing that, perhaps you’d better watch “Richard Hammond’s Crash Course,” which actually makes its debut this evening on BBC America. I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with Mr. Hammond during this summer TCA press tour, and we chatted about this new series as well as the one which made him a household name amongst automobile enthusiasts, not to mention various and sundry other topics.

Bullz-Eye: You’re all but ubiquitous on UK television nowadays, but how did you find your way onto TV in the first place?

Richard Hammond: I started as a radio host 24 years ago, in 1988. Local radio, a small station in the UK. I stuck with that for the better part of 10 years and eventually started doing TV. Car-related TV, because that was always my passion. And that opened into other types of TV, but I stuck with the cars as well, and then eventually auditioned for and got “Top Gear” when they re-launched it.

BE: Being a re-launch, I guess it was both a proven commodity as well as an unproven one, since it was all new.

RH: Yeah, it’d become quite old-fashioned and, as happened, it was taken off air because viewers had dwindled, but then it came back as an entirely new thing.

BE: Presumably you were pleasantly surprised when it took off as well as it did.

RH: Weren’t we, though? [Laughs.] Yes, but it wasn’t immediate. We were very lucky. We were afforded the opportunity to grow organically over time, because it was only a small show, so we could be allowed to evolve. We never set out to create the monster we created. We set out to make the best car show we could. That, honestly, is all we ever set out to do. And it was what it was, and it grew to what it became, and it found the appeal it found. We were just lucky. It was a perfect storm. The perfect combination of event, context, characters, appetite…it all came together.

BE: It’s very much a car show for people who aren’t even car aficionados.

RH: Well, we kind of do that to save the viewer the bother. We’re car geeks. I mean, I collect cars. I’ve got…oh, God, dozens of them at home, ranging from pre-war to immediate. But it has to have that at heart. We occasionally…not in recent years, but there was a time when we’d be asked quite regularly, “Are you really a car guy, or is it all put on?” You couldn’t pretend! But you don’t have to be a car fan to watch it, because cars, generally speaking, are fascinating to everyone because they affect all of us. Even if all you ever do is get in one to get a ride to school, they’re still part of your life, be it as a symbol, a means of communication, a means of transport, even as self-expression.

BE: What would you say has been the most fascinating aspect of “Top Gear”? You’ve been to so many countries, done so many things…

RH: Well, I’ve grown up there! I was 30 when we started, I’m 40 now. That’s a big period in a chap’s life! [Laughs.] Both my daughters have arrived since then. Lots has happened. It’s been a part of my life for a long, long time. That’s probably the big surprise. No, the bigger surprise is what’s happened to it! It still takes our breath away how big it’s gotten. We can’t believe it.

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Katie Holmes files for divorce from Tom Cruise

Here’s a shocker – Katie Holmes has had enough of crazy man Tom Cruise. Is anyone shocked by this?

Our friends at Ranker have compiled a great collection of Katie photos for your viewing pleasure. She’s always had that look of the ultimate girl next door, but as you can see in the video clip above she still looks great.

  

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