Lesley Manville, Liam Neeson Romance ‘Normal People’ Acquired By Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to “Normal People,” a romance starring Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson.

Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn (“Cherrybomb”), the film follows as an everyday couple with an extraordinary love, who must find the humor and grace to face a year of adversity.

Also Read: Liam Neeson Is Mr. Plow With a Vengeance in ‘Cold Pursuit’ First Trailer (Video)

“This is such a beautiful story of love and commitment as portrayed between two of the world’s most talented actors,” said Bleecker Street CEO Andrew Karpen. “It’s magical to watch as they find strength and an ever-deepening connection.”

Shot in Northern Ireland, the film is slated to be released in 2019. Owen McCafferty wrote the screenplay for the film, which is produced by Brian J. Falconer, David Holmes and Piers Tempest. Executive producers are Natascha Wharton for the BFI, Stephen Kelliher for Bankside Films, Jo Bamford for Tempo Productions, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross for
Head Gear Films/Metrol Technology and Mark Huffam.

The deal was negotiated between Kent Sanderson and Camille Bertrand on behalf of Bleecker Street with CAA Media Finance and Bankside Films on behalf of the filmmakers.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Viola Davis on Interracial Kiss With Liam Neeson in ‘Widows’: ‘Elusive to Me Because of the Way I Look’

Liam Neeson Is Mr. Plow With a Vengeance in ‘Cold Pursuit’ First Trailer (Video)

Everyone Is Making the Same ‘Simpsons’ Joke About Liam Neeson’s New Movie ‘Hard Powder’

Bleecker Street has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to “Normal People,” a romance starring Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson.

Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn (“Cherrybomb”), the film follows as an everyday couple with an extraordinary love, who must find the humor and grace to face a year of adversity.

“This is such a beautiful story of love and commitment as portrayed between two of the world’s most talented actors,” said Bleecker Street CEO Andrew Karpen. “It’s magical to watch as they find strength and an ever-deepening connection.”

Shot in Northern Ireland, the film is slated to be released in 2019. Owen McCafferty wrote the screenplay for the film, which is produced by Brian J. Falconer, David Holmes and Piers Tempest. Executive producers are Natascha Wharton for the BFI, Stephen Kelliher for Bankside Films, Jo Bamford for Tempo Productions, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross for
Head Gear Films/Metrol Technology and Mark Huffam.

The deal was negotiated between Kent Sanderson and Camille Bertrand on behalf of Bleecker Street with CAA Media Finance and Bankside Films on behalf of the filmmakers.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Viola Davis on Interracial Kiss With Liam Neeson in 'Widows': 'Elusive to Me Because of the Way I Look'

Liam Neeson Is Mr. Plow With a Vengeance in 'Cold Pursuit' First Trailer (Video)

Everyone Is Making the Same 'Simpsons' Joke About Liam Neeson's New Movie 'Hard Powder'

‘Normal People’ With Liam Neeson & Lesley Manville Lands At Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Normal People, the Northern Ireland-shot drama starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville, A 2019 theatrical release is planned for the film, co-directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn and p…

Bleecker Street has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Normal People, the Northern Ireland-shot drama starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville, A 2019 theatrical release is planned for the film, co-directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn and penned by Irish playwright Owen McCafferty. Manville and Neeson play an everyday couple with an extraordinary love who must find the humor and grace to face a year of adversity. Brian J. Falconer, David Holmes and Piers…

Meet Olivia, the Cute Dog Who Starred in Both ‘Widows’ and ‘Game Night’ This Year

If you watched “Widows” this weekend and thought Viola Davis’ dog was literally the cutest, you might recall that the same West Highland White Terrier had a starring role in Jason Bateman’s “Game Night” as well.

According to Animal Casting Atlanta, a company that provides animal actors for film, television, music videos and print, Olivia, a “walking stuffed animal” stars in “Game Night,” “Widows” and Netflix’s “Insatiable,” where she had a brief cameo at a dog wash, this year. She is a three-year-old, 15-pound Westie.

Her trainer, Greg Tresan, told The Ringer that Olivia had her own trailer on the set of “Widows” and received on-site touch-ups. In the film, she plays Davis’ companion as her character, Veronica, mourns the death of her husband and gets roped in to some dangerous business.

Also Read: Viola Davis on Interracial Kiss With Liam Neeson in ‘Widows’: ‘Elusive to Me Because of the Way I Look’

In “Game Night,” Olivia played Bastian, loyal companion to a cop played by Jesse Plemons. Bateman told MTV International that Olivia “was pretty easy” and “he didn’t talk much.” Clearly, Bateman thought Olivia was a male dog.

He added, “He was pretty serious about what he was doing. He was nervous. He peed on the set. He had a real weak bladder on him. But he did hit his mark and was there on time. And didn’t complain that much.””

Also Read: ‘Widows’ Film Review: Viola Davis, Steve McQueen Team Up for a Curious Heist Movie

Animal Casting Atlanta has provided performance animals to projects like “Stranger Things,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Ozark.”

Give her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination!

Related stories from TheWrap:

Nicole Kidman’s ‘Destroyer’ and Viola Davis’ ‘Widows’ Cancel AFI Fest Red Carpet Amid Woolsey Fire

Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’ Leads MoMA’s ‘The Contenders’ Lineup of Year’s Finest Films

Viola Davis Loads up in New Trailer for Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’ (Video)

If you watched “Widows” this weekend and thought Viola Davis’ dog was literally the cutest, you might recall that the same West Highland White Terrier had a starring role in Jason Bateman’s “Game Night” as well.

According to Animal Casting Atlanta, a company that provides animal actors for film, television, music videos and print, Olivia, a “walking stuffed animal” stars in “Game Night,” “Widows” and Netflix’s “Insatiable,” where she had a brief cameo at a dog wash, this year. She is a three-year-old, 15-pound Westie.

Her trainer, Greg Tresan, told The Ringer that Olivia had her own trailer on the set of “Widows” and received on-site touch-ups. In the film, she plays Davis’ companion as her character, Veronica, mourns the death of her husband and gets roped in to some dangerous business.

In “Game Night,” Olivia played Bastian, loyal companion to a cop played by Jesse Plemons. Bateman told MTV International that Olivia “was pretty easy” and “he didn’t talk much.” Clearly, Bateman thought Olivia was a male dog.

He added, “He was pretty serious about what he was doing. He was nervous. He peed on the set. He had a real weak bladder on him. But he did hit his mark and was there on time. And didn’t complain that much.””

Animal Casting Atlanta has provided performance animals to projects like “Stranger Things,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Ozark.”

Give her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination!

Related stories from TheWrap:

Nicole Kidman's 'Destroyer' and Viola Davis' 'Widows' Cancel AFI Fest Red Carpet Amid Woolsey Fire

Steve McQueen's 'Widows' Leads MoMA's 'The Contenders' Lineup of Year's Finest Films

Viola Davis Loads up in New Trailer for Steve McQueen's 'Widows' (Video)

Netflix Cancels ‘The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs’ Red Carpet At AFI Fest Amid Southern Califorina Fires

In the wake of the fires that have been affecting Los Angeles, Netflix announced Sunday that they have decided to cancel the red carpet for the AFI Fest screening of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, Deadline has learned…

In the wake of the fires that have been affecting Los Angeles, Netflix announced Sunday that they have decided to cancel the red carpet for the AFI Fest screening of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, Deadline has learned. However, the screening will go on as scheduled. The western written and directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen stars Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, and Tom Waits. It originally premiered…

Liam Neeson-Kate Walsh Action-Thriller ‘Honest Thief’ Secures Key Deals — AFM

EXCLUSIVE: Liam Neeson-Kate Walsh action-thriller Honest Thief, which begins production in Boston next week, has pitched a near-sellout for The Solution Group, which is handling world sales at the AFM.
Multi-million dollar pacts have closed with Metrop…

EXCLUSIVE: Liam Neeson-Kate Walsh action-thriller Honest Thief, which begins production in Boston next week, has pitched a near-sellout for The Solution Group, which is handling world sales at the AFM. Multi-million dollar pacts have closed with Metropolitan for France, Tele Munchen Group for Germany and Global for Latin America. Deals have also been finalized with Airlines (Careyes), Benelux (DFW), Ex-Yugoslavia (Blitz), China (Estars), CIS (Top), Eastern Europe…

Hollywood Agents, Producers on Industry Misogyny: ‘We Have to Be the First People’ to Make Change

Producers and agents behind the success of films like the Best-Picture winning “Crash,” 2005’s “Thank You For Smoking” and actors like Liam Neeson, Daniel Craig and Emily Blunt came together at the TheWrap’s Power Women Summit to get serious about men joining the fight against misogyny in Hollywood.

“You need new storytellers, you need new energy,” co-head of motion picture literacy at talent agency ICM Partners Harley Copen told the crowd at the “Reframe: Male Allies Leaning In on Gender Equity” panel on Friday at the Intercontinental hotel in downtown Los Angeles. “We have to start from our perspective as agents as the first line of helping learn how people think about projects. We have to start the change. We have to be the first people.”

“Edge of Seventeen” producer and Women in Film founder Cathy Schulman moderated the panel between Copen, agent/producer Kevin Iwashina, agent/producer Cassian Elwes and CAA agent Chris Andrews. While each has had success individually, together they make up part of the 50 studio heads, agency partners, executives and talent who have partnered with Women in Film and the Sundance Institute to join men and women to fight gender disparity in Hollywood. That group calls themselves ReFrame.

Also Read: Emily Ratajkowski Says ‘Feminism Is Great for Everyone, Misogyny Is Bad for Everyone’

For each of the panelists, breaking down the barriers between men and women in Hollywood is a three-step approach. First: challenge the cultural bias. While TV has lead the way to show that women and men are equal, Andrews said, many men behind major films are unconsciously sticking to the status quo.

And that doesn’t have to just mean straight men. Iwashina, who started out his career in the mailroom of UTA and has now worked on films such as the Academy-award nominated “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,”  spoke about his own experience correcting his own bias as an Asian, gay male.

“As a gay male population, I think there is always a very unconscious misogyny. It just exists,” he said. “By supporting women I think i’m a much more well-rounded, well-informed person.”

Also Read: 4 Female Emmy-Nominated Directors on Being Outnumbered by Men 10-to-1: ‘What the Hell?’ (Video)

The second step is challenging the marketplace perceptions that men consume the most mainstream media. Part of what’s great in the post-#MeToo era, Copen said, is that someone like a Kathryn Bigelow can make action or even sci-fi films for not only men but the women who enjoy the genres as well.

“We don’t need a man making a Mars movie. Not many people have that experience as far as I know,” Copen joked.

Schulman said the third step is challenging the Hollywood pipeline. Schulman asked, “Where are the women? And if they are there why can’t we find them?”

Andrews recalled various times in his career when he heard of a mediocre male director getting another shot to make a film because agents and executives didn’t want to “sway the ship.” Andrews says this mentality only hurts any kind of progress for women in the industry.

“If you don’t join [the movement], you’re an idiot,” he said. 

Also Read: Jason Blum Apologizes for ‘Dumb Comments’ About Lack of Female Directors

To incentivize diversity on film projects ReFrame has begun issuing ReFrame stamps of approval. The stamps, Schulman said, are a mark that tells audiences that the production is gender-balanced.

Just a few days before the U.S. midterm elections, the focus of the panel and the rest of the Power Women Summit is to achieve gender equity in Hollywood, with the theme: The Road to 50/50 By 2020.

The Summit is the largest gathering ever assembled of the most influential women in entertainment and media, attended and supported by studios, news organizations and non-profits across the entertainment industry landscape. It is presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, a division of TheWrap News.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Alyssa Milano: Voting Is ‘How We Protect Each Other’ (Video)

Emily Ratajkowski Says ‘Feminism Is Great for Everyone, Misogyny Is Bad for Everyone’

Anita Hill Vows to Do What the Government Won’t: ‘The Down and Dirty Work of Changing Culture’ (Video)

‘On the Basis of Sex’ Star Felicity Jones Says Hollywood Should Embrace Director Mimi Leder’s Patience

Producers and agents behind the success of films like the Best-Picture winning “Crash,” 2005’s “Thank You For Smoking” and actors like Liam Neeson, Daniel Craig and Emily Blunt came together at the TheWrap’s Power Women Summit to get serious about men joining the fight against misogyny in Hollywood.

“You need new storytellers, you need new energy,” co-head of motion picture literacy at talent agency ICM Partners Harley Copen told the crowd at the “Reframe: Male Allies Leaning In on Gender Equity” panel on Friday at the Intercontinental hotel in downtown Los Angeles. “We have to start from our perspective as agents as the first line of helping learn how people think about projects. We have to start the change. We have to be the first people.”

“Edge of Seventeen” producer and Women in Film founder Cathy Schulman moderated the panel between Copen, agent/producer Kevin Iwashina, agent/producer Cassian Elwes and CAA agent Chris Andrews. While each has had success individually, together they make up part of the 50 studio heads, agency partners, executives and talent who have partnered with Women in Film and the Sundance Institute to join men and women to fight gender disparity in Hollywood. That group calls themselves ReFrame.

For each of the panelists, breaking down the barriers between men and women in Hollywood is a three-step approach. First: challenge the cultural bias. While TV has lead the way to show that women and men are equal, Andrews said, many men behind major films are unconsciously sticking to the status quo.

And that doesn’t have to just mean straight men. Iwashina, who started out his career in the mailroom of UTA and has now worked on films such as the Academy-award nominated “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,”  spoke about his own experience correcting his own bias as an Asian, gay male.

“As a gay male population, I think there is always a very unconscious misogyny. It just exists,” he said. “By supporting women I think i’m a much more well-rounded, well-informed person.”

The second step is challenging the marketplace perceptions that men consume the most mainstream media. Part of what’s great in the post-#MeToo era, Copen said, is that someone like a Kathryn Bigelow can make action or even sci-fi films for not only men but the women who enjoy the genres as well.

“We don’t need a man making a Mars movie. Not many people have that experience as far as I know,” Copen joked.

Schulman said the third step is challenging the Hollywood pipeline. Schulman asked, “Where are the women? And if they are there why can’t we find them?”

Andrews recalled various times in his career when he heard of a mediocre male director getting another shot to make a film because agents and executives didn’t want to “sway the ship.” Andrews says this mentality only hurts any kind of progress for women in the industry.

“If you don’t join [the movement], you’re an idiot,” he said. 

To incentivize diversity on film projects ReFrame has begun issuing ReFrame stamps of approval. The stamps, Schulman said, are a mark that tells audiences that the production is gender-balanced.

Just a few days before the U.S. midterm elections, the focus of the panel and the rest of the Power Women Summit is to achieve gender equity in Hollywood, with the theme: The Road to 50/50 By 2020.

The Summit is the largest gathering ever assembled of the most influential women in entertainment and media, attended and supported by studios, news organizations and non-profits across the entertainment industry landscape. It is presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, a division of TheWrap News.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Alyssa Milano: Voting Is 'How We Protect Each Other' (Video)

Emily Ratajkowski Says 'Feminism Is Great for Everyone, Misogyny Is Bad for Everyone'

Anita Hill Vows to Do What the Government Won't: 'The Down and Dirty Work of Changing Culture' (Video)

'On the Basis of Sex' Star Felicity Jones Says Hollywood Should Embrace Director Mimi Leder's Patience

‘Made in Italy’: Liam Neeson to Use His Particular Set of Skills in a Comedy for a Change

James D’Arcy is making his directorial debut with the project.

Having used his particular set of skills in enough action movies for now, Liam Neeson will next go the comic route with “Made in Italy.” James D’Arcy (“Dunkirk,” “Cloud Atlas,”) is making his feature directorial debut with the film, which co-stars Micheál Richardson. According to Variety, Neeson will play “a bohemian London artist who returns to Italy with his estranged son, portrayed by Richardson, to sell the house they inherited from his late wife.” D’Arcy is also writing the screenplay.

Though best known for his dramas (“Schinder’s List,” “Kinsey”) and action films (“Taken,” “The Grey”), Neeson is no stranger to the comedy genre, having appeared in the likes of “Love Actually” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Last year, he hinted that his time as an action star is coming to an end: “The thrillers, that was all a pure accident,” he told Radio Times at the Toronto International Film Festival. “They’re still throwing serious money at me to do that stuff. I’m like, ‘Guys, I’m sixty-fucking-five.’ Audiences are eventually going to go, ‘Come on.’”

He added, “I’ve shot one that’s going to come out in January sometime. There might be another. That’s it. But not ‘Taken,’ none of that franchise stuff.”

Neeson may have spoken too soon, however, as “Cold Pursuit” opens early next year.

“Made in Italy” goes into production next April in, you guessed it, Italy. Gabrielle Stewart of HanWay Films released a statement about the project: Gabrielle Stewart said, “It has been exciting to see this popular screenplay and project really mature and take shape this year; and with Liam and Micheal playing a father and son facing challenges both emotional and comedic in Tuscany, we are in for a very special treat.”

Liam Neeson to Star in Comedy ‘Made in Italy’

Liam Neeson and Micheal Richardson (“Vox Lux”) will star in James D’Arcy’s directorial debut, “Made in Italy.” Neeson will play a bohemian London artist who returns to Italy with his estranged son, portrayed by Richa…

Liam Neeson and Micheal Richardson (“Vox Lux”) will star in James D’Arcy’s directorial debut, “Made in Italy.” Neeson will play a bohemian London artist who returns to Italy with his estranged son, portrayed by Richardson, to sell the house they inherited from his late wife. The movie, also written by D’Arcy, will commence production in April […]

Liam Neeson & Micheál Richardson To Star In Comedy ‘Made In Italy’ — AFM

Liam Neeson and his real-life son, rising actor Micheál Richardson (Vox Lux), are newly attached to star in Dunkirk actor James D’Arcy’s directorial debut Made In Italy.
Neeson will play Robert, a bohemian London artist who returns to Italy with his e…

Liam Neeson and his real-life son, rising actor Micheál Richardson (Vox Lux), are newly attached to star in Dunkirk actor James D'Arcy's directorial debut Made In Italy. Neeson will play Robert, a bohemian London artist who returns to Italy with his estranged son played by Richardson, to make a quick sale of the house they inherited from his late wife. The film is due to commence production April 2019 in Italy. HanWay Films is selling at the AFM. Script comes from…

Liam Neeson Is Mr. Plow With a Vengeance in ‘Cold Pursuit’ First Trailer (Video)

Mess with Liam Neeson and he’ll put you … on ice.

In his latest film “Cold Pursuit” (previously titled the punnier “Hard Powder”), Neeson plays a snow plow driver in a small mountain town who learns that his son has turned up dead as a result of a heroin overdose. He knows his son wasn’t a junkie and suspects that a gang of local drug dealers is behind the death, so takes matters into his own hands and starts knocking off the members of the gang one by one.

“What makes you think you can kill a man?” Neeson is asked in the first trailer for the film. “I read it in a crime novel,” he deadpans.

Also Read: Liam Neeson’s Son Changes Last Name to Honor Late Mom Natasha Richardson

The fun trailer set to the tune of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” continues with shots of Neeson knocking one guy off with a crowbar, strangling another, wielding a sawed-off shotgun and even impaling the roof of a car with a massive tree trunk.

“Cold Pursuit” is an American remake of Hans Petter Moland’s Norwegian action thriller “In Order of Disappearance,” and Moland is back to direct Neeson in the remake. Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman and William Forsythe also co-star.

“Cold Pursuit” skates into theaters this winter on Feb. 8. Watch the first look above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Viola Davis on Interracial Kiss With Liam Neeson in ‘Widows’: ‘Elusive to Me Because of the Way I Look’

Liam Neeson’s Son Changes Last Name to Honor Late Mom Natasha Richardson

Everyone Is Making the Same ‘Simpsons’ Joke About Liam Neeson’s New Movie ‘Hard Powder’

Mess with Liam Neeson and he’ll put you … on ice.

In his latest film “Cold Pursuit” (previously titled the punnier “Hard Powder”), Neeson plays a snow plow driver in a small mountain town who learns that his son has turned up dead as a result of a heroin overdose. He knows his son wasn’t a junkie and suspects that a gang of local drug dealers is behind the death, so takes matters into his own hands and starts knocking off the members of the gang one by one.

“What makes you think you can kill a man?” Neeson is asked in the first trailer for the film. “I read it in a crime novel,” he deadpans.

The fun trailer set to the tune of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” continues with shots of Neeson knocking one guy off with a crowbar, strangling another, wielding a sawed-off shotgun and even impaling the roof of a car with a massive tree trunk.

“Cold Pursuit” is an American remake of Hans Petter Moland’s Norwegian action thriller “In Order of Disappearance,” and Moland is back to direct Neeson in the remake. Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman and William Forsythe also co-star.

“Cold Pursuit” skates into theaters this winter on Feb. 8. Watch the first look above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Viola Davis on Interracial Kiss With Liam Neeson in 'Widows': 'Elusive to Me Because of the Way I Look'

Liam Neeson's Son Changes Last Name to Honor Late Mom Natasha Richardson

Everyone Is Making the Same 'Simpsons' Joke About Liam Neeson's New Movie 'Hard Powder'

‘Cold Pursuit’ Trailer: Liam Neeson Goes to Battle Against a Rocky Mountain Drug Cartel

Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland adapts his own 2014 action film, “In Order of Disappearance.”

Liam Neeson is back in action star in the upcoming thriller, “Cold Pursuit.” The film marks the English-language debut of Norwegian filmmaker Hans Petter Moland and is a loose adaptation of his 2014 movie “In Order of Disappearance.”

“Cold Pursuit,” originally titled “Hard Powder,” stars Neeson as Nelson Coxman, a snowplower who makes it his mission to avenge the death of his son after he’s murdered by a drug cartel located in the Rocky Mountains. The supporting cast includes Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, and William Forsythe. Neeson’s role in Moland’s original film was played by Stellan Skarsgård.

Neeson took an action film break in between “Cold Pursuit” and his last star vehicle, “The Commuter,” to star in one of the short stories in the Coen brothers’ Netflix anthology “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” The film will be available in select theaters and on Netflix next month. The 66-year-old Neeson has become a defining face of the action genre ever since “Taken” revitalized his career. The actor can next be seen in a supporting role opposite Viola Davis in Steve McQueen’s “Widows,” in theaters November 16.

Summit Entertainment will release “Cold Pursuit” in theaters February 8, 2019. Watch the official trailer below.

Tea, Tears & Tenderness: Why Liam Neeson & Lesley Manville Took On Cancer Story ‘Normal People’, First Look & Deals

EXCLUSIVE: When Liam Neeson sits down to read a script he often tests it. If he doesn’t have to get up to make a cup of tea within ten minutes, he knows it’s worth continuing.
When his old friend Bono sent him the script for Northern Irish …

EXCLUSIVE: When Liam Neeson sits down to read a script he often tests it. If he doesn’t have to get up to make a cup of tea within ten minutes, he knows it’s worth continuing. When his old friend Bono sent him the script for Northern Irish drama Normal People, Neeson must have been slightly sceptical. The actor hadn’t made a film in his homeland, Northern Ireland, for more than a decade, and the intimate project was a far cry from the hustle and bustle action films he has…

Viola Davis on Interracial Kiss With Liam Neeson in ‘Widows’: ‘Elusive to Me Because of the Way I Look’

(Warning: A very light spoiler is discussed)

A deep, passionate kiss is shared by Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in the opening frames of “Widows,” immediately keying audiences into the fact that they’re not watching an ordinary crime thriller. This is a Steve McQueen crime thriller, by the director who won the Best Picture Oscar for “12 Years a Slave” and who also earned raves for his groundbreaking sex addiction drama “Shame,” starring Michael Fassbender.

“You will not see that,” Davis said of the intimate bedroom kiss between a black woman and white man depicted in the film. “I don’t care how much people say they’re committed to inclusivity — they’re not committed to that,” said the Oscar winner at a screening on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, attended by McQueen and other cast members.

It’s an opening scene that arguably hasn’t been done in film. As Davis put it, to have “the opening shot in this movie where you have a dark-skinned woman with a big nose and wide lips and all of that and her natural hair kissing — romantically kissing a white man onscreen.”

Also Read: Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’ Leads MoMA’s ‘The Contenders’ Lineup of Year’s Finest Films

“Widows,” co-written by McQueen and “Gone Girl” writer Gillian Flynn, is a remake of a 1980s British TV show. The film version is set in Chicago. It revolves around the women left behind, mourning the deaths of their criminal husbands as they navigate survival in a crime world they’ve suddenly inherited. It also stars Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Carrie Coon and Robert Duvall.

Rodriguez, also at Tuesday’s screening Q&A, chimed in on Davis’ thoughts on interracial love in movies: “The reality of the truth of the fabric of this country is multiracial. I can’t tell you how many Irish last names are on yellow, mixed race, African humans,” she said. “This is just a man who sees truth and he’s putting it on the screen,” Rodriguez added of McQueen.

“That right there has been elusive to me because of the way I look,” added Davis of her kissing scene with Neeson. “I’m just going to say it,” she added as the audience — mostly Screen Actors Guild members — erupted into applause. “Steve [McQueen], he didn’t want to hear that… He saw me as this woman. I migrate toward people who actually see me. I actually do have a vagina,” she concluded as the crowd cheered and laughed.

“Widows” opens in theaters Nov. 16.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Star Is Born’ Is a Legit Oscar Contender – And Here’s What Else Is

2018 Streamy Awards: Complete Winners List

‘Widows’ Film Review: Viola Davis, Steve McQueen Team Up for a Curious Heist Movie

Viola Davis Loads up in New Trailer for Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’ (Video)

Viola Davis Is Out for Blood in Explosive ‘Widows’ Trailer (Video)

(Warning: A very light spoiler is discussed)

A deep, passionate kiss is shared by Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in the opening frames of “Widows,” immediately keying audiences into the fact that they’re not watching an ordinary crime thriller. This is a Steve McQueen crime thriller, by the director who won the Best Picture Oscar for “12 Years a Slave” and who also earned raves for his groundbreaking sex addiction drama “Shame,” starring Michael Fassbender.

“You will not see that,” Davis said of the intimate bedroom kiss between a black woman and white man depicted in the film. “I don’t care how much people say they’re committed to inclusivity — they’re not committed to that,” said the Oscar winner at a screening on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, attended by McQueen and other cast members.

It’s an opening scene that arguably hasn’t been done in film. As Davis put it, to have “the opening shot in this movie where you have a dark-skinned woman with a big nose and wide lips and all of that and her natural hair kissing — romantically kissing a white man onscreen.”

“Widows,” co-written by McQueen and “Gone Girl” writer Gillian Flynn, is a remake of a 1980s British TV show. The film version is set in Chicago. It revolves around the women left behind, mourning the deaths of their criminal husbands as they navigate survival in a crime world they’ve suddenly inherited. It also stars Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Carrie Coon and Robert Duvall.

Rodriguez, also at Tuesday’s screening Q&A, chimed in on Davis’ thoughts on interracial love in movies: “The reality of the truth of the fabric of this country is multiracial. I can’t tell you how many Irish last names are on yellow, mixed race, African humans,” she said. “This is just a man who sees truth and he’s putting it on the screen,” Rodriguez added of McQueen.

“That right there has been elusive to me because of the way I look,” added Davis of her kissing scene with Neeson. “I’m just going to say it,” she added as the audience — mostly Screen Actors Guild members — erupted into applause. “Steve [McQueen], he didn’t want to hear that… He saw me as this woman. I migrate toward people who actually see me. I actually do have a vagina,” she concluded as the crowd cheered and laughed.

“Widows” opens in theaters Nov. 16.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'A Star Is Born' Is a Legit Oscar Contender – And Here's What Else Is

2018 Streamy Awards: Complete Winners List

'Widows' Film Review: Viola Davis, Steve McQueen Team Up for a Curious Heist Movie

Viola Davis Loads up in New Trailer for Steve McQueen's 'Widows' (Video)

Viola Davis Is Out for Blood in Explosive 'Widows' Trailer (Video)

Liam Neeson’s Son Changes Last Name to Honor Late Mom Natasha Richardson

Liam Neeson’s son, actor Micheál Neeson, has changed his name to Micheál Richardson, to honor his late mother Natasha Richardson.

Richardson’s mother Natasha, known for “The Parent Trap” among other films, died in a skiing accident of blunt force trauma in 2009 at age 45 when he was just 13.

The Daily Mail spoke with Natasha Richardson’s mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, who revealed her grandson’s name change. People Magazine confirmed the news. Representatives for Micheál Richardson did not immediately reply for comment.

Also Read: Everyone Is Making the Same ‘Simpsons’ Joke About Liam Neeson’s New Movie ‘Hard Powder’

“That wasn’t because he wanted to avoid his father’s fame, which is enormous. He wanted to hold his mother close to him — because she was a remarkable actress. Absolutely remarkable,” Redgrave told The Daily Mail, adding that she didn’t object to the name change. “Our quaint customs dictate we have to have a male name. I don’t object. Why not? It’s as good as any.”

Richardson told The Sunday Times back in 2015 that he took his mother’s death hard, eventually spiraling into drugs and alcohol abuse.

“Things just started going downhill. The people I was with, we were partying a lot. It was dark. I hit rock bottom.”

Richardson will next be seen in “Vox Lux” opposite Natalie Portman and is even co-starring with his father in the thriller “Cold Pursuit.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh Team Up for Mark Williams’ ‘Honest Thief’

Liam Neeson Joins Cast of Sony’s ‘Men in Black’ Spinoff

Watch Liam Neeson Audition to Be Cupid This Valentine’s Day (Video)

Liam Neeson’s son, actor Micheál Neeson, has changed his name to Micheál Richardson, to honor his late mother Natasha Richardson.

Richardson’s mother Natasha, known for “The Parent Trap” among other films, died in a skiing accident of blunt force trauma in 2009 at age 45 when he was just 13.

The Daily Mail spoke with Natasha Richardson’s mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, who revealed her grandson’s name change. People Magazine confirmed the news. Representatives for Micheál Richardson did not immediately reply for comment.

“That wasn’t because he wanted to avoid his father’s fame, which is enormous. He wanted to hold his mother close to him — because she was a remarkable actress. Absolutely remarkable,” Redgrave told The Daily Mail, adding that she didn’t object to the name change. “Our quaint customs dictate we have to have a male name. I don’t object. Why not? It’s as good as any.”

Richardson told The Sunday Times back in 2015 that he took his mother’s death hard, eventually spiraling into drugs and alcohol abuse.

“Things just started going downhill. The people I was with, we were partying a lot. It was dark. I hit rock bottom.”

Richardson will next be seen in “Vox Lux” opposite Natalie Portman and is even co-starring with his father in the thriller “Cold Pursuit.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh Team Up for Mark Williams' 'Honest Thief'

Liam Neeson Joins Cast of Sony's 'Men in Black' Spinoff

Watch Liam Neeson Audition to Be Cupid This Valentine's Day (Video)

Liam Neeson Is Convinced His ‘Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ Horse Recognized Him

“He whinnied when he saw me. And pawed the ground,” the actor said after a New York Film Festival screening of the new Coen Brothers film.

Liam Neeson has long been an outspoken fan of Central Park’s horse-drawn carriages, but one horse in particular recently stole his heart. At a recent Q & A for Joel and Ethan Coen’s “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” at the New York Film Festival, Neeson shared a rather odd anecdote from the set. The actor plays what he called a “traveling impresario” in the anthology Western, driving a horse carriage and setting the stage for an armless, legless orator who regales indifferent crowds with classical monologues.

“The odd thing is the horse who pulls my wagon knew me,” Neeson said. When asked to follow-up, he added: “You won’t believe it. I’m saying this horse knew me. He actually remembered me from another Western we made awhile back. I love animals. When we worked together before I took special care of him. I fed him treats. Gave him apples … He whinnied when he saw me. And pawed the ground.”

Russell Crowe, who co-starred with Neeson in Paul Haggis’ 2010 thriller “The Next Three Days” was quick to back up his buddy, tweeting: “This is absolutely true. There’s a horse, George, who I gave the speech in the forest in Gladiator on. Years later he was on the set of Robin Hood and we would have a chat every day. Same with the white horse, Rusty, in Robin Hood. We chatted again on Les Mis. Lifelong friends.”

Somebody cast these guys in another horse movie, stat!

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” also stars Tim Blake Nelson, Tyne Daly, James Franco, and Zoe Kazan. Netflix is reportedly releasing the film in theaters on November 16.

Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh to Star in Thriller ‘The Honest Thief’ From ‘Ozark’ Co-Creator

Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh will star in the independent action-thriller “The Honest Thief.” Mark Williams, co-creator of the Netflix series “Ozark,” will direct from a script by Steve Allrich. Neeson will portray a bank robber w…

Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh will star in the independent action-thriller “The Honest Thief.” Mark Williams, co-creator of the Netflix series “Ozark,” will direct from a script by Steve Allrich. Neeson will portray a bank robber who tries to turn himself in because he’s falling in love with a woman — played by Walsh — […]

Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh Team Up for Mark Williams’ ‘Honest Thief’

Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh are teaming up for “Honest Thief,” which will directed by “Ozark” co-creator Mark Williams, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

“Honest Thief” follows bank robber Tom Carter (Neeson) who meets the love of his life Annie (Walsh), who works at the front desk of a storage facility where he hid $7 million from a robbery. He decides to clear his conscience and turn himself in after the two fall in love, but everything quickly spirals out of control.

Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan and Jeffrey Wright are also in talks to join the cast.

Also Read: Liam Neeson Joins Cast of Sony’s ‘Men in Black’ Spinoff

Solution Entertainment Group is selling the world rights and will represent the film at the upcoming AFM. Solution Entertainment partner Lisa Wilson is executive producing the project, while Tai Duncan, Myles Nestel and Williams are producing.

Neeson will next star in “Widows” alongside Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Farrell, as well as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” which is directed by the Coen brothers. He is represented by CAA.

Also Read: Kate Walsh on Brain Tumor Removal: ‘It Was a Really Big Wake-Up Call’

Walsh will next star in “Sell By” alongside Patricia Clarkson. She most recently appeared in “13 Reasons Why” and “Girls Trip.” She is represented by The Gersh Agency and United Agents.

Williams is represented by Zero Gravity Management.

Deadline first reported the news.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Everyone Is Making the Same ‘Simpsons’ Joke About Liam Neeson’s New Movie ‘Hard Powder’

Watch Liam Neeson Audition to Be Cupid This Valentine’s Day (Video)

Liam Neeson Calls #MeToo ‘a Bit of a Witch Hunt’; Defends Dustin Hoffman and Garrison Keillor

Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh are teaming up for “Honest Thief,” which will directed by “Ozark” co-creator Mark Williams, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

“Honest Thief” follows bank robber Tom Carter (Neeson) who meets the love of his life Annie (Walsh), who works at the front desk of a storage facility where he hid $7 million from a robbery. He decides to clear his conscience and turn himself in after the two fall in love, but everything quickly spirals out of control.

Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan and Jeffrey Wright are also in talks to join the cast.

Solution Entertainment Group is selling the world rights and will represent the film at the upcoming AFM. Solution Entertainment partner Lisa Wilson is executive producing the project, while Tai Duncan, Myles Nestel and Williams are producing.

Neeson will next star in “Widows” alongside Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Colin Farrell, as well as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” which is directed by the Coen brothers. He is represented by CAA.

Walsh will next star in “Sell By” alongside Patricia Clarkson. She most recently appeared in “13 Reasons Why” and “Girls Trip.” She is represented by The Gersh Agency and United Agents.

Williams is represented by Zero Gravity Management.

Deadline first reported the news.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Everyone Is Making the Same 'Simpsons' Joke About Liam Neeson's New Movie 'Hard Powder'

Watch Liam Neeson Audition to Be Cupid This Valentine's Day (Video)

Liam Neeson Calls #MeToo 'a Bit of a Witch Hunt'; Defends Dustin Hoffman and Garrison Keillor

53 Stunning Portraits From TheWrap’s Toronto Studio (Exclusive Photos)

Toronto Film Festival 2018: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elle Fanning, Robert Pattinson and more stop by our studio

Toronto Film Festival 2018: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elle Fanning, Robert Pattinson and more stop by our studio

‘Widows’ Film Review: Viola Davis, Steve McQueen Team Up for a Curious Heist Movie

If you’re looking for a curious combination of filmmaker and subject matter at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, look no further than Steve McQueen’s “Widows,” which had its world premiere at the festival on Saturday.

McQueen, best known for the 2013 Oscar Best Picture winner “12 Years a Slave,” is an exacting British artist and film director drawn to obsession and control. He’s made films about slavery, the Irish hunger strike in a British prison (“Hunger”) and sex addiction (“Shame”).

But “Widows” is a heist movie, based on a British miniseries about four women who plot and pull off a robbery after their husbands are killed attempting another job.

Also Read: Viola Davis Loads up in New Trailer for Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’ (Video)

Heist movies, one would think, need to have a little fun in them, and McQueen is not a man who puts much fun into his movies. From the evidence of his filmography, he is enthralled by the extremes of human behavior and uncompromising in the way he documents those extremes.

And while “Widows” can be powerful and dramatic, the director doesn’t seem all that interested in the complicated heist that is theoretically driving the plot. This isn’t Steven Soderbergh delighting in the intricacies of the vault break-in in “Ocean’s Eleven”; McQueen is far more interested in how desperate these people are and in the level of corruption and despair that has led them here.

That’s a reasonable thing for McQueen to be interested in, of course, especially when he’s exploring it with the help of a powerhouse cast headed by Viola Davis and also including Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson and Robert Duvall. But it also feels like a missed opportunity, given that the plot hinges on heist-flick standbys like sudden snafus, double crosses and chase scenes.

Also Read: Viola Davis Is Out for Blood in Explosive ‘Widows’ Trailer (Video)

Davis plays Veronica, a cultured upper-class woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when her husband (Neeson) is killed along with three colleagues pulling off an armed robbery. The money was presumably blown up along with the gang, leaving Veronica in debt to some very angry and very vicious gangsters, one of whom also happens to be running for office in the famously corrupt city of Chicago.

Facing the loss of everything she has, Veronica locates the notebook in which her hubby has helpfully written out every detail of his next heist, and then convinces three other widows that they should take a crash course in robbery. And then complications ensue — but you knew they would, didn’t you?

The action includes the usual assortment of implausibilities, but the details are less important — to McQueen for sure, and because of that to the audience — than the glimpses of lives in perpetual panic, or of corruption so deep and pervasive that no one can ever escape it.

Also Read: ‘Sunset’ Film Review: ‘Son of Saul’ Director Keeps His Characters, and Audience, Off Balance

The heist is the film’s centerpiece, which means “Widows” plays like McQueen doing genre, not McQueen making a statement. The problem is that the genre he’s doing requires a lighter touch than he supplies — and if those car chases and double crosses aren’t at least a little fun, the action turns into a slog. A polished, dramatic slog, maybe, but a slog nonetheless.

Davis is typically fine, though “Widows” is unlikely to occupy as much real estate on her career-achievement clip packages than “Fences” or “Doubt” or “The Help.” Rodriguez, Debicki and Cynthia Erivo make for a team you can root for, even if you never really believe they can do what they’re doing.

On the male side, Neeson has enough gravitas that his very presence constitutes a kind of spoiler. And Farrell and Duvall serve as one side of the brutally corrupt coin, with Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry as the other.

“Widows” works as an example of Steve McQueen bending the genre to his particular obsessions. But it may also leave you hoping that he forgets about ill-fitting genres and goes back to a film where he can care about the whole story, not just part of it.

“Widows” will be released in November by 20th Century Fox.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Will Oscar Season’s Early Contenders Survive the Toronto Film Festival Onslaught?

Toronto Film Festival Market: Will Streaming Giants Spend Big Again and 5 Other Things to Watch

‘White Boy Rick’ Film Review: Gritty, Poignant Drama Is Portrait of a Teenager, Corrupted

If you’re looking for a curious combination of filmmaker and subject matter at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, look no further than Steve McQueen’s “Widows,” which had its world premiere at the festival on Saturday.

McQueen, best known for the 2013 Oscar Best Picture winner “12 Years a Slave,” is an exacting British artist and film director drawn to obsession and control. He’s made films about slavery, the Irish hunger strike in a British prison (“Hunger”) and sex addiction (“Shame”).

But “Widows” is a heist movie, based on a British miniseries about four women who plot and pull off a robbery after their husbands are killed attempting another job.

Heist movies, one would think, need to have a little fun in them, and McQueen is not a man who puts much fun into his movies. From the evidence of his filmography, he is enthralled by the extremes of human behavior and uncompromising in the way he documents those extremes.

And while “Widows” can be powerful and dramatic, the director doesn’t seem all that interested in the complicated heist that is theoretically driving the plot. This isn’t Steven Soderbergh delighting in the intricacies of the vault break-in in “Ocean’s Eleven”; McQueen is far more interested in how desperate these people are and in the level of corruption and despair that has led them here.

That’s a reasonable thing for McQueen to be interested in, of course, especially when he’s exploring it with the help of a powerhouse cast headed by Viola Davis and also including Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson and Robert Duvall. But it also feels like a missed opportunity, given that the plot hinges on heist-flick standbys like sudden snafus, double crosses and chase scenes.

Davis plays Veronica, a cultured upper-class woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when her husband (Neeson) is killed along with three colleagues pulling off an armed robbery. The money was presumably blown up along with the gang, leaving Veronica in debt to some very angry and very vicious gangsters, one of whom also happens to be running for office in the famously corrupt city of Chicago.

Facing the loss of everything she has, Veronica locates the notebook in which her hubby has helpfully written out every detail of his next heist, and then convinces three other widows that they should take a crash course in robbery. And then complications ensue — but you knew they would, didn’t you?

The action includes the usual assortment of implausibilities, but the details are less important — to McQueen for sure, and because of that to the audience — than the glimpses of lives in perpetual panic, or of corruption so deep and pervasive that no one can ever escape it.

The heist is the film’s centerpiece, which means “Widows” plays like McQueen doing genre, not McQueen making a statement. The problem is that the genre he’s doing requires a lighter touch than he supplies — and if those car chases and double crosses aren’t at least a little fun, the action turns into a slog. A polished, dramatic slog, maybe, but a slog nonetheless.

Davis is typically fine, though “Widows” is unlikely to occupy as much real estate on her career-achievement clip packages than “Fences” or “Doubt” or “The Help.” Rodriguez, Debicki and Cynthia Erivo make for a team you can root for, even if you never really believe they can do what they’re doing.

On the male side, Neeson has enough gravitas that his very presence constitutes a kind of spoiler. And Farrell and Duvall serve as one side of the brutally corrupt coin, with Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry as the other.

“Widows” works as an example of Steve McQueen bending the genre to his particular obsessions. But it may also leave you hoping that he forgets about ill-fitting genres and goes back to a film where he can care about the whole story, not just part of it.

“Widows” will be released in November by 20th Century Fox.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Will Oscar Season's Early Contenders Survive the Toronto Film Festival Onslaught?

Toronto Film Festival Market: Will Streaming Giants Spend Big Again and 5 Other Things to Watch

'White Boy Rick' Film Review: Gritty, Poignant Drama Is Portrait of a Teenager, Corrupted

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ Film Review: Coen Brothers Western Anthology Makes for an Uneven Binge

The Coen Brothers turned their anthology TV series into an anthology feature film, so it’s only natural that this forced-binge experience will be premiering on Netflix.

And while the Coens claim in the press notes for “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” that they were inspired by “those films made in Italy in the ’60s which set side-by-side the work of different directors on a common theme,” they were apparently so inspired that they made an anthology movie as wildly uneven as the ones they’re aping. (The 1968 “Spirits of the Dead” gave us Fellini’s sublime “Toby Dammit,” yes, but no one ever talks about Roger Vadim’s silly contribution “Metzengerstein.”)

None of the Coens’ tales of the Old West is an outright dud, but the movie never matches the eponymous opening sequence, starring Tim Blake Nelson as a white-hatted singing cowboy with a tune in his heart, a kind word for everyone he meets, and an exceedingly itchy trigger finger. It’s like the collaboration Gene Autry and Sam Peckinpah never made, and it captures the Coens at their best: self-reflexive, absurdist, witty and outrageous.

See Photos: Hollywood Filmmaker Brothers, From the Russos to the Weinsteins

The rest of the film struggles to match this opening bit’s delightful energy, but there are delights to be discovered along the way: James Franco’s would-be bank robber cheats death, only to have death cheat back; a traveling theatrical producer (Liam Neeson) reaches a crossroads with his unusual but talented orator (Harry Melling, “The Lost City of Z”); a grizzled prospector (Tom Waits, who can do “grizzled” with one hand tied behind his back) makes a discovery and must protect it; an unmarried pioneer woman (Zoe Kazan) tentatively explores romance with the wagonmaster (Bill Heck, “Pit Stop”) on her way to Oregon; a quintet of passengers (including Brendan Gleeson, Tyne Daly and Saul Rubinek) take a stagecoach to an uncertain destination.

The fact that these vignettes were originally conceived as discrete TV episodes comes through pretty clearly, as there don’t seem to be many unifying themes or ideas at play, except maybe for a running gag that randomly inserts a French person into almost every story for no apparent reason. Some of them make the case that the American West was settled almost entirely by rogues, thieves and murderers, while others contradict that notion.

Also Read: Coen Brothers, Barry Jenkins’ New Films to Play at New York Film Festival

The change in perspective does allow the Coens to explore different facets of their own interests in Westerns as a genre; the wagon-train sequence calls to mind John Ford, while the James Franco tale (mainly a shaggy-dog story that builds to a nifty punchline) has more of the spiky humor of Sergio Leone. And they’ve perhaps never leaned into the grandeur of nature as they do with the prospector story, laden with big sky and tall trees and rushing rivers.

The Coens and casting director Ellen Chenoweth (“Suburbicon”) skillfully blend familiar faces with relatively new ones. Among the names to remember here are Melling (giving a great performance as a performer, and you’d never guess he used to play Dudley Dursley in the “Harry Potter” movies) and Heck, as well as Irish actor Jonjo O’Neill (“On Chesil Beach”), who plays Gleeson’s business partner; he’s got a skill for that specific brand of Coen acting — almost but not quite overdoing it, invisible pivots from comedy to menace — that suggest they’ll be using him again soon.

Also Read: ‘Murphy Brown’ Revival Casts Tyne Daly as Pat Corley’s Sister

Not that the marquee names aren’t terrific as well. Daly and Rubinek (and Chelcie Ross, as an eccentric old trapper) have a hilarious anti-chemistry, made all the more amusing by the close quarters of the stagecoach. And Kazan has perhaps never been better, playing a woman unafraid to venture deeper into the untamed West because she reckons it can’t be any worse than what she’s leaving behind.

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” will be, at best, a charming footnote in the Coens’ career, a project they enjoyed doing, and possibly even more enjoyed turning into a film so they can keep their résumé free of episodic television. As Netflix binges go, it’s a pretty good one, but be ready to love some episodes more than others.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Venice Film Festival 2018: Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuaron, Julian Schnabel to Unveil New Work

Coen Brother Asks Trump to Name Him US Poet Laureate

Coen Brothers Have Open Invitation to Write, Direct ‘Fargo’ Episodes: ‘It Would Be Sensational’

Liam Neeson Joins Cast of Sony’s ‘Men in Black’ Spinoff

The Coen Brothers turned their anthology TV series into an anthology feature film, so it’s only natural that this forced-binge experience will be premiering on Netflix.

And while the Coens claim in the press notes for “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” that they were inspired by “those films made in Italy in the ’60s which set side-by-side the work of different directors on a common theme,” they were apparently so inspired that they made an anthology movie as wildly uneven as the ones they’re aping. (The 1968 “Spirits of the Dead” gave us Fellini’s sublime “Toby Dammit,” yes, but no one ever talks about Roger Vadim’s silly contribution “Metzengerstein.”)

None of the Coens’ tales of the Old West is an outright dud, but the movie never matches the eponymous opening sequence, starring Tim Blake Nelson as a white-hatted singing cowboy with a tune in his heart, a kind word for everyone he meets, and an exceedingly itchy trigger finger. It’s like the collaboration Gene Autry and Sam Peckinpah never made, and it captures the Coens at their best: self-reflexive, absurdist, witty and outrageous.

The rest of the film struggles to match this opening bit’s delightful energy, but there are delights to be discovered along the way: James Franco’s would-be bank robber cheats death, only to have death cheat back; a traveling theatrical producer (Liam Neeson) reaches a crossroads with his unusual but talented orator (Harry Melling, “The Lost City of Z”); a grizzled prospector (Tom Waits, who can do “grizzled” with one hand tied behind his back) makes a discovery and must protect it; an unmarried pioneer woman (Zoe Kazan) tentatively explores romance with the wagonmaster (Bill Heck, “Pit Stop”) on her way to Oregon; a quintet of passengers (including Brendan Gleeson, Tyne Daly and Saul Rubinek) take a stagecoach to an uncertain destination.

The fact that these vignettes were originally conceived as discrete TV episodes comes through pretty clearly, as there don’t seem to be many unifying themes or ideas at play, except maybe for a running gag that randomly inserts a French person into almost every story for no apparent reason. Some of them make the case that the American West was settled almost entirely by rogues, thieves and murderers, while others contradict that notion.

The change in perspective does allow the Coens to explore different facets of their own interests in Westerns as a genre; the wagon-train sequence calls to mind John Ford, while the James Franco tale (mainly a shaggy-dog story that builds to a nifty punchline) has more of the spiky humor of Sergio Leone. And they’ve perhaps never leaned into the grandeur of nature as they do with the prospector story, laden with big sky and tall trees and rushing rivers.

The Coens and casting director Ellen Chenoweth (“Suburbicon”) skillfully blend familiar faces with relatively new ones. Among the names to remember here are Melling (giving a great performance as a performer, and you’d never guess he used to play Dudley Dursley in the “Harry Potter” movies) and Heck, as well as Irish actor Jonjo O’Neill (“On Chesil Beach”), who plays Gleeson’s business partner; he’s got a skill for that specific brand of Coen acting — almost but not quite overdoing it, invisible pivots from comedy to menace — that suggest they’ll be using him again soon.

Not that the marquee names aren’t terrific as well. Daly and Rubinek (and Chelcie Ross, as an eccentric old trapper) have a hilarious anti-chemistry, made all the more amusing by the close quarters of the stagecoach. And Kazan has perhaps never been better, playing a woman unafraid to venture deeper into the untamed West because she reckons it can’t be any worse than what she’s leaving behind.

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” will be, at best, a charming footnote in the Coens’ career, a project they enjoyed doing, and possibly even more enjoyed turning into a film so they can keep their résumé free of episodic television. As Netflix binges go, it’s a pretty good one, but be ready to love some episodes more than others.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Venice Film Festival 2018: Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuaron, Julian Schnabel to Unveil New Work

Coen Brother Asks Trump to Name Him US Poet Laureate

Coen Brothers Have Open Invitation to Write, Direct 'Fargo' Episodes: 'It Would Be Sensational'

Liam Neeson Joins Cast of Sony's 'Men in Black' Spinoff

Liam Neeson Snowplow Action Pic ‘Hard Powder’ To Make Trails This Winter; Charlize Theron-Seth Rogen Comedy ‘Flarsky’ Heads To Summer

Lionsgate/Summit’s Liam Neeson action pic Hard Powder will be opening on on Feb. 8 next year, per the studio.
In the movie directed by Hans Petter Moland, Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a local snowplow operator recently named Citizen of the Year of h…

Lionsgate/Summit’s Liam Neeson action pic Hard Powder will be opening on on Feb. 8 next year, per the studio. In the movie directed by Hans Petter Moland, Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a local snowplow operator recently named Citizen of the Year of his small Colorado ski town for keeping the roads open through the winter. Nels' quiet life with his wife (Laura Dern) abruptly spins out of control when their son is unjustly murdered by a local drug cartel. Taking the law into…