Actor Profile: Jack O’Connell

With Angelina Jolie as his chaperone, Jack O’Connell is finding his feet in Hollywood. War epic Unbroken is due to be released on Boxing Day and until now the actor has been known for his portrayal of troubled (and troublesome) young men. With initial reports being positive on O’Connell and his up-and-coming role (which will no doubt propel him into super-stardom), a look into the actors previous works seems appropriate.

Many found themselves intrigued by O’Connell during his turn in E4’s Skins; a television series which upped the bar for drama which focuses on young adults. O’Connell is remembered for his role as Cook, a violent teen with a history of rebellion, and a criminal wrap sheet that doesn’t read well. Before this captivating turn came two films which cemented him as an actor unafraid to tackle the big subjects; first is the now classic Brit drama This Is England. Directed by Shane Meadows and featuring O’Connell in only a small role the film explored racism, Thatcherism and the lifestyle that ultimately comes with being a Skinhead. Two years later the young actor can be seen as the lead antagonist in gory indie horror Eden Lake; disgustingly chavvy and repulsively evil, O’Connell plays Brett with a stellar force (this is probably the only role the actor portrays that you find yourself loathing).

Jack O'Connell

Jack O’Connell

After his turn in various supporting roles O’Connell found himself as the lead in 90’s set rave drama Weekender. As Dylan, he stands out as a comedic force with the ability to switch characteristics comfortably and realistically whenever necessary. With five more British titles under his belt between 2011 and 2013 (including Tower Block), last year saw the actor take on a role which would lead to his discovery in Hollywood. Starred Up, directed by David Mackenzie (and co-starring Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend) follows O’Connell as Eric Love, a young man with a pension for violence and a lack of morality which finds him in adult prison at nineteen. This turn, which O’Connell (in an interview with Film4) described, in ways, as a method approach, cemented him as a powerful force – brutal, aesthetically grim and unabashedly real, Starred Up gave O’Connell the power to fully present himself as the adult actor he has become.

This year has been a stellar year performance wise, with a range of diverse roles – from support in 300: Rise of an Empire to the lead in historical action drama ’71. Next comes the eagerly awaited, and much anticipated, Unbroken. As Louis Zamperini O’Connell finds himself in his biggest role to date; portraying the life of a celebrated athlete and war hero. The actor has already won four awards for his role in the film (two of which were joint for Starred Up) and slowly but surely Jack O’Connell is becoming a known force within Hollywood.

Never afraid to portray men who are often treading the thin line between love and hate, and often seen in roles which challenge those watching (aesthetically and emotionally), beyond the perhaps ‘tough guy’ characters he has become so known for, he manages to portray a heart (however hard it is to find that) and O’Connell is a British actor about to take the rest of the world by storm.

Future films to get excited for

One of the best thing’s about being a film fanatic is the fact that there is an endless supply of new material to get your teeth stuck into. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the films to come at the end of this year, and the new year and this inspired me to write this post about those films! I would also love to hear about what up-and-coming projects have got you excited, so drop a comment and let me know! I’ve selected four films to chat about, all completely different, some with a release date in the next few months, some not until later on in 2015, but all unique and hella-exciting.

gosling on the set of lost river

gosling on the set of lost river

First up, Lost River, a film that has already been screened (at the Cannes Film Festival), to both positive and negative reactions from the audience. Lost River is the first directorial effort from actor Ryan Gosling, and has technically been released (but is yet to hit UK cinemas, so for the sake of this post, we’ll make an exception and include it!). Gosling is said to take great influence from directors like David Lynch and pal Nicholas Winding Refn, but the word on the street after its Cannes debut was that Lost River looked and felt all too familiar, meaning Gosling’s abilities as a director were definitely questioned by critics and film-goers alike. Despite this 50/50 reaction from the film’s premier in May (its said that some of the audience even got up and walked out), the trailer, and plot, definitely gave me reason to be both excited, and intrigued, to see what Gosling has to offer here. Starring previous co-stars Ben Mendelsohn (one of my favorite actors of the past couple of years), Christina Hendricks and Eva Mendes Lost River follows several characters (que some strange names including Bones, Rat and Bully) as they navigate life both above, and below water. All this seems pretty perplexing, and the trailer didn’t clear things up much more, but with a cast like this, and a director with a vision like Gosling’s, Lost River could be one of the best commercial art films in a long while (if Gosling can bring in a crowd for Only God Forgives, there’s hope).

Next up, a change in direction, and a look at a film that there is little to no information about. But this next offering is something to certainly get excited about; its Jurassic World! So, what do we know? The initial release date was said to be May, but now it looks like June 2015 is when it’ll hit (hola Summer blockbuster), Colin Trevorrow is taking the helm as director (an interesting choice here, bring Spielberg back!) and there’s an array of up-and-comers starring (including The Kings of Summer Nick Robinson and Twilight‘s Bryce Dallas Howard). So, a different director, and a whole new cast, but what of the story? The title seems to be pretty self-explanatory so far – Jurassic World will be set on Isla Nublar, twenty years after Jurassic Park (I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded what went on there), now a theme park open to anyone who wishes to visit (did they learn nothing?), it looks as though the dinos are gonna team up and take back the island for themselves. Filming wrapped in August so a teaser trailer can be expected soon, hopefully with a feature trailer to follow early in the new year. If Trevorrow can bring back the intensity of the original, and if there’s a new spin to the story, Jurassic World could patch up the wrong-doings of Jurassic Park 3. Watch this space.

the first poster for jurassic world is released

the first poster for jurassic world is released

Third up, another franchise re-working. Terminator: Genysis, has been on the cards for a while, and is finally in the works. A release date of Summer 2015 is expected at the moment (a little competition between this and Jurassic World perhaps?) and the film will welcome back Arny as the beloved (and equally hated) Terminator. Again, we have a bunch of up and coming actors to get ourselves info-d up on before it hits screens and a whole new look at a world full of killer robots. Sounds fun, right? Right now, I’m not sure whether to be excited or weary about the thought of a new Terminator film considering the franchise took a dip somewhat after Judgement Day, but with not a lot to go on right now my hopes are high that we’ll see a return to form (that form being the days when the Terminator films had witty humor, awe-inspiring effects and an original and unique storyline). Alan Taylor, director of Thor: The Dark World is taking the lead here, and with the success, and size of that, Taylor taking the helm could be pretty promising. Get ready to expect a re-imagining of a robot-lead world, time-hopping and lots of snazzy one-liners.

Last, but most certainly not least (this is actually the film I am most excited for), is Entourage, yes that’s right, there is going to be a film version of one of the funniest (and personally my most beloved) television shows to grace our screens. HBO, we love you. Not a lot needs to be said story-wise if you’re clued up on the series (if you’re not, you have until June 2015 to catch up, and trust me, it’ll be worth your time), as the film is going to take off exactly where things were wrapped up (in short, the boys all achieved what they had been after all along, and Ari discovered he didn’t need the business to be happy – or did he?). Dillon, Grenier, Piven, Ferrara, Connolly (plus more) are all to return, and expect some well-known celebs playing alter-egos of themselves, for your humorous effect of course. Whether you are already a fan, or completely oblivious of Entourage, you wont watch to miss what will be one of the funniest films of 2015. Never afraid to be controversial, and wonderfully adult, Entourage is a project to be excited for. Go and get that box-set, to either discover (or re-discover) the boys as they find their feet in Hollywood and become a permanent fixture on your T.V screen (and soon to be cinema screen).

These are just four of hundreds of films that will grace mine, and your, screens in the next year. There are so many more to research, mark in your calender, love/hate and discover from war drama Unbroken to the Bards Macbeth and adaptations like Tulip Fever. Enjoy!

 

Unbroken first look – trailer review

Audience’s have finally been granted a look at Angelina Jolie’s third effort as a director; Unbroken. Starring a very British Jack O’Connell doing a very convincing American accent (shock all round), at a first glance Unbroken looked like a sports move of-sorts. However, there is much more to this latest offering from actress turned director Jolie, as the trailer delivers scenes of war horror in a Japanese Prison Camp. From this first trailer release it looks like an epic is on the cards, with the film looking as though it follows the true life story of Louis Zamperini from his early athletics days to the brutality he experienced at the hands of the Japanese, to his journey of recovery after. The trailer makes promises of a film full of moments of O’Connell at his best; hard, brutal and unforgettable. This could just be the film that breaks the Skins actor into the American market. With a supporting cast of Garrett Hedlund and Domhnall Gleeson, and a screenplay written by audience favourite’s Joel and Ethan Coen, Unbroken is shaping up to be a unique epic, which with Jolie at the helm should certainly be achievable and rather enjoyable.

By the looks of the trailer and as already mentioned Unbroken will follow Zamperini from his childhood right through to his time after the war, a generational story which with O’Connell’s powerful charisma couldĀ  lead him to be this years new filmic hero. O’Connell’s boyish charm, and cheeky-chappy air are all on display in the trailer, hopefully indicating he has put his all into embodying Zamperini, at his best and worst. The ties of family and friendship look to be key in Unbroken and the determination and will of Zamperini as both an athlete, soldier and survivor of a prison camp all look like vital elements to an already seemingly compelling story. However, the scenes showing Zamperini’s training look almost Forest Gump-esque, and surely a film so far apart from the 1994 classic shouldn’t be reminiscent of it. For now, we’ll forget that and hope that the cliches of war and sports films wont let down what promises to be one of the best features of 2014.

Looking as though Unbroken combines aspects of the journey, war and sports feature, it could look to be a little sloppy and perhaps over-whelming (not in a positive way). But, with an actor like O’Connell as the lead, and a feminine approach with Jolie as director, Unbroken shouldn’t be put to one side yet.