Amazon has assembled an A-list cast for its latest anthology series.
Uzo Aduba, Nicole Beharie, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Anthony Mackie, Helen Mirren, Dan Stevens and Constance Wu will star in Solos, a drama from Hunters creator David Weil and Amazon Studios. The seven-part series, set to premiere later this year, will explore the deeper meaning of human connection through the lens of the individual.
“I am beyond thrilled to be bringing Solos to life alongside this group of artists who I so deeply admire,” said Weil. “I created this piece with a desire to capture stories about connection, hope and the search for that common hum of humanity that binds us all. I’m immensely grateful to [Amazon Studios head] Jennifer Salke and my incredible partners at Amazon for their unwavering support and collaboration on this special project.”
Solos will tell character-driven stories set at different moments in time, and aims to showcase that during people’s most isolated moments, and in disparate circumstances, the human experience connects everyone.
Weil, who has an overall deal at Amazon, will serve as showrunner and executive produce with Sam Taylor-Johnson and Laura Lancaster. Pixie Wespiser serves as producer. Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) will direct two episodes; Weil, Zach Braff and Tiffany Johnson are also set to direct.
Christopher Yogi hopes to introduce audiences to a different Hawaii than the one they have grown accustomed to seeing onscreen.
“A lot of movies that take place here take place in hotels and at popular tourist spots,” explains the filmmaker. “A lot of times the island is used as a pretty backdrop and the locals are at the margin.”
I Was A Simple Man follows a family as their eldest, Masao (Steve Iwamoto), nears death. The cast includes Constance Wu, who first workshopped the project with Yogi years ago at the Sundance Labs and plays Masao’s late wife, Grace, as she returns to her husband while he begins his transition.
Set on O‘ahu, the movie was populated and produced by local talent, with the film’s visuals heavily incorporating Hawaiian nature, from the ocean to the rain forests. “We are very driven to tell stories that are honest to our experience,” says Yogi of the islands’ film community.
Yogi and Wu talked to THR about the U.S. dramatic competition title.
Chris, how did you come up with the story?
CHRISTOPHER YOGI This film was a long time coming. I came up with the idea over ten years ago. I went through this period in my life back in the late aughts where I lost a lot of family members in quick succession. I lost my father to cancer, a grandfather to suicide, and then another grandfather to cancer. It was this really disorienting and confusing time for me. I don’t think I quite knew how to process all that loss. And the final grandfather was the one that really stuck with me because I was in the room with him as his mind was bordering consciousness. The film’s genesis was me really holding onto that feeling of being in the room with someone who’s passing on and trying to communicate that feeling.
Constance, how did you come to the script?
CONSTANCE WU I first met Chris when he workshopped this script at the Sundance Lab. At that time I had just started my TV show, Fresh Off The Boat, and I was really starting to notice the lack of really authentic stories from Asian Americans that were being produced for larger audiences. So I told my agent I want to help these filmmakers and get to know these Asian American filmmakers.
How important was it to film on location in Hawaii?
YOGI I don’t think there was ever a question to film anywhere else. The film couldn’t have taken place anywhere else. The island is a character and it imbues the story with its spirit, with its emotion. I’m sure you noticed while you were watching, the island is constantly present. Even when we’re inside of the rooms— we can hear the ocean, we can hear the wind. It’s the life force of the film.
Constance, how did the location add to your performance?
WU In a very obvious way but also in a really, truly psychic kind of way. From the sounds of the island, the air you breathe and the way sound travels in that kind of air, it really makes a difference. I guess this sounds kind of silly but spent a lot of time trying to connect with the nature of the island. Even just the grass and the way it moved in different places. It really affected me in a type of psychic way that felt almost spiritual to me.
How was Grace different than any role you have played previously?
WU I mean just watch it. [Laughs] I’ve gone from a network sitcom, doing an American tiger mom, to rom-com Crazy Rich Asians to a stripper and then to Grace. There would definitely be filmmakers who might look at my resume and be like, ‘Oh no, she doesn’t do this type of movie. We’re not gonna have her.’ But I feel like Chris and I really got to know each other as people and I think we understand each other. It’s definitely a different type of role but in the end, in every role, you find the humanity in it and you just let it blossom. So, even though it might on the surface seem that it’s very different from all my other parts, it comes from the same place.
Chris, how would you describe the film community in Hawaii?
It’s a very vibrant community. We are very driven to tell stories that are lived in. That touch upon the culture and the history that hasn’t really been touched upon through cinema or even in schooling. We all have one idea of Hawaii, which is the idea that’s sold by the tourist industry, which is paradise. I think Hollywood does a very good job of then amplifying that story. It becomes this paradise backdrop. So what a lot of us are trying to do locally is really tell stories that are honest to our experience and try to balance out that portrayal so that it’s not just the one narrative that’s been sold by luxury tourism.
Is there a production infrastructure in Hawaii for independent film?
YOGI There is an infrastructure but mostly it’s set up for big-budget Hollywood films— the Jurassic Parks, the King Kongs.
WU Hawaii 5-0
YOGI Hawaii 5-0, exactly. And the other extreme is really, really low budget. My first feature was a very small, low budget film. So [I Was A Simple Man] being in that grey area made it very tough to make actually put together. I mean there wasn’t really a path and so. We had to create our own path and find our own way to make something that was in between. It was tough but what’s really cool is hopefully we have provided a little bit of a template so that independent filmmakers after us can then use our template to then make work.
What do you want the entertainment industry to know about Hawaiian filmmaking and filmmakers?
YOGI I love folks coming to my home and learning about it and spending time and falling in love because everybody does fall in love. It is such a beautiful, welcoming place. Full of aloha. Full of love and culture. I guess the one thing that I always try to emphasize is that when you come to a place like Hawaii, with such a rich history and such a pained and dark history as well, spend time learning about it. Spend time meditating upon it, spend time talking to the people there. Immerse yourself in the culture and try to give. Tourism is such an extracted industry. People come, they take, they leave. But if you’re coming, come, and then take but give. Make it a dialogue with the island, with the people. And I think in that way not only will it be more fulfilling but everybody will gain a lot from the dialogue.
You have both been with this story and with this project for so long now. What is it like finally premiering it?
YOGI It’s very surreal to be letting this film go out into the world. I’m staying open to it. Over the course of making it, my understanding of the film changed. My understanding of my relationship to this film— what this film was— evolved. And I think it will continue to evolve. Even though the film is technically finished as it lives out in the world, it’s going to continue to teach me.
Bleecker Street has secured U.S. rights to “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” a Regency era romantic comedy that is set to star Freida Pinto, Constance Wu, Sope Dirisu, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Sam Heughan.
The film, an adaptation of a novel of the same name written by Suzanne Allain, will star production next spring in Ireland. A theatrical release is planned for 2022. Allain will pen the screenplay. The novel will be published globally by Berkley Press later this month, and is said to put a fresh spin on those well-worn stories of meeting cute amidst a swirl of frock coats and ball gowns. The project was presented to buyers during the recent Cannes Film Festival virtual market.
According to the log line, the film follows Julia (Wu), a society lady jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor Mr. Malcolm (Dirisu), when she fails to meet one of the items on his list of requirements for a bride. Feeling shunned and humiliated, she enlists her friend Selina (Pinto) to help her take revenge on Mr. Malcolm by tricking him into thinking he has found his perfect match. The plan appears to be working when Henry (Heughan) threatens Julia’s scheme by courting Selina for himself. Their scheme is further upended by the meddling of the bumbling Lord Cassidy (Jackson-Cohen).
Bleecker Street is the indie distributor of such films as Kitty Green’s “The Assistant,” “Military Wives” with Kristin Scott Thomas, and “Colette” with Keira Knightley.
“Mr Malcolm’s List” marks the feature directing debut of Emma Holly Jones, who previously filmed a short movie involving the same characters. Allain’s script was one of the highest-rated on The Black List, the entertainment industry website that tracks the best un-produced screenplays.
“Emma has built upon the brilliance of her short film to create a period romance for all ages,” said Andrew Karpen, CEO of Bleecker Street. “We are proud to be part of the team to bring her feature to life and look forward to releasing it in 2022.”
“Mr. Malcolm’s List” will be produced by Untitled Entertainment’s Laura Rister and Rebelle Media’s Laura Lewis. Holly Jones and Blinder Films’ Katie Holly are also producers, with Pinto and Wu serving as executive producers on the film.
“I’m thrilled to have the support of Bleecker Street for a movie like this, especially now,” said Holly Jones. “It all feels like a dream of mine to be making a film with such an extraordinary cast and truly collaborative partners.”
The deal was brokered between Kent Sanderson, Camille Bertrand and Avy Eschenasy of Bleecker Street, and Laura Lewis and Laura Rister on behalf of the film. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed. WestEnd represents the film in international markets.
Constance is currently at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival for her movie “Hustlers”. The gallery has been updated with beautiful pictures of her at the “Hustlers” Premiere, Entertainment Weekly’s Must List Party at TIFF, and with new portraits. Check back tomorrow for additional pictures.
0037 x Public Appearances > 2019 > 2019 Toronto International Film Festival – “Hustlers” Premiere – 09.07.19
0005 x Public Appearances > 2019 > Entertainment Weekly’s Must List Party At TIFF – 09.07.19
0003 x Public Appearances > 2019 > MTV News At The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival – 09.07.19
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The gallery has been updated with pictures of Constance at the Photocall for STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers”, of her Visiting The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and with recent magazine features and photoshoots.
0072 x Public Appearances > 2019 > Photocall for STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers” – 08.25.19
0005 x Public Appearances > 2019 > The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – 09.04.19
0004 x Photoshoots & Magazines > Magazine Scans > 2019 > New York Magazine – September 2-15, 2019
0011 x Photoshoots & Magazines > Magazine Scans > 2019 > Off Camera – Issue 203
0001 x Photoshoots & Magazines > Photoshoots & Portraits > 2019 > Photoshoot 001
0002 x Photoshoots & Magazines > Photoshoots & Portraits > 2019 > Photoshoot 002
0009 x Photoshoots & Magazines > Photoshoots & Portraits > 2019 > Photoshoot 003
Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to “Goodbye, Vitamin,” the 2017 debut novel from Rachel Khong, with Constance Wu attached to star, sources tell Variety.
Dylan Clark will produce for his Universal-based Dylan Clark Productions with Jennifer Yee McDevitt adapting the novel. Wu will also executive produce.
“Goodbye, Vitamin” follows Wu’s character, Ruth Young, who discovers that her father, a renowned history professor, has lost his job after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She decides to return home and work with her father’s former student to stage a fake class so he can continue to teach.
Khong’s novel was named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, San Francisco Chronicle, Esquire, Huffington Post, Nylon, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Booklist, and The Independent. It was also the winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction and was also an LA Times Book Prize Finalist.
Brian Williams brought in the book and will oversee for Dylan Clark Productions. Director of development Lexi Barta will oversee the project on behalf of Universal.
Wu most recently starred in last summer’s hit romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” and can be seen on ABC’s TV series “Fresh Off the Boat,” which was recently renewed for another season. Wu is also set to star opposite Jennifer Lopez in the STX comedy “Hustlers,” which opens on Sept. 13.
Wu is repped by UTA, Principal Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson L.L.P. McDevitt is represented by Rise Management and Lichter, Grossman Nichols, Adler & Feldman and Khong is repped by UTA and Marya Spence at Janklow & Nesbit Associates.
The gallery has been updated with screen captures from “Fresh Off the Boat” episodes 5×18, 5×19, and 5×20.
0166 x Fresh Off the Boat > Season 5 > Episode Screen Captures > 5×18 – Rancho Contento
0118 x Fresh Off the Boat > Season 5 > Episode Screen Captures > 5×19 – Vice Mommy
0130 x Fresh Off the Boat > Season 5 > Episode Screen Captures > 5×20 – Nerd Watching