Scenes From Press Junkets Gone Bad: a Bathroom Protest, Tom Hardy Dust-Up and a Disappearance
To outsiders, press junkets probably seem pretty glamorous: Journalists get to hang out at four-star hotels, enjoy a neverending smorgasbord of high-end food, receive piles of movie swag and — most notably — get one-on-one face-time with movie stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron and Josh Duhamel.
But the reality is these unique — and frankly bizarre — media events are high-dollar cattle calls intended to squeeze the absolute maximum amount of press coverage for a film out of the shortest amount of time possible.
“Actors sit in a chair for four to eight hours and talk to 100 outlets,” explained junket veteran Josh Horowitz of MTV. “It’s not designed for thoughtful conversation.”
With dozens of press members streaming in and out of a celebrity’s assigned hotel room-turned interview space — outfitted with cameras, lighting, backdrop and movie posters — junkets are practically designed to fray the nerves of those involved.
But, according to multiple insiders who spoke to TheWrap, they’re a necessary evil as a key part of Hollywood’s promotion engine. And while junkets are constantly changing shape, pressure-packed movie press days aren’t going away anytime soon.
Television personality Ben Lyons recalled one — albeit extreme — example of a junket gone awry. “During one interview, a very well-known actor asked to use the restroom. A half an hour later screams were heard from the bathroom. The actor had urinated everywhere except for the toilet… He just wasn’t happy to be there.”
While Lyons declined to share the actor’s name, he added: “I’ve seen it all.”
Junket veterans Lyons and Horowitz are the creators of a new show called “Junkateers,” which launched recently on Comedy Central’s YouTube channel. The show features actors playing journalists, as well as real stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Duhamel and Eli Roth as themselves. It’s based on the often outlandish things the series creators have witnessed over the years at real-life junkets.
Moretz’s involvement in the show makes perfect sense. She had a whopping six films to promote in 2014 alone, some of which required multiple junkets and premieres — which usually require a busy actor to fly in and spend a grueling day or three in Los Angeles, New York or London to talk to roughly 100 reporters from all over the world.
Among the so-called junketeers are print journalists, bloggers, YouTube stars, televisions hosts and international press. There are also local affiliate station reporters who get flown in on a studio’s dime from places like Detroit, Houston and Miami.
Several insiders who spoke with TheWrap said the money spent on free hotels, airfare and food have been significantly tapered back. That also goes for high-dollar destination junkets held in exotic places like Rio de Janiero (for Universal’s “Fast Five”), Santa Fe, New Mexico (for Disney’s “The Lone Ranger”), Hawaii (for “Lost”) and Edinburgh (for Disney’s “Brave”).
But as junkets have evolved to conform to the SnapChat and Twitter era, there is added pressure to create a viral moment. “Anyone who forces that on someone — it can be off-putting,” Lyons told TheWrap. “When a star is taken off guard, it’s unsettling.”
Some actors, including Tom Cruise, Emma Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney and Will Smith, are considered experts at working with press outlets in high-volume. In fact, junket veteran Sasha Perl-Raver says, “Even if Clooney shows up late to a press line, he’ll stop and give everyone one question and make everybody feel like they’re important.”
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Tommy Lee Jones, whose reputation has risen to a level of infamy on the junket circuit, is said to have once gloated over bringing a journalist to tears. Known to be extremely difficult, often refusing to answer questions, his contentious junket interviews — including this one from 2012 — have gone viral. (He was reported to have bowed out of at least one “Jason Bourne” junket, probably a smart move on the part of Universal decision makers.)
One junket mishap involving Tom Hardy‘s unexpected absence from a “Revenant” interview prompted HitFix journalist and critic Drew McWeeny to declare that he’s done with the pressure-packed press events altogether. After McWeeny took out his frustration with Hardy in a Twitter rant, the star wrote an open letter directed back at the journalist, which included, “Resisting the urge to dare you to say what you ‘rant tweeted’ so publicly, to my face next time we meet, which I doubt you have the balls to do; I want to apologise.”
Then there’s the time Nick Nolte showed up to the “Warrior” junket red-faced and wearing a food-covered bathrobe, socks and slippers. “Every single person who came out of interviews with him were like, ‘Oh my God. He was horrible. I can’t use anything,'” recalled Perl-Raver. “Imagine your drunk uncle while you’re trying to get a soundbite.”
One time, Lyons recalled, a very famous actor at a film festival left in the middle of a press day. “He invited all actors to go with him to a restaurant an hour away from junket for a meal and never returned. That left 50 people, including me, waiting for interviews that never happened.”
Now, do you want to go to a “glamorous” press junket?
15 Fall Movie Stars Poised to Break Out, From Ruth Negga to Riz Ahmed (Photos)
TheWrap looks at 15 of Hollywood's up and coming actors, from indie stars to Tupac's doppelganger.
Ruth Negga, "Loving" Age: 34 Why She Looks Familiar: She played an Inhuman on ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and Dominic Cooper's gun-toting ex on AMC's "Preacher." Why She's About to Break Out: Negga has earned wide acclaim for her role in this fall's "Loving" as a black woman illegally married to a white man in mid-20th-century Virginia.
Nate Parker, "The Birth of a Nation" Age: 36 Why He Looks Familiar: He romanced Gugu Mbatha Raw in last year's underrated "Beyond the Lights." Why He's About to Break Out: Parker directed and stars in "The Birth of a Nation," the biopic of slave-turned-revolutionary Nat Turner that won instant acclaim and a record sale price when it premiered at Sundance in January.
Alison Sudol, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Age: 31 Why She Looks Familiar: She played archaeologist Emma Wilson in the TV series "Dig." Why She's About to Break Out: Sudol is probably better known for her music than her acting, but having a major role in the Harry Potter spinoff film "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," could soon make her as big as Emma Watson.
Riz Ahmed, "Rogue One" Age: 33 Why He Looks Familiar: He played Aaron Kalloor in the latest "Jason Bourne" film and currently stars in the HBO series "The Night Of." Why He's About to Break Out: Ahmed plays an ex-Imperial pilot who joins the rebels in the eagerly awaited "Star Wars" spinoff "Rogue One."
Zoey Deutch, "Why Him?" Age: 21 Why She Looks Familiar: She played a rebellious daughter on CW's "The Ringer" and starred alongside Robert De Niro and Zac Efron in "Dirty Grandpa." Why She's About to Break Out: Deutch will have a leading role opposite James Franco and Bryan Cranston in the holiday comedy "Why Him?"
Demetrius Shipp Jr., "All Eyez on Me" Age: 27 Why He Looks Familiar: He's a spitting image of Tupac Shakur -- but this is his film debut. Why He's About to Break Out: Although his part in "All Eyez On Me" is his first major role, no one plays Tupac and gets ignored.
Haley Bennett, "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Girl on the Train" Age: 28 Why She Looks Familiar: She played the pop diva in Drew Barrymore's "Music & Lyrics" and starred opposite Denzel Washington in "The Equalizer." Why She's About to Break Out: Bennett reteams with Washington in the Western remake "The Magnificent Seven," then has a crucial role in the thriller "The Girl on the Train."
Joe Alwyn, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" Age: 25 Why He Looks Familiar: He probably doesn't -- this is his first feature. Why He's About to Break Out: Alwyn has the title role in Ang Lee's new drama, which is based on Ben Fountain's best-selling novel about a teenage Iraq war hero. He'll also be starring alongside Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker.
Ella Purnell, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" Age: 19 Why She Looks Familiar: She played the teenage version of Angelina Jolie's character in "Maleficent." Why She's About to Break Out: Given Tim Burton's reputation for giving a strange unforgettable twist to characters, Purnell's major role in will be the perfect launching pad.
Lewis MacDougall, "A Monster Calls" Age: 14 Why He Looks Familiar: He had a supporting role in "Pan." Why He's About to Break Out: MacDougall has significant screen time as a boy coping with his single mom's terminal illness by seeking out a tree-dwelling monster (voiced by Liam Neeson).
Sasha Lane, "American Honey" Age: 20 Why She Looks Familiar: She probably doesn't. This is her first film. Why She's About to Break Out: She won wide acclaim in Cannes for her performance as a hard-partying teen opposite Shia LaBeouf in Andrea Arnold's indie that won the Prix du Jury award.
Benedict Wong Age: 45 Why He Looks Familiar: You've seen Wong in multiple films, but he may be best known as Kublai Khan in the Netflix series "Marco Polo." Why He's About to Break Out: He has a high-profile role as Wong, a sidekick to Benedict Cumberbatch's powerful title character in the new Marvel adventure.
Alex Wolff, "Coming Through the Rye" and "Patriots Day" Age: 18 Why He Looks Familiar: He co-starred with his older brother, Nat, on Nickelodeon's "Naked Brothers Band." Why He's About to Break Out: He plays a J.D. Salinger-obsessed teenager in the indie "Coming Through the Rye," then tackles one of the year's most challenging roles: Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Peter Berg's "Patriots Day," alongside Mark Wahlberg.
Valorie Curry, "Blair Witch" and "American Pastoral" Age: 30 Why She Looks Familiar: You've probably seen her on "Veronica Mars" or the last "Twilight" film, but she also starred on Fox's "The Following." Why She's About to Break Out: In addition to starring in the eagerly anticipated "Blair Witch" sequel, she has a key role as spiteful Ruth Cohen in Ewan McGregor's adaptation of the Philip Roth novel "American Pastoral."
Ben Schnetzer, "Snowden" and "Goat" Age: 26 Why He Looks Familiar: He played gay activist in the British indie "Pride." Why He's About to Break Out: In addition to his role in Oliver Stone's Edward Snowden biopic, Schnetzer has earned acclaim as a fraternity brother conflicted about the hazing of his real sibling (Nick Jonas) in "Goat."
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TheWrap looks at 15 of Hollywood’s up and coming actors, from indie stars to Tupac’s doppelganger
TheWrap looks at 15 of Hollywood's up and coming actors, from indie stars to Tupac's doppelganger.
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