Neil Patrick Harris spent some of the pandemic filming “The Matrix 4” in Berlin. He tells me that he was surprised that writer-director Lana Wachowski’s shoot was so “intimate.”
“It didn’t feel large because it felt like she was in her sweet spot, which was filming on the fly, filming using natural light,” the Emmy- and Tony-winner says on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “Sometimes you’d sit around for an hour waiting for the clouds to clear, and then you’d quickly film. You’d film pages at a time in 30 minutes and then be done.” He adds, “You would think that a giant movie would be 100% storyboarded, animatics, and we’d be checking off shots. I think she lived that before three times over, and I would suspect that she wants to do things her own way now. It wasn’t often that you felt that you were doing something gigantic because she made it feel very intimate.”
Harris’ most recent work is in Russell T. Davies’ “It’s a Sin,” HBO Max’s new limited series about a group of gay friends in London at the start of the AIDS epidemic. During our chat, Harris recalls when he became aware of AIDS. It was the mid to late ’80s, and his agent’s assistant got sick. “It was profound, because at that time it was still early on, and it was still so loaded with a quiet, hushed discussion, a level of shame or concern that made me unable to really have a dialogue about it,” says the actor, who was a teen then. “I was just given information and processed it. And that was it. I never really got to say goodbye.”
Ted Sarandos will host a virtual toast to the talent behind Netflix’s 42 Golden Globe nominations on Feb. 27. Festivities start at noon PT.
How did Susanne Bier come to direct “First Lady,” Showtime’s upcoming anthology about the wives of America’s presidents? It started with a text from Sandra Bullock, the star of Bier’s 2018 Netflix hit “Bird Box,” saying that Viola Davis wanted to talk to the Danish director. Before Bier knew it, Davis, who is not only portraying Michelle Obama in the series but also executive producing with her husband, Julius Tennon, was calling and asked her to direct. “She said, ‘And by the way, you have to direct the whole thing, and it’s probably nine or 10 episodes,’” Bier tells me from Atlanta, where she’s prepping the project. “And I was like, ‘No, no, no, no.’ And then she said, ‘Yeah.’ And then I found myself not really capable of not obeying.” It was announced last month that Michelle Pfeiffer will play Betty Ford. No word on additional casting, but I can tell you it doesn’t sound like Melania Trump will be among the first ladies depicted.
Bier is coming off the huge success of “The Undoing.” She would love to tackle a second season of David E. Kelley’s HBO limited series: “I think it would be so much fun. And I know that Nicole [Kidman] agrees with me, and I think Hugh [Grant] agrees with me too.”
And, I’m happy to report that even Bier’s father couldn’t even convince her to give him spoilers. “I had the most heated discussion with my dad, who just turned 90,” Bier says “My parents were watching it week by week and every week my dad would tell me, ‘I know who did it.’ He was like, ‘Just admit it, it was Nicole Kidman!’ And then he finally got to episode five and it was the son and he was like, ‘I’m not sure I like that you’re having a young boy being the murderer.’”
It’s the whodunit guessing game that made the series so successful. “I think it’s also somehow a totally identifiable theme, like how well do you know somebody else? How capable are you of knowing somebody else?” Bier says. “And I think that that just really resonated. What would you do for them? Also, are you crazy? Is the other person crazy? What’s going on? I think we have all been there at some time in our life. Not to that extreme degree but that sort of weird sense of distorted reality. How many times have you read in the news, ‘He was such a nice guy,’ but then there are four dead people in the basement?”
Last week I told you about the Louis Vuitton men’s pop-up on Rodeo Drive. If you can’t make it to the shop, LV by Appointment brings a capsule store to you. A chic little fully staffed trailer is driven to your home so you can browse and choose from a selection of pieces customized for you, including leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories and more. It’s available in the L.A. area through mid-March.