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Eddie Redmayne - All About The Art

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Eddie Redmayne
All About the Art

Edward John David Redmayne was born and raised in London, England, the son of Patricia (Burke) and Richard Charles Tunstall Redmayne, a businessman. His great-grandfather was Sir Richard Augustine Studdert Redmayne, a noted civil and mining engineer. He has English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry. Redmayne is the only member of his family to follow a career in acting, and also modeled during his teen years. He was educated at Eton College before going on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied History of Art. Encouraged by his parents, Redmayne took drama lessons from a young age. His first stage appearance was in the Sam Mendes production of “Oliver!” in London’s West End. He played a workhouse boy. Acting continued through school and university, including performing with the National Youth Music Theatre.

Redmayne’s first professional stage performance came in 2002 at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where he played Viola in ‘Twelfth Night’. In 2004, he won the prestigious Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer Award for his working in Edward Albee’s play, ‘The Goat’. Further stage successes followed and in 2009 he starred in John Logan’s ‘Red’ at the Donmar Warehouse in London. He won huge critical acclaim for his role, winning an Oliver Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The play transferred to Broadway in 2010, and Redmayne went on to win a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play.

Alongside his stage career, Redmayne has worked steadily in television and film. Notable projects include Robert De Niro’s, The Good Shepherd (2006), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008), The Pillars of the Earth (2010) and My Week with Marilyn (2011). In 2012, he co-starred in the musical Les Misérables (2012), as Marius Pontmercy.

Then in 2014, Redmayne played scientist Stephen Hawking in the biographical film drama, The Theory of Everything, opposite Felicity Jones – as Stephen’s wife, Jane Hawking. For his performance, Redmayne won multiple awards – including the Academy Award for Best Actor. As such, he became the first man born in the 1980’s to win an acting Oscar.

Flash forward to 2016 and Redmayne finds himself in similar company for the Oscar for his outstanding performance in The Danish Girl, with best supporting actress nominee, Alicia Vikander. The two actors put forth an incredibly captivating and moving performance, pushing each other’s limits and exploring sexuality and emotion in this powerful film about the life of Lili Elbe, the first woman to transition from man to woman in the early nineteen-hundred’s. We sat with Eddie and found a smart, intuitive man, who was very in touch with his emotions and his skillful acting.

STRIPLV: Who was Lili Elbe?
REDMAYNE: Lili was an extraordinary woman who lived in the early 20th century and she was born Einar Wegener and she became perhaps the first woman to transition and undergo gender confirmation surgery.  
STRIPLV: Why is she considered a pioneer and what is so extraordinary about her?
REDMAYNE: What’s extraordinary about Lili is that, in an age in which there were no predecessors, there were no transgender women that she was aware of, she had the bravery and the courage to pursue living a life authentic. I find it very interesting that we hear people go: “Just go be yourself,” and it sounds like the easiest thing in the world to just be yourself, and yet it’s not, and particularly for her. It was a huge, huge battle that she undertook with great courage and she won. She became herself.  
STRIPLV: Did she do it alone? Tell me more about Gerda and what her role was in this life-altering event for Lili.
REDMAYNE: Gerda was a formidable woman, again living the early 20th century. She was an artist. She worked independently. She had ambition and she had drive in a time when those things were perhaps frowned upon for women, and she had great love for Lili, who was then living as Einar Wegener. One of the extraordinary things about this story for me is the profundity of love. What an extraordinary thing it can be, and how it is not defined by gender, by sexuality, by race, by religion, by anything. It’s something other. It’s about the soul. At its core, The Danish Girl is an incredibly unique and beautiful love story.
STRIPLV: In the film, what’s the catalyst for Lili to start to explore her feminine side or Lili and Gerda to start exploring that together ?  
REDMAYNE: It’s interesting, because when I was preparing to play Lili, many of the transwomen I met, in fact all the transwomen I met, described how they were a different gender to that than what they were assigned at birth, from the first moment they could remember, from when they were three or four years old. One of the interesting things to me is that there’s this extraordinary drawing of Lili when she was living as Einar with this long, starched collar and this tight, tailored male suit, and its almost as if she and society have constructed this sort of male exoskeleton, which she had to unravel. The catalyst for Lili’s emergence was a moment in which Gerda, who was painting portraits, painting Ulla, some famed ballerina, and Ulla couldn’t turn up for her sitting. So she asked Lili, who was then living as Einar, to put on stockings and shoes in order that she could paint the detail, for someone who had repressed themselves for many years, who had concocted this exoskeleton, a sort of guise under which to survive.
STRIPLV: So this was Lili’s first emergence…
REDMAYNE: So I suppose, for me, I related that to this scene. The scene in the ballroom is Lili for the first time coming out in public. She has a certain safety in the sense that she has framed it as playing this game with her wife. There has been a sort of playfulness and a caprice in it. But actually the stakes are higher for her, and within the furor of watching women of that extraordinary adrenalin-fueled wonder that comes from blending, from being approached by men, to eventually being kissed by a man. But that fear and danger is sort of underneath all the equal excitement and joy, I suppose.  
STRIPLV: What did you and Tom discuss when it came to the delicateness, or the beats that you wanted to hit with the character throughout the scene.
REDMAYNE: Throughout the scene, I suppose for me, because the scene was one in which… because it was a game—she had framed within that way… and she is just emerging. And so she has been living as a man for a long time. She has been wearing these high starched collars. She’s been in this sort of exoskeleton of maleness. She is beginning to have the environment which she can relearn her femininity, so she’s watching other women. She is copying. She is finding out how she can discover her own femininity. But also under these incredibly high stakes, you’ve got to remember, at that time, this notion of… it was unheard of, absolutely unheard of, so there was a fear around the scene, as well.
STRIPLV: Tell me about working with Alicia, and if you had a favorite scene or favorite moment?
REDMAYNE: Alicia Vikander is just the most phenomenal actress. She has this amazing mixture of formidable technique. She trained as a dancer and people often cite that performance in Ex Machina—they say, “What incredible poise.” But what blew my mind was that she has this incredible, deep visceral relationship with her emotions, and she has a boldness that is on another level, and she challenged me and raised my game continuously. It was one of the huge joys of this film was getting to work with her.
STRIPLV: There is an audience that will relate to Lili’s story specifically. What are some of the themes that a wider audience you hope will relate to within this film?
REDMAYNE: I suppose what I… Lili’s story is a very unique story. One of the things that I learned while I was prepping the film is that there is no one, trans story. Everyone’s story is different. Of course it is. Everyone is different. But I suppose one of the things that really touched me is this notion of being yourself, and it sounds like the simplest of things, to be yourself, and yet I think it’s one of the hardest. Now Lili’s story and Lili’s specific life, the courage that she needed to be herself was dumbfounding. I suppose that within all of us there’s a finding of authenticity. To find what it takes to live a life of authenticity is a complicated question.  
STRIPLV: How do you hope the audiences are affected by the film?
REDMAYNE: I hope the audiences are as moved by the love story that is the ground rock of The Danish Girl as I was when I read the script. I hope that they fall for these two wonderful women who challenged each other, who challenged society, who were pioneers in many ways almost a hundred years ago. I hope through their story and through their love, they can galvanize us to aspire to live an authentic life.

Alicia Vikander - Rising Star

Right now you might ask: “Who?” when you hear the name, Alicia Vikander. But by the end of February, when the Oscars air, we predict that everyone in the world will know about this fascinating and very talented actress.

With an astonishing eight, count them—eight films released in 2015—it’s frankly going to be impossible to avoid the stunning 26-year-old Swede who, in the flesh, is like a cross between Natalie Portman and a young Julie Christie.

Vikander has been based in North London for the last four years, and by the end of 2015 she starred in [deep breath]: Seventh Son alongside Jeff Bridges and Game of Thrones hunk, Kit Harington; the artificial intelligence thriller, Ex Machina with Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken); Tulip Fever alongside Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne and Unbroken’s lead Jack O’Connell; The Man from U.N.C.L.E with Henry Cavill and Hugh Grant; The Light Between Oceans with Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz; and her stunning performance as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne, for which she is up for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Lea Seydoux - Belle Fleur

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Lea Seydoux - Belle Fleur

Sultry and enigmatic, Léa Seydoux has quickly become one of the hottest French actresses in the business.  

Her torrid performance in the erotically-charged lesbian love story, Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) turned her into an international star, along with her sensual nude pictorials in Lui Magazine, which in turn, made her into an overnight sex symbol. Smart career moves and her onscreen honesty and bravery also helped earn her a coveted role as a Bond girl in the new James Bond film, Spectre, not that she particularly cares for the term, “Bond girl.”

Formidably independent, Seydoux is quick to stress that her character, Dr. Madeleine Swann, is a serious woman who is much more than eye candy.

“She’s an interesting woman; very smart,” Seydoux says. “I wanted to create a character who is a strong woman and is very different from other Bond girls. I wanted to follow more in the style of Eva Green in Casino Royale (2006), who did something very special with her character. We’re in an age where audiences don’t want to see female characters who are passive and submissive sex objects, and I tried to show that (Madeleine) is a very capable and independent woman.”

Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes, and starring Daniel Craig in his fourth and probably final appearance as 007, sees Seydoux in the role of the daughter of an assassin who joins Bond on a hazardous journey across Europe, and in the process, she reminds him of certain key elements from his past.

The 30-year-old Seydoux is descended from French film royalty—her grandfather Jérôme is CEO of the French film and media giant, Pathé, while her great-uncle Nicolas is head of Gaumont, France’s largest film production and distribution company. Apart from various French films, she has established herself in several major American productions, including Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and most recently, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

In addition, she can currently be seen in the surrealist drama, The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) and co-starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. The film sharply divided critics at its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but it’s an example of Seydoux’s desire to work on both indie as well as more mainstream features.

Léa Seydoux lives in Paris with her boyfriend whose name she prefers not to reveal and who she described to Paris Match earlier this year as “the man of my life.”

STRIPLV: Léa, what was it like meeting Daniel Craig for the first time after you had been hired to work on Spectre?
SEYDOUX: He was very charming and funny. I met him just after I finished shooting The Lobster, which was about as different a kind of film as you could possibly imagine, and where we had a very small budget and a very strange story that we were telling. I got along with him right away and I also had a chance to become friends with his wife Rachel Weisz when we were making The Lobster.
STRIPLV: Did Craig try to help you get used to working on a mammoth production like Spectre?
SEYDOUX: I had already worked on Mission: Impossible with Tom Cruise, so I knew what the atmosphere and the way of working was like on a large set, which is like a big machine in operation. Daniel was extremely generous in how much time he spent with me talking about our scenes together and also how he was very protective in general. He wanted to make sure I was comfortable doing certain scenes and that I was enjoying our work together. I had such a good experience on this film with Daniel and also with Sam Mendes (the director) who wanted to keep adding new layers and many small details to my character while we were shooting.
STRIPLV: Did you also get to know your co-star Monica Bellucci?
SEYDOUX: Yes. For me, Monica is a goddess! She has such a graceful and striking presence. She also paid me the most beautiful compliment, saying that her character is an old-style Bond girl, dependent on men, while my Bond girl is the modern type who holds her own against men and is not the kind of woman who is going to let herself be swept away or told what to do by a man. We laughed about that.
STRIPLV: Did you have a lot of action scenes or stunts to perform?
SEYDOUX: I don’t have that many big action scenes, but I needed to get very fit for the film. You have to run and be able to move quickly and so I spent several months training and doing as many sports as I could, so that I would look as convincing as possible doing my own stunts. I liked that, because otherwise I’m lazy when it comes to fitness. (Laughs) The main thing that Sam Mendes kept reminding me was that I had to look very efficient and sure of myself during those scenes.
STRIPLV: Your career has taken off within the last few years and especially with the attention that you received with La Vie d’Adele (Blue is the Warmest Color). You seem to like pushing boundaries, as you’re doing in The Lobster.
SEYDOUX: I like taking risks in my work. I’m very shy in private and acting is my way of escaping a lot of my fears and anxieties. I feel this incredible freedom when I am working, because I approach my roles instinctively. I like to throw myself into the emotions of every character and find my way into the performance with my heart, rather than with my head. Often when I am preparing to play in a film I will try to write down a lot of my thoughts about the emotional journey of my character. I want to be able to understand the essence and spirit of whomever I’m playing, and that, for me, is the real art of the performance.
STRIPLV: Was it difficult to enter the absurdist world that Yorgos Lanthimos is creating in The Lobster?
SEYDOUX: It was a special situation where you can’t really prepare to play the character, but you have to allow yourself to follow the director’s vision and enter his world through the story and the atmosphere he is trying to create. I had wanted to work with him after seeing Dogtooth, and it was an incredible experience being part of that film and trying to understand something of the absurdity of human relationships, while also trying to tell a love story. One of the great things about acting is being able to enter another universe, and in this film, you’re taken into a very unique world and it has an odd effect on how you look at life and very basic things about how and why people care for or love each other.
STRIPLV: You’ve been very open about your battles with anxiety. How has acting helped you deal with that?
SEYDOUX: I would be a mess in probably any other profession other than acting or some form of art. Acting has been very helpful to me in enabling me to express myself much more boldly and fearlessly than I am able to in my private life. I am still very shy and sometimes when I think about some of the work I’ve done, especially in La Vie d’Adele (Blue is the Warmest Color), I wonder how I was able to be so daring. But once I am committed to my work, then I feel I can do almost anything. Something happens to me and acting gives me the courage to be a different person and not let all my phobias block me the way they sometimes do.
STRIPLV: You obviously don’t have any issues about nudity?
SEYDOUX: I’ve never really worried about how I look or nudity in general. My parents are artists in the way they approach life and I was raised in a very Bohemian atmosphere. So being naked in a film is not a problem for me and obviously I could never have worked on La Vie d’Adele if that had been a concern. In my own life, I would like to be more open and relaxed the way my mother is, for example, but she passed on to me one very important trait: I don’t worry about what other people think of me. I have a tendency to be very self-critical, but I don’t allow myself to be affected by what’s written or said about me. I just don’t care.
STRIPLV: Did coming from a famous family in France help or hinder your ability to establish your acting career?
SEYDOUX: I don’t think it made any difference ultimately. I never asked or received help from my relatives who are working in the business. When directors or casting agents are looking for an actress, they’re not interested in your background, but only whether you can play the part and do a good job. I worked hard to have this kind of career, and my family is proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. They never put any pressure on me and were only very encouraging.
STRIPLV: You’re also becoming known as a sex symbol. How do you feel about everything that comes with that type of image?
SEYDOUX: I don’t pay any attention to it, because it’s not real. I worry more about the constant attention that comes with being very famous. I can still live quite normally in Paris, although I am recognized more often.
STRIPLV: What kind of clothes do you like to wear in everyday life?
SEYDOUX: I dress very casually. I wear jeans mainly, I rarely put on makeup, and I’m the opposite of what people might expect from someone who is part of a glamorous world. But I only get very chic for film premieres or festivals, where I love the atmosphere and spectacle of it. I prefer wearing clothes that are comfortable.
STRIPLV: Your godfather is Christian Louboutin. Not a bad connection for shoes?
SEYDOUX: (Laughs) I wish I would wear high heels more often! I love his shoes, of course. He gave me my first pair of heels for my 12th birthday!

DAKOTA JOHNSON - Thoughtful

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Dakota Johnson - Thoughtful

After a whirlwind year, in which she rocketed to fame with her much-hyped starring role in 50 Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson has hardly had time to rest on her laurels. She’s anxious to prove herself in serious films, where her work can take precedence over the media frenzy that first brought her into public view. Dakota has a naturally dismissive attitude toward celebrity anyway, having lived her entire life with the extraordinary attention that comes along with being the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson and growing up with Antonio Banderas as your stepfather. Johnson explains it as:

“ When you grow up in a family where you’re spending a lot of time on film sets, it’s natural that you feel drawn to that world. Sometimes you can get very anxious when your family is often being gossiped about in the media. But you learn to focus on things that are real, and in the end it makes you stronger. I try to live as spontaneously and openly as I can.”

Johnson’s new film, Black Mass, the gangster drama directed by Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace), stars Johnny Depp as fabled American mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, a vicious southside Boston hoodlum who rose to become the city’s leading underworld figure. She plays Bulger’s wife Lindsey with a level of intensity and sensitivity that proves, as in the case of 50 Shades’ Anastasia, how she can be fearless in the face of domineering, and at times, sinister men. Her performance also made a huge impression on her famous co-star: “I thought she knocked it right out of the park,” Depp said. “The moment when Jimmy Bulger walks into that house, there begins this sort of definition of the man—and that’s purely Dakota. How she responds, how she talks to him, in a way that nobody talks to him. So she was integral (to the film).”

Johnson plays a very different kind of woman, however, in her other new project, A Bigger Splash, in which she plays opposite Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthias Schoenaerts. Set for release next May, Splash is a loose remake of Jacques Deray’s Swimming Pool (1969), the cult film noir that co-starred Alain Delon and Romy Schneider. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, who previously directed Swinton in I Am Love (2009), Splash gives Johnson a chance to demonstrate her abundant sexual allure as Penelope, a vampish object of desire who accompanies her manic music producer father Harry (Fiennes) on a trip to Sicily to visit his former lover, Marianne (Swinton), an aging female rock star recovering from vocal chord surgery. During the course of their stay, Penelope develops an attachment to Marianne’s hunkish boyfriend, Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), as tension builds in this eerie psychological drama.

26-year-old Dakota Johnson is currently single, and looked much more comfortable doing press rounds than in the past, as she promoted both her films at the recent Venice and Toronto film festivals. For our chat, she was wearing an elegant patterned Dior dress. In conversation, she is highly thoughtful, although she can be hesitant and shy at times in expressing herself. When it comes to having lived a relatively scandal-free life, despite growing up with famous parents, Johnson observed: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro,” a motto first coined by the late Hunter S. Thompson, who was a friend of her father, Don Johnson. “I constantly try to subscribe to that philosophy. It helps keeps me sane, or insane. You just accept it, and move on.”

STRIPLV: You grew up in a household of actors all of whom have had important careers in the film business. Do you feel that you’re starting to make your own mark?
JOHNSON: It’s a beginning. If you decide to follow in your parents’ footsteps, you naturally feel very anxious about establishing your own identity in the business. I’ve tried to find good roles, where I’m going to be judged on my acting alone and nothing else. I’m very grateful to have the support of my family and I like to believe that I’ve inherited the strength of character and many other qualities from my grandmother (Tippi Hedren – of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds) and my mother. I also feel I’ve learned a lot from my father and stepfather, who have also helped me and stood by me.
STRIPLV: Are films like Black Mass and A Bigger Splash the kinds of projects that you believe will help you evolve as an actress?
JOHNSON: Anytime you get to work with outstanding actors like Johnny Depp or Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes, talented people like that, you’re going to learn a lot and become better at what you do. I feel very fortunate also to work with directors like Scott Cooper, whom I had wanted to work with because I loved his previous films. I was also so thrilled to work with Luca Guadagnino, who saw really deeply into me and we developed such a good understanding of each other while working on A Bigger Splash.
STRIPLV: Was it interesting to be part of a big crime story in Black Mass?
JOHNSON: I was fascinated by how these people saw themselves as outlaws and enjoyed the challenge of breaking the law and defying authority. Even though they’re criminals, they are very strong characters with big personalities and their own sense of mission about what they do in life. They also have a fearless side that you can still admire, even though you might not like what they do. What made it really interesting for me is that the women in the film are very strong. They stood up to these men and they were an important part of the story. 
STRIPLV: You play a woman trying her best to deal with the life of living with a vicious mobster while raising their son. How did you approach your character?
JOHNSON: I saw her as a woman who is in a difficult situation, of wanting to give her child a healthy home life, even though she is aware that he will probably be drawn into his father’s life of organized crime. She knows what is right and wrong, and would like her son to have those kinds of values, but that’s very hard when the father, a very forceful and charismatic man, is teaching him that it’s alright to beat up people if they do something wrong to you. She would prefer it if Whitey would be gentler and play a bigger part in their lives, but that was never going to happen.
STRIPLV: Did you do any research into the character?
JOHNSON: Yeah, I did. There was a certain amount of information available, and some footage, and I was hoping that I could find something so that I could study mannerisms, or speech patterns. But all of the stuff that is available of Lindsey Cyr is pretty recent, and she’s sort of reflecting on her life. So, I didn’t get to see anything of their time together, obviously. Most of my research was just about Jimmy Bulger, and kind of then imagining what it would be like to be his wife.
STRIPLV: What was it like for you to work opposite someone like Johnny Depp?
JOHNSON: It was, I mean, extraordinary. Sadly, the things that we had to do were mostly very heartbreaking and it was a very heavy atmosphere. But I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anybody else. It’s an absolute privilege to work with someone who doesn’t have a limit to their capabilities as an artist. And there’s no fear. He’s not afraid to go to all these different places, and that made me feel like I could do the same. When we were filming, I feel like the scenes with Lindsey and with Jimmy Bulger—they’re like in their own little world, and he’s different, and you see a different side to him. And then all of a sudden, it just completely goes away, and it just comes crashing down, which is just awful. But doing the actual scenes was just lovely.  
STRIPLV: What attracts a woman to a man like Whitey, with this terrible dark side?
JOHNSON: Men like that have a very powerful personality and women are drawn to that. They’re very strong characters and very charismatic and those qualities can be very attractive.
STRIPLV: Could you ever find yourself attracted to someone like a Whitey Bulger, or a Christian Grey, for that matter?
JOHNSON: (Laughs) No. I would rather be with someone who is pleasant and very respectful. Also someone you can have a lot of fun with in life...
STRIPLV: You have some very intense scenes in Black Mass, a very compelling one in particular with Johnny Depp. What was that experience like?
JOHNSON: It was very heavy, and it was very difficult to do those scenes, because they’re so intense, emotionally. They’re the kind of moments you want to look for as an actor, but you also worry about how you’re actually going to get through those very rough kinds of scenes. When I read the script—that was the scene that I was kind of pointing myself towards, because I knew it would be so powerful and intense. But Johnny was so great and so good to work with that it made it much easier. Those were the moments where Whitey would show a side of himself that he would never show to anyone else but her. 
STRIPLV: Sounds like you had a great experience!
JOHNSON: Absolutely. But everything—to work with him, and then have the guidance of Scott, and have Masa (Cinematographer: Masanobu Takayanagi) behind the camera, was just like the perfect combination. Nothing could go wrong.
STRIPLV: What can you tell us about your role in next year’s film, A Bigger Splash?
JOHNSON: I play a young woman who is in the process of discovering her sexuality. Penelope is very smart, but she has a bizarre connection to the world around her and she’s trying to figure out so many things about herself, as well as her sexuality. She doesn’t know who she is yet, and she has an ability to manipulate others and play with people’s emotions. Penelope is at a point in her life where she’s also playing around with different ideas of who she is and who she wants to be. She’s a child in some ways and still in the process of becoming a woman. 
STRIPLV: What was it like working with an Italian director and shooting in Sicily?
JOHNSON: It was strange in a way, because I came into the film quite late and I didn’t have as much time to try to get into the character and figure her out, as I would have liked to. But Luca and I had some amazing discussions about her. Penelope doesn’t have enough life experience yet, and she’s struggling to understand how she fits into this world of adults around her, who also have a lot of complex issues they’re dealing with. I tried to compare myself to Penelope and we had some interesting similarities.
STRIPLV: What were they?
JOHNSON: (Laughs) I’m not going to say!

Aussie Hunks

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AUSSIE HUNKS

Jabbawockeez meets Magic Mike
By Marla Santos

WARNING: Aroused senses may stimulate sensual rhythmic pumping movements, followed by the IMMEDIATE SHREDDING of clothing. 

Sculpted muscular bodies, sexy dancing and beautiful smiles are all part of the eye-candy that women (and men) are flocking to at the Aussie Hunks show. No more quiet, sedate, blushing bachelorettes…Put them in a room full of Aussie Hunks and all hell breaks loose!  

The show is so hot, as one fan said:  

“ Their accents, alone, could melt your panties off!”

“Erotic hip-hop” is a new term created for the athletic hunks from Down Under. With their great street dancing, break dancing, locking, popping and seductive show, Aussie Hunks combines trained world-class dance segments with great music, comedy, and plenty of group interaction, while obligingly showing us almost all of what’s Down Under, to the screaming crowd’s delight.  

A couple of years ago, everywhere you looked, women were reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Women have decided they’ve been missing out on some sexy thrills and are now ready to have some risqué fun. And risqué fun it is! Fantasies have always been a part of the female life. All one needs to do is look at covers of their romantic reading material, featuring a handsome male with a body that spends hours in the gym, (hmm… just like the guys from the Aussie Hunks show).

For eight years, these limber, yet manly men performed their unique show in what was called Hunk Mania Australia. Then after becoming finalists on Australia’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance Australia, they brought their sexy production overseas to America, to excite both men and women alike with their 75-minute show, Aussie Hunks. The show pushes the envelope of what’s permissible, and it’s filled with energy, charisma and up-close-and-personal sexy naughtiness. The strength, agility and overall athletic ability of some of these performers bring this show to a completely different level than most other male revues in town. You won’t find one long line of synchronized “Rockettes” dancing (you know, where the men sometimes appear like their still counting their every step). Instead, Aussie Hunks focuses on each of the performer’s unique, individual abilities.  

C’mon, where else can you drink a free shot off of a Hunk (and select the body part of your choice)? And that includes the “Croc” (that’s Aussie for “male genitalia”). It’s all part of the “Let’s have fun!” attitude that prevails.

Besides the dancing talent, Aussie Hunks is definitely an erotic show, and the guys all work hard to fulfill both women’s and men’s fantasies. Surprisingly, it is a show without gender or sexual orientation concerns, and the men in the audience can receive attention, just like the ladies. It is the Aussie’s attitude that everyone should be happy and enjoy the show, stating: “It’s 2015!”

Just before entering the showroom, you can buy “Hunk Bucks”, which they use instead of real cash. Just wave them above your head and a “magically delicious” Hunk will appear on your lap. Feel free to push the “Bucks” in any slot you find of the nearly naked body on top of yours. The guys don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, and seem to be genuinely having fun with the audience They are very approachable and are more than happy to mingle with fans after their performance. It’s obvious the lights of Vegas and their ever-so-mesmerized fans have not jaded them yet.  

Darren, (or Daz, as the guys call him), is a former professional Aussie Rules Football player and co-founder of Aussie Hunks. There is not one muscle in his body that he can’t move. The show’s choreography is created by the professional choreographer Dai, who has won Hip Hop dance contests in Bangkok, Melbourne and Sydney. He also performs as an Aussie Hunk dancer in the show. The show’s MC is a fellow Aussie named Adam, who has performed in TV shows, films, and commercials around the world. He can speak fluent Japanese and shows off an striking full-back tattoo. The rest of the Hunks sometimes fluctuate between its members, but we took out a moment to sit with Aussie Hunks Chad, Australian Hip-Hop champion, with supermodel looks and a killer smile, who has traveled the world performing and competing; Tommy (pictured left), Australia’s most elite and sought after performer for TV, radio and appearances—when you see his take on Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike routine, you’ll know why; and Lenny (a true pioneer of street dance culture). He was a dance teacher for 10 years in Melbourne, and toured with the famous Australian band, The Cat Empire for 3 years. He was also the winner of the National Masters of Hip-Hop Australia. 

Sitting with Chad, Lenny, Tommy, and Jonathan (the groups’ co-owner and manager), we got the inside scoop on being a “Hunk” and even got some up-close-and-personal likes and dislikes for all the fans out there—of both men and women, alike.

STRIPLV: How did you become involved with Aussie Hunks?
CHAD: I started right off with break dancing when I was young. I saw it on TV, and then I went and threw myself into the grass trying to break dance. My mom was like: “What are you doing?” I told her: “I think I’m break dancing,” and then she took me to a class when I was 12, and I went from there. My break dancing was always erotic performing anyway, and I liked the idea of being even more erotic, as well. I met Darren through mutual friends, and Darren was very focused on dancing, as well as just stripping. We connected very well over that, so the vision to put it all together was like heaven for me. I’d been teaching break dancing and hip-hop my whole life, so it wasn’t really money that drove me to it, but the money was fine.
LENNY: I was self-taught and started just jamming with friends and seeing people in bars and whatnot. I was working with Darren, teaching him how to dance for a while back in Melbourne, and occasionally he would get me to come to the club and do a few little spots. All of a sudden he said: “Hey, do you wanna come to Vegas?” I said: “Fuck yeah, I’ll go to Vegas!” I’ve been teaching dance to everyone—people with disabilities, deaf people, people of all shapes and sizes. I do everything. There are a lot of girls that are even better than the guys. The way that girls move opposed to how guys move is very different. Guys move very stiff a lot of the time and girls are a lot smoother. 
TOMMY: I was a lifeguard at a beach in Brighton, just outside London, and I was stripping there, as well. I was working in a pub as a bartender and the minimum wage in the U.K. sucks pretty badly. I knew I wanted to do something more, because I wanted to work and travel and enjoy myself. So when the chef at the pub jokingly said: “You should be a male stripper,” I laughed it off. But a week later, I thought it didn’t sound like a bad idea and I should try it. Then I went to the strip club, Adonis, and I saw that it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was more like a production, like a show, like it is here. I wanted to be in it 100%! 
JONATHAN: Darren was specifically looking for talent and dancing for the Vegas show.
STRIPLV: Coming out of a bear costume to perform a Magic Mike routine was a tantalizing surprise. 
TOMMY: I never actually sat down and choreographed the whole thing. I started off just improvising, and it built into the moves I make now. I work like that. I’m not straight choreography, but I more improvise with little bits here and there. It just sort of formed itself.  
STRIPLV: Have you ever lost your footing, from all the water and soap suds routine?
TOMMY: Yes, all the time. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I’m getting good with my balance now, so I know when to steady up and slow down. It’s good though, you just laugh it off and everyone laughs. At the end of the day, if they’re laughing and having a good time, I’d rather have them laugh than be silent. At least I’m entertaining.

Monica Bellucci - Beauty, Brains & Bond

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MONICA BELLUCCI
Beauty, Brains & Bond

Monica Bellucci has long been regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful women.  

That assessment still holds true today, even at the age of 50, an age that still carries an irrational stigma for actresses and women, in general. But Bellucci is living proof that beauty is ageless, as she becomes the oldest Bond girl in the history of the film franchise with her role in Spectre, the new James Bond movie that marks Daniel Craig’s fourth appearance as “007” and which opens in theaters this November. Bellucci is not only proud of being a “Bond woman,” as she puts it, but also of her new life as a single mother of two following her 2012 separation from actor/husband Vincent Cassell. She believes that women should take charge of their sensuality, and that being desirable is much more a function of one’s sense of self than pure physical attractiveness.

“There is too much emphasis on the physical aspect of beauty and attraction when it comes to women,” Bellucci says. “I feel full of energy and excitement at this point in my life. I don’t think about my age as changing anything about how I should feel about myself. This is such a good time for me and I feel a great curiosity to discover new things about myself and life, in general.” 

Without doubt, Bellucci has been one of the most stunningly seductive actresses—but she is much more than just a head-turner—originally pursuing a career in law and multilingual in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Persian.

In addition to Spectre, Bellucci has also completed work on a very different film - On the Milky Road - a complex love story amid the blood and carnage of WWII by acclaimed Serbian author/director Emir Kusturica. 

Over the course of her career, Bellucci has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, appearing in major Hollywood films, including her Oscar-nominated portrayal as Malèna (Mary Magdalen) in Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ, Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm, as well as The Matrix sequels. In France, where she took up residence in the ‘90s, she has played in The Apartment (her first film in French), Irreversible, Secret Agents (all of which she co-starred with her then-husband, Vincent Cassel), and How Much Do You Love Me? (original title: Combien tu m’aimes?).

Monica Bellucci lives in Paris, together with her two daughters from Cassell: Deva, 10, and Leonie, 5. She is now divorced from Cassell after their 18-year-old relationship (and 14 years of marriage) and is currently “happily single.”

STRIPLV: Monica, does it bother you that so much fuss is attached to your having turned 50? 
BELLUCCI: I don’t really care... I’ve never approached aging as a traumatic experience. It’s beautiful to be 50 and having been able to appreciate so many different moments and gain so much more awareness of yourself and the world around you. I think we should celebrate that and draw inspiration from that. A woman can reflect so much beauty that way. 
STRIPLV: Does playing in a Bond film in some sense confirm that 50 does not mean that a woman can no longer be seen as attractive? 
BELLUCCI: I think it’s a sign that women deserve to be respected and considered beautiful at any age. Sensuality and sexiness does not just belong to women in their twenties or thirties. In the film business, there has often been this prejudice against older women, the same way that in our society older women tend to be overlooked. Women need to believe in themselves and understand that they can still project sensuality and beauty as they get older. We shouldn’t be made to feel as if we are no longer interesting or sexy at 50, as compared to when we’re 30. 
STRIPLV: You’ve lived your life as the object of intense scrutiny and admiration as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Is that a difficult burden? 

“ Beauty is a gift that is given to you. But you shouldn’t feel too proud, because you did nothing to achieve it. It’s simply something that is part of who you are, but not who you really are on the inside.”

BELLUCCI: Beauty can also be a double-edged sword, because there is so much pressure to maintain the image that the public has of you from when you were younger. But I have long ago accepted that getting older is a part of life and I am not worrying about trying to maintain an illusion. One day you’re seen as the most beautiful woman in the world and the next day there’s another woman who is given that kind of attention. It’s not real. 
STRIPLV: You have a natural sense of calm and confidence. Where does that come from? 
BELLUCCI: I take after my father a lot. He wanted me to be independent and to think for myself. My parents were very permissive and wanted me to be able to lead an interesting life. You can’t really ask for any better support than that. It gave me a sense of freedom and desire to explore life. 
STRIPLV: Aside from your work in Spectre, you’ve also shot On the Milky Road with Emir Kusturica. What was that experience like? 
BELLUCCI: The film is a love story set in wartime and shot in the wilderness. The story is divided into three chapters and Emir is also the main actor. For me, it remains one of my greatest experiences ever in my acting career. Kusturica is a complete artist: director, writer, musician, producer—but most of all, he is an amazing human being. 
STRIPLV: You left Italy to work in France. Was that an important decision in your life? 
BELLUCCI: One of the things I have loved over the course of my acting career is that I am able to explore different cultures. That’s why I was interested in working in France, where they make 350 films a year, as compared to 50 films a year in Italy. So it has always been a great pleasure for me to work with American, Italian, French and with Iranian and now a Serbian director. 
STRIPLV: How difficult was it to overcome all the obsessive attention to your beauty when you were trying to make your way as a serious actress? 
BELLUCCI: It was something that I had to confront, even before I started my acting career. When I was writing my final exams in Italy, my Greek professor was my examiner and he asked me very condescendingly: “When you become an adult, what are you going to do with your life? Are you going to be an actress or a TV presenter?” It was his way of trying to humiliate me, by suggesting that I had no business studying because of my looks. From his way of thinking, an actress didn’t need to study or take her education seriously. Of course, the great irony is that I did become an actress! 
STRIPLV: Was acting always your dream? 
BELLUCCI: I had wanted to be an actress since childhood and I’m very proud that I have made a good life with the career that I chose for myself. Acting was my salvation. It rescued me from being a full-time model, which was very unfulfilling. It took me time before I could prove myself as an actress, but once I did make some good films, it was much easier for me to find good roles that appealed to me. 
STRIPLV: What would your reaction be, if your daughters wanted to become actresses? 
BELLUCCI: I would be happy, and so would their father. But one thing I would be very against is if she wanted to become a model. I don’t want my daughters to be part of that world. Anything else. 
STRIPLV: What are the challenges of being single at this point in your life? 
BELLUCCI: It’s one of the most interesting and revealing chapters in my life... It’s a situation that I’ve never really experienced before. I always went directly from one relationship to another, and then I was married for 14 years. And when my marriage ended, it wasn’t because I met someone else, it was because our marriage had run its course. But since then I have found a new sensation of vitality and energy that I have never experienced before. 
STRIPLV: Is it destabilizing or even frightening in some way when you come out of a long marriage and find yourself without a partner in life? 
BELLUCCI: Being single does not mean being alone, of course. You have the freedom to have a relationship or not. Yes, there is some fear at times, but it’s also very stimulating and exciting, too! This is a very special time for me.

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