Surely one of the most unlikely films to spawn a sequel in recent memory was Denis Villeneuve’s carefully crafted 2015 thriller Sicario. The film is an unflinching look at how America responds to violence abroad and our foreign policy at large, all told through the lens of an operation targeting Mexican drug cartels. It’s one of the best films of 2015, with tremendous performances by Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro, but a franchise? That seems an odd fit.
And yet, shortly before Sicario’s release, we learned that Lionsgate was developing a follow-up with the original film’s writer Taylor Sheridan. The studio subsequently set Gomorrah director Stefano Sollima to take the helm, and while Blunt isn’t returning, Del Toro’s character now takes center stage with Brolin also set to appear.
Production on Sicario 2 is set to get underway shortly (with Sicario 3 already in the works as well), and Collider’s own Tommy Cook recently got the chance to speak with Sheridan about the film at an event for the Western-tinged crime drama Hell or High Water, which Sheridan wrote. The screenwriter revealed that Sicario 2 doubles down on the hardened aspects of the first film:
“Lionsgate understood that they bought something that was a spec [on the first film]. So there was a certain amount of latitude they had to give me [on the sequel]. What usually would be a long meeting about what’s this character about, what’s his arc—we didn’t have that. They trusted me to just go do it, and with Sicario, which I’m really proud of, it really approaches some difficult subjects. I didn’t want to demean that with the second one. So I really wrote something I double dared them to actually make. Ten times more unsentimental, more vicious and really reflective… It’s funny a lot of people think Sicario‘s about the drug war and the cartels. It’s not. It’s a movie about American policy and the way that we police and [Sicario 2] is that on steroids.”
Do you prefer beer in a glass or in a bottle? “Bottle. Just because it’s more convenient. It’s a straight line from the bottle to me. There are no pit stops. No changing of planes.”
What is your ideal beer temperature? “Cold. I can drink coffee if it’s room temperature, but beer’s got to be cold.”
Do you believe in the old adage of beer before liquor? “I believe in not mixing. When you start mixing, you’re walking yourself to a headache.”
What is your personal hangover cure? “Those days are gone for me. But perhaps the one thing that worked was drinking water. There might be moments that you celebrate something and you’re with friends and you might go a little bit past that line— those [times] are fun. I live in L.A., too, where you have to drive, so you got to be very conscientious about that. There are limits.”
Is your home set up for easy entertaining? “I got a fridge and a living room.”
Are your friends like mine and insist on hanging out in the kitchen? “Always the kitchen. I spent time with Hunter S. Thompson, the writer, and his office was in the kitchen and it was because of that. Everybody hangs out by the kitchen, so he made his office [there]. Really smart.”
Did you learn anything else while drinking with him? “Ice. It was important to have ice. If he ordered a drink or a beer or whatever, he ordered a bucket of ice. He kept everything cold. His glasses would be filled with ice.”
Do you have ice at home? “I do have some ice. If you come to my house and you need some ice I can provide it—[but] probably not as much as Hunter could provide.”
Spending time with him must have been amazing. “Not necessarily because of the drinking, but as a writer, as an artist…His generation. What he lived through. The way he retained everything, politics. He was quite a person. He would sit down and listen.”
How much time did you get with him? “I spent as much time as I could. Getting to know him, I drove him a little nuts. Picking his brain to understand the character [of Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas] I was playing. Both Johnny [Depp] and I spent a lot of time hanging from his coattails, so to speak.”
Is it ever appropriate to drink shots? “It all depends who’s your company. Depends how your day went. Depends what tomorrow will bring. If I drink, I don’t like to leave reality. When I was younger, I would leave reality completely. By that I mean like you’re upside down. I can enjoy a drink with limits and there is a true art to that. A little bit is good and makes me feel good and not lose control—or be upside down.”
When did you first try alcohol? “The first time I tried alcohol was from my uncle. I must have been a kid and he gave it to me to taste. And I didn’t like it. It was beer. I don’t remember what beer. I would like to say it was in a green bottle. But I don’t remember.”
Cameras started rolling on Star Wars: Episode VIII, directed by Rian Johnson, at the beginning of this year. More than five months later and after a pitstop at Star Wars Celebration Europe, it’s a wrap on the next chapter of the sci-fi saga.
Johnson posted a gif of “the final slate of the final shot” announcing the end of production, writing, “VIII is officially wrapped. Cannot wait to share it with you all!”
As we learned from the filmmaker during Celebration, Episode VIII will pick up where The Force Awakens left off. Rey (Daisy Ridley) was seen standing before Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), ready to start her Jedi training after helping to deal an explosive blow to The First Order.
John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Dohmnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, and Carrie Fisher return for Episode VIII, alongside franchise newcomers like Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran.
“It was an incredible experience on many different levels,” Johnson said at Celebration. “You come into it with nostalgic feelings, but your job is to get beyond that very quickly.”
And now we wait. Star Wars: Episode VIII will hit theaters on Dec. 15, 2017.
— Star Wars (@starwars) July 22, 2016
Sicario sequel Soldado won’t take a traditional route, director Stefano Sollima revealed Wednesday. The 2015 crime thriller’s follow-up will instead serve as the second installment of a three-part anthology, acting as more of a standalone film than a true sequel.
“[It’s a] completely different story with just two of the characters that you met in Sicario,” Sollima told the Independent. “The antagonists are now absolutely the main characters.”
This means focus will be flipped toward hitman Alejandro Gillick (Benecio del Toro) and CIA agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin). As previously reported, Emily Blunt, who led Sicario as FBI agent Kate Macer, will not return. She’s next set to star as the titular Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns.
The original film followed a team of government officials enlisted to take down an illicit Mexican drug cartel, though little has been revealed about where Soldado’s plot will pick up. Writer Tyler Sheridan told EW last year that he was “very intrigued” by del Toro’s Alejandro, and felt there was much left unsaid about the character’s journey.
“One of the things [Soldado] touches on is everyone is offered choices in life: do what feels good or do what is good,” Sheridan said of Alejandro’s storyline. “You make the wrong choice enough, and then it’s not presented again. Then every choice is bad, and each consequence worse. You fall down this rabbit hole where no matter what you do, suffering is on either side.”
No further details have been announced for Soldado. Sollima will debut his upcoming mob drama Suburra on June 26, while original Sicario director Denis Villeneuve is currently at work on Blade Runner 2 with Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and House of Cards’ Robin Wright.
Lionsgate and Black Label Media are getting closer to a production start on Soldado, the second installment of the drug war thriller that began with 2015’s Sicario. I’m told that Stefano Sollima is the front-runner to direct the second installment and should have the job shortly, with talks expected to wrap up quickly. Denis Villenueve directed the first film. Sollima is the Italian director who has made a number of memorably gritty crime thrillers but is best known for directing the Italian miniseries Gomorra and the features Suburra and A.C.A.B. (All Cops Are Bastards). Soldado was scripted by Taylor Sheridan. Black Label Media and Lionsgate are co-financing.
The sequel focuses on Alejandro Gillick, the shadowy Man on Fire-like protagonist played by Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin’s CIA agent Matt Graver, who in the first film established themselves as hellbent on hunting down cartel kingpins, no matter what. The script by Sheridan — who wrote the original — has been very well received. Gone is the principled FBI agent character played by Emily Blunt. The subject matter is very topical, as Gillick and Graver concern themselves with what is being smuggled across the border between Mexico and the U.S. in the tunnels used to move drugs and illegal immigrants. Those tunnels also can be used to bring terrorists into the U.S.
The sequel is being produced by Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk, Black Label’s Molly Smith and Thad and Trent Luckinbill, and Edward McDonnell. I’m told that the plan is to move into production by the fall and that the talent all has sparked to Sollima. Final meetings with the studio are happening shortly. Sollima is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Black Label Media just teamed with Lionsgate for the Emma Stone-Ryan Gosling-starrer La La Land, and Black Label is backing the Danny Strong-directed Rebel in the Rye.
Paramount has prevailed in a seven figure deal to develop a movie out of The Corporation: An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld. The deal was sold based on a 100 page proposal for a book by TJ English. Benicio Del Toro is attached to play Jose Miguel Battle Sr. (“El Padrino”), the leader of “The Corporation” – also known as “The Godfather.” Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson will produce with The Picture Company’s Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman. They will produce with Jaydee Freixas and Tony Gonzalez, who controlled the rights. Paramount’s Liz Raposo championed this and Michael Hampton is the Appian Way exec who was all over this. It got pretty hot and heavy today in bidding, with multiple suitors in the mix. David Matthews, a writer on the HBO series Vinyl, will adapt the book.
Battle had an illustrious career on both sides of the law. He was Batista’s bag man, bringing him his cut from the gambling casinos when the Mafia ran Cuba. Battle escaped to the States where he and other Cubans were trained by the CIA to invade the country at the ill-fated Bay of Pigs. Having saved the lives of 28 of his men, The Godfather came out of that debacle as a certified hero to many Cuban-Americans. The core of the gang had been trained as a unit, and together formed “The Corporation.” They started out running the popular numbers racket, known as “bolita,” but soon moved on to money laundering and murder. The nonfiction book will be published in winter 2017 by William Morrow. It’s being called a Cuban version of The Godfather and American Gangster. Several other studios bid on the property. There was one from Sony, with Scott Rudin, Amy Pascal and Paul Greengrass, but they bowed out early this evening over price. Ratpac and Heyday were into it with Oscar Isaac attached to play the title character; Lionsgate and MGM teamed with Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell’s Safehouse Pictures and Antoine Fuqua; and Universal and producer Scott Stuber were also bidding. Paradigm brokered the book deal, and LBI Entertainment reps Del Toro, DiCaprio and Appian Way. This was a statement buy for Paramount in its relationship with Appian Way, which just moved its deal over there from Warner Bros. It is a priority for Brad Grey to get the prolific production company into big properties, and this has the potential to be just that. Del Toro is coming off a sizzling performance in Sicario, and this is an opportunity to play another badass character. It also gives The Picture Company a big film, as it preps the Liam Neeson-starrer The Commuter.