Shawn Levy made film studios very happy directing big family-friendly comedies--including all three Night at the Museum movies. But to make Shawn Levy happy, he realized he was going to have to try something new. Now he's coming off a banner year as a producer, including a best picture nomination for Arrival and last summer's breakout Netflix hit, Stranger Things, which is up for 18 Emmys. Levy tells us how he set about reinventing himself, and how his early experience as an actor in a zombie horror movie helped him as a director.
FROM THIS EPISODE
Matt Belloni, editorial director of the Hollywood Reporter, joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.
- Actor Ed Skrein dropped out of Hellboy in response to fan outcry about whitewashing. It's a significant move, and the first time an actor has ever willingly dropped out of a project for this reason, saying the role should go to someone whose ethnicity matches that from the source material, which in this case is Asian.
- With the kickoff of the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Oscar season has officially begun. It's welcome relief for film lovers who are sick of comic book movies.
In July of 2016, Stranger Things on Netflix came seemingly out of nowhere to become the buzziest show of the summer. The show struck a chord with members of the TV academy as well. It’s now up for 18 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series.
The executive producer of Stranger Things is Shawn Levy -- who before last year was best known as a director of family-friendly comedies, notably the Night at the Museum franchise. The broad comedies had broad appeal: the three Night at the Museum movies, all directed by Levy, made more than a billion dollars worldwide.
But eventually Levy wanted to break out of his box. He began to expand the mission of his production company -- 21 Laps. Last year his efforts paid off in a big way. In addition to Stranger Things, he produced Arrival, nominated for eight Oscars including best picture and best director.
Levy has come a long way from where he began his career -- not behind the camera but in front of it. He tells us how acting in a cheesy horror movie helped him become a better director, how he convinced Hollywood to reconsider him, and what might be next.
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