“World’s Best,” Disney’s all-new hip-hop musical comedy adventure, produced by the director of “Hamilton,” will stream exclusively on Disney+ beginning June 23, 2023. Co-written, co-executive produced and starring Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Ghosts,” “Free Guy”), who co-wrote the film’s original songs, this Disney+ Original Movie was directed by radiation oncologist turned filmmaker Roshan Sethi (“7 Days”). Joining Ambudkar in the film are newcomer Manny Magnus, Punam Patel, Jake Choi, Max Malas, Piper Wallace, Kayla Njeri, Dorian Giordano, Kathryn Greenwood, Christopher Jackson and Doug E. Fresh. “World’s Best” was written by Jamie King & Ambudkar, with original songs by Ambudkar and Charlie Wilder. Produced by Thomas Kail, who directed the Broadway smash “Hamilton” and produced and directed the 2020 film version, and Kate Sullivan, the film reunites Kail and Ambudkar who first collaborated as director and performer, respectively, of the improvisational hip-hop comedy musical group Freestyle Love Supreme. Terry Gould and Ambudkar serve as the film’s executive producers.
Ambudkar says, “We are all really excited to be bringing this film to Disney+. It’s got dope music and great comedy, and it brings up some important themes in a really accessible way. It’s emotional, it’s full of love and amazing energy and is a film the entire family can watch together. Plus, it presents for the first time a South Asian family at the core of a Disney movie–something I never had growing up–and was something I really wanted to give young people today.”
In “World’s Best,” 12-year-old mathematics genius Prem Patel (Magnus), in the midst of navigating the tumultuous hardships of adolescence, discovers his recently deceased father was a famous rapper and immediately sets out to pursue a career for himself as a rap superstar. While his actions may appear reckless and the quickest way for him to lose everything, Prem, empowered by imaginative hip-hop music-fueled fantasies where he performs with his father (Ambudkar), is determined to find out if hip-hop truly is in his DNA. As his father always used to say, “the world’s best never rest.”
Ambudkar’s additional film credits include “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” “Blindspotting” and “Pitch Perfect.” A rapper and creative force from a young age, Ambudkar was an original member of The Beatards, a NYC-based underground hip-hop group that performed alongside acts like Santigold, Azealia Banks, G-Easy, Public Enemy, Questlove and more. His work with the Beatards eventually helped Ambudkar land “Pitch Perfect.” Originating the role of Aaron Burr in the developmental readings of “Hamilton,” Ambudkar later reunited with Lin-Manuel Miranda as part of the improvisational rap group Freestyle Love Supreme, which garnered a special Tony® Award in 2021. “Vanity,” Ambudkar’s debut album as a solo artist, dropped in 2019 and was quickly followed by “Petty.” In 2020, he released “The Misfits EP” and single “Self Respect.”
By Mr. Will Wong
At long last, FREE GUY is set to arrive in theatres after multiple delays, but if you’ve heard the chatter, you’ll soon understand why this epic Comedy has been saved for our return to the theatres! Full of heart and surprises, the Film from Director Shawn Levy centers on a Bank Teller named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, ultimately becoming the hero of his own story…out to save the world!
We had the joy of sitting-in on the global Press Junket for this hilarious Blockbuster and in-attendance were a star-studded group:
Shawn Levy – Director
Ryan Reynolds – Guy
Jodie Comer – Millie/Molotov Girl
Joe Keery – Keys
Lil Rel Howery – Buddy
Taika Waititi – Antoine
Utkarsh Ambudkar – Mouser
Shawn Levy talks about the excitement of the world finally getting to see FREE GUY.
Levy: Well, it has been a ride and a longer wait than we expected but this Movie was such a delight to make. The making of it was pretty joyous and fun, we’re just really excited to get to share a movie that has that same fun and delight and warmth that was on-set. Hopefully it translated to the screen. In some of these early reactions it’s been really affirming and all coming through to audiences the way we hoped.
Ryan Reynolds talks about stepping into the world of a wholesome hero.
Reynolds: My default is just pure trash on the inside so this is slightly new for me. There’s a movie I like called ‘Being There‘ starring Peter Sellers and it was like the first foothold I hand into this world. There’s something really wonderful about playing a character who’s kinda naive and innocent. In a sense, he’s like a four-year-old adult. So there’s something kinda fun about exploring everything with new eyes, which is what this character gets to do, and filtering that through the prism of Comedy. I love playing a character who’s stepping out of the background and into this new person.
Jodie Comer does double duty as Molotov Girl and Millie and tells us about balancing this.
Comer: One thing which draw me to the role was the Team – working with the Creators of the Film and also the sheer imagination the Script has. I remember reading it and thinking ‘Omigosh, how is this gonna translate onto the screen?’. You have the real world mixed-in with the Video Game and I think it was just the scope of it and how much heart it had. You see that it’s written about as an Action-Comedy, but you see there’s so much more to that. It provokes so much emotion in you. I think it was the imagination the Script had for me.
Mariah Carey’s ‘Fantasy‘ plays a pivotal role in Free Guy and the question is asked about why this song in particular.
Levy: Ryan is a maestro of the odd, random but inspired song idea. He was obsessive about it early on as we were working on the Script. He said, ‘You know what I think should be the entire anthem of the Movie and marketing campaign?’. He suggested this song by Mariah and we know that by the Third Act of the Movie we have a cover of that song by our very own Jodie Comer!
Reynolds: In the earliest drafts we’d written The Outfield‘s ‘Your Love‘ and it ended-up not fitting right. It’s a great song but Mariah Carey‘s ‘Fantasy‘ just came in like a lightening bolt. It was like an engine through so much of the Movie. It’s really fantastic!
Reynolds and Howery talk about the central theme of friendship in the Film.
Howery: I like when I get to the end of it and that’s where the audience sees the last speech Buddy gives before this big thing happens. It is always weird when you do big speeches like this, you get emotionally tied to it. I remember shooting with Shawn and I had to go take a walk. I wasn’t gonna tear-up in front of him. Buddy has a couple of those moments which is what I love about the character, it’s that his innocence that came with how comfortable he was with his friendship. It is something really beautiful that happens towards the end that Buddy discovers with his best friend. It’s another conversation in the beginning Guy trying to convince him what the sunglasses was showing him. Buddy just stuck to his ways and we just saw the heart of him open and open which is why I live this character so much. People are really surprised how much heart it has. Yeah, you’re gonna tear-up!
Taika Waititi steals the show as villainous Antoine and talks about his character.
Waititi: I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was doing. We had one phone call (with Shawn) and I hadn’t really met you. Shawn described the character and that appealed to me. I just play visions of my mom in all my characters and so this was my little vision of my mom. I’ve actually met a lot of people like this in America and it’s what I think of Americans… at CAA parties.
Utkarsh Ambudkar and Joe Keery tell us about their characters’ catch phrases.
Keery: I think the best catch phrase is ‘catch-phrase’. I think that’s genius. I don’t feel my character really has a catch phrase.
Ambudkar: I don’t remember. Was it ‘Go Time? Yeah it’s Go Time, baby!’. That’s all me. I desperately tried getting Taika’s character on-board in this mentor/mentee-type relationship. Antoine is not having it at all. I think it makes for a funny chemistry between us. All of us got really lucky this whole Cast works really well together. Everyone makes each other look good. It’s rare you get this many people who get this energy going with each other so that’s awesome.
The Gaming industry is not unlike the Film industry in that they are male-dominated. Jodie Comer comments on the parallels in her character(s) and real life.
Comer: It was incredible and a huge part of what attracted me to the piece, especially having this girl Millie and Molotov being a creation of her. It was so important that it was always an essence of Millie but that Molotov was also very different so I really focused on the physicality. There is a lot of nuance within her world and even looking into how male-dominated that industry is, which is kinda similar to my own and those kind of fights we’re definitely up against, and the resilience in which that created in her. There was so much for me to play with. That was always really present and thought about from the moment I got the Script, the first draft to the moments we were on-set playing around, changing things. It was such a great experience bringing my own ideas to play.
Ryan Reynolds and Lil Rel Howery talk about the friendship they formed on and off-screen in FREE GUY.
Reynolds: Rel’s character and I live on this intersection a little bit on the page, a little bit on the moment. But I feel that’s the case of every single person on this webinar. Everybody here’s very good at creating and building and three-dimensionalizing their work. Rel and I immediately clicked. I was a huge fan of his. And we can all say he was a huge fan of Taika. It’s great to get out there, mess around and play and form that bond, and put it up on the big screen.
Howery: I mean for me it’s weird because Ryan Reynolds has been my friend in my head for a really long time. And to this day I don’t think he believes that I’m a legit fan. When he was winning everything with Deadpool I was calling people “I toldja! I toldja Ryan was a superstar!’. I don’t get nervous about meeting anyone but I was really nervous that first day. One of the fun things about this business is you get to work with people you really look up to, not just as an Actor but as a fan. I don’t know he’s gonna be my friend after this movie but we’re gonna enjoy the moment.
Levy and Reynolds tease the possibility of a Franchise for FREE GUY.
Reynolds: I hope we get to this again whether it’s in the form of a Sequel or something else. We’re lucky a couple people in here I’ve gotten to work with multiple times. If it’s not another FREE GUY movie or another movie in another form.
Levy: The short answer is ‘yes’. But I’ve made things that launched franchises and have made enough things to realize you just
I don’t know the outcome. We have flirted with some ideas but my favourite thing in Free Guy is that Taika‘s character in an original movie mocking the idea of releasing something new. It’s so rare a studio lets you make a big budget new movie. So to have Antoine played by Taika talking about sequels and having this cynical attitude towards them. I will say for anyone who’s seen the movie, if we do make Free Guy 2 it will be titled ‘Albuquerque, Boiled Turkey’! If you’ve seen the Movie you’ll get that joke! Based on one of 700 million improvised lines by Taika Waititi!
20th Century Studios Canada release FREE GUY August 13, 2021.
(Photo/video credit: 20th Century Studios)
Ryan Reynolds is back in FREE GUY! Check-out a brand-new version of the Trailer!
In “Free Guy,” a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides to become the hero of his own story…one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way…before it is too late. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Taika Waititi, “Free Guy” is directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn and a story by Lieberman.
20th Century Studios release FREE GUY is in theatres August 13, 2021.
(Photo/video credit: 20th Century Studios)
By Mr. Will Wong
One of this Holiday’s most pleasant surprises comes from the same Director as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones’s Baby, Sharon Maguire. GODMOTHERED centers on Eleanor (Jillian Bell), a Fairy Godmother-in-training who fears that her job will become extinct, setting-out to prove that the world still needs Fairy Godmothers. She finds a letter from a 10 year-old-girl named Mackenzie (Isla Fisher), who now happens to be a 40-year-old single mother who has been down on her luck at her job at a news station and also having lost her husband. Can Eleanor prove that a “happily ever after” exists in this world when Mackenzie has lost the faith and also doesn’t want Eleanor meddling in her life? GODMOTHERED also stars Santiago Cabrera, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Jane Curtin, June Squibb, Jillian Shea Spaeder, Willa Skye, Artemis Pebdani, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Stephnie Weir.
We had the joy of chatting with the Cast of GODMOTHERED in a virtual press conference featuring Bell, Fisher, Curtin, Spaeder, Skye, Pebdani, Ambudkar and Cabrera.
At the center of GODMOTHERED is a message of hope, challenging us to expand our idea of love and the “happily ever after”. The Cast is asked about the importance of this today.
Fisher: “For younger girls watching, happily ever after doesn’t have to include a castle, a prince and a dress. It can be things you have in your life, your work.”.
Curtin: “I think it represents the world today and that it’s not 1860 anymore. Happily ever after is what you want, what you believe and it’s a goal that you can achieve on your own if you want it and you believe that you can get it. It’s not reliant on magic. It’s reliant on you and your spirit. We are capable of such amazing and positive things for ourselves and others.”.
The Film hints at a message of inclusion, challenging the gender norms of a Fairy Godmother, particularly in an animated sequence at the end.
Bell: “I teared-up and actually got to see a one-sheet of all the Fairy Godmothers. I wrote back and and asked ‘Is that a boy or non-binary person?’. Either way I’m excited. This is progressive and inclusive and will make someone feel seen. And if we can do that in a big Disney movie, that’s a beautiful thing.”.
Santiago Cabrera plays Hugh, a co-worker of Mackenzie‘s and also a potential love interest. He normally plays more serious roles with a body of work that includes Heroes, Big Little Lies, Dexter and Merlin. He’s asked why he chose this more light-hearted role.
Cabrera: “I loved it wasn’t your typical prince. It was like Prince Charming in quotes, the underdog. I loved the part where he was the guy who wanted to be a serious journalist who wanted to report on important stories and news but was last in the ratings. Instead, he’s on a sensationalist morning show being abused by his boss and that kind of stuff. It had a lot of fun elements to it. You always want to change things up – opportunities come to do something different, go for it!”.
We asked the Cast about the experience of working with Sharon Maguire who manages to sprinkle some of that heartfeltness and whimsicality we saw in the Bridget Jones films, also in GODMOTHERED.
Curtin: “I’d never worked with Sharon before and I had a lovely time working with her. She’s very exact and she likes to do many takes, but she gets interesting things out of people. I thought it was fun working with Sharon.”.
Spaeder: “It was cool working with a female Director!”.
Bell: “I was such a fan of Bridget Jones and I was so excited to work with her. One of the first things she did was which I loved was get Isla and I together alone – and this is going to sound creepy (Fisher laughs) – in a hotel room. We got together and just started improvising, playing around and that set the tone for Isla and I to be playful with each other and go in knowing each other because I already knew Utkarsh because we’ve now done two movies together, but I didn’t know Isla or anyone else. But that was really nice. I really appreciated that.”.
Fisher despite having had much experience in her catalog of work, admits that she still feels some insecurities going to set.
Fisher: “It’s nerve-wrecking. I feel like everyone’s gonna realize I’m miscast. I sometimes show up with an idea and it gets thrown out the window. It’s like being new at school. You just want to do a really good job and try your best. You also have a lot of new people to meet and names to forget.”.
The Film is set in Boston, known affectionately as “Beantown“, which was a homecoming of sorts for Curtin.
Curtin: “I grew-up there. It was like going home. I loved riding to work every morning with those guys. It was like being home.”.
We also casually mentioned that our new puppy’s name is beanie, fitting since the Film is set in Beantown and there were plenty of smiles to be had!
The Cast is asked what wishes they’d want a Fairy Godmother to grant them right now.
Curtin: “I’d love for us to have a vaccine and go back to normal living. Or should we answer in fun ways?”.
Bell: “I want to be able to hug these lovely people. Isla was talking about getting all together and having a Cast party. We wrapped a couple days earlier that we were supposed to and never got to do that!”
One scene-stealer in the Movie is Gary the magical raccoon. Spaeder and Skye whom play Mackenzie‘s daughters Jane and Mia respectively, are asked what they would ask him to do if they had him in real life. Ambudkar, who plays Mackenzie’s boss also gets asked the question.
Skye: “I’d get him to make me a Smore because that’s my favourite dessert. He would clean my room for me defintely. And do my homework.”.
Spaeder: “I’d have him do my laundry. I’m 18 and I’m gonna pass myself off as an adult and do my own laundry but here I am passing it off to a magical raccoon.”.
Ambudkar: “Oh yeah, just started feeding our son solids so it’s harrowing. I know this is a Disney movie, but if you want to watch a Horror movie, just come to my house at 3 AM every night. I have a screaming banshee of a son who’s dropping bombs. Gary if you’re listening, help me out. I’m sleep-deprived!”.
Another scene-stealer in GODMOTHERED is the adorable pig whom we believe Eleanor had turned the family dog into.
Fisher: “It would go over the top of our dialogue. A screaming pig ruining our lines, right Jillian?”
Skye: “She had one temper tantrum in the middle of the scene!”.
Bell: “I feel like she had a different Script than the rest of us. She had different cues and exits.”.
Spaeder: “They’d yell ‘action!’ and she’d squeal until they yelled ‘cut!'”.
Watch the entire Press Conference here:
GODMOTHERED arrives on Disney+ Friday, December 4, 2020.
(Photo/video credit: Disney)
With some movie theatres set to open as soon as this Friday, one Toronto-made production is set to ring-in a return to the cinemas!
What if you saved a souvenir from every relationship you’ve ever been in? The Broken Hearts Gallery follows the always unique Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), a 20-something art gallery assistant living in New York City, who also happens to be an emotional hoarder. After she gets dumped by her latest boyfriend, Lucy is inspired to create The Broken Heart Gallery, a pop-up space for the items love has left behind. Word of the gallery spreads, encouraging a movement and a fresh start for all the romantics out there, including Lucy herself.
The romantic comedy stars Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo, Suki Waterhouse, Arturo Castro and Bernadette Peters. The film is produced and financed by No Trace Camping’s David Gross and executive produced by Selena Gomez, Mandy Teefey, Jesse Shapira, Jeff Arkuss, Josh Clay Phillips, Mason Novick and Michelle Knudsen. The film was shot in 2019 in Toronto and New York City, produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada and Ontario Creates. Sony Pictures will release in the US.
(Photo credit: Elevation Pictures)
Check-out this new Trailer for FREE GUY starring Ryan Reynolds!
In “Free Guy,” a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides to become the hero of his own story…one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way…before it is too late. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Taika Waititi, “Free Guy” is directed by Shawn Levy from a story by Matt Lieberman and a screenplay by Lieberman and Zak Penn.
See the Trailer:
20th Century Fox Canada release FREE GUY Friday, July 2, 2020.
(Photo/video credit: 20th Century Fox Canada)
Multi-talented Actor/Songwriter/Rapper Utkarsh Ambudkar is a star on the rise. The Baltimore-born talent recently was cast opposite Geraldine Viswanathan and Stranger Things/Power Rangers star Dacre Montgomery (whom we spotted a couple weeks back) in The Broken Heart Gallery. The Film, produced by among others Selena Gomez, just began production in Toronto last week and centers on a woman (Viswanathan) who falls out of love with her boyfriend/boss (Ambudkar) at the gallery she works and finds love in the lobby of a hotel in Montgomery‘s character.
To add to this, Ambudkar got a plum role as Skatch in Disney’s MULAN, which saw its first Teaser Trailer premiere over the weekend. Some of you might remember him also from the Pitch Perfect franchise, as well.
See our Snap:
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong/Universal Pictures)
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