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Epic

Monday 17th June 2013

Epic is a 3D CG adventure comedy that reveals a fantastical world unlike any other. From the creators of Ice Age and Rio, Epic tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures, to save their world... and ours.
Blake Anderson, Aziz Ansari, Allison Bills, Jim Conroy, Todd Cummings, John DiMaggio, Troy Evans, Colin Farrell, Jason Fricchione, Judah Friedlander, Helen Hong, Josh Hutcherson
Chris Wedge
Jerry Davis, Lori Forte, James V. Hart, William Joyce, Michael J. Travers
Unknown
1 hour 42 minutes
2013

Epic is a 3D CG adventure comedy that reveals a fantastical world unlike any other. From the creators of Ice Age and Rio, Epic tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures, to save their world... and ours.

Having brought to life one of the most beloved and successful animated motion picture franchises, Ice Age, director Chris Wedge and his teams at Blue Sky Studios (of which Wedge is a co-founder) achieve new heights of realism, action, adventure and detail, with Epic.

Wedge's initial inspiration for Epic came in 1998, when he attended an art exhibition of 100-year-old paintings that depicted intricate realms existing in the woods. "The paintings had magical notions of tiny civilizations living in the trees and bushes", Wedge recalls. "They looked like magnificent worlds and I thought there had to be a movie here".

As Wedge completed work on his acclaimed animated feature "Robots", ideas for a film about an unseen universe continued to percolate. At the same time, author William Joyce, who had collaborated with Wedge on "Robots", wrote the children's book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, which introduced Samurai-like warriors, the Leafmen - and a war being waged in our own backyards between the forces of life and the forces of decay.

Blue Sky Studios' cutting-edge animation was the perfect fit to bring Epic alive. "Some places you can't go any other way but animation", Wedge explains. "We had been developing our artistic and technical capabilities and we now had the ability to create entire worlds based in nature. I thought I could immerse audiences - visually, intellectually and emotionally - in a realm we could experience only through animation".

Epic's world, which unites the familiar and the fantastic, is a forest unlike any we've seen before: tiny seeds look like boulders; rocks are the size of spiky mountains; flowers are gigantic and complex; and a butterfly is a nothing short of a flying tapestry.

In this world, Wedge interweaves spectacular battle scenes with intimate and emotional character interactions and seasons the tale with humor, fun and romance. While the film's visual wonders breaks new ground in animated spectacle, realism, action and adventure, it is Epic's characters and the actors who portray them that take center stage.

We experience the world of Epic through the eyes of Mary Katherine (she prefers M.K.), a smart, spirited and headstrong 17-year-old who finds herself on the journey of a lifetime. After returning to her childhood home to connect with her estranged father, Professor Bomba, M.K. loses patience with his endless stories of unseen people who live in the woods. But when she is magically transported into the Leafmen's world, she gains a new perspective. To find her way home, M.K. must do more than believe in this world; she'll have to help save it.

Amanda Seyfried, the versatile and popular star of movies such as Les Miserables and Momma Mia, portrays M.K., whom the actress describes as "strong-willed and disconnected from her father to the point where she thinks there's no way she's going to be able to even live with him".

But M.K.'s incredible journey to a secret universe in her own backyard changes many things about her, not the least of which is her feelings about her dad. "She ultimately comes to believe in him", says Seyfried. "He was right about so many things".

The other man in M.K.'s life is a resident of this unseen realm, named Nod. Josh Hutcherson, who stars as the warrior Peeta Mallark in the blockbuster "The Hunger Games" trilogy, portrays Nod.

Rakish and handsome, Nod is all about bucking the rules and flying solo. But his brazen individualism doesn't square with the Leafmen's ideals of teamwork and unity, so he quits the squad. After M.K. enters his world - and when the stakes are high - Nod discovers what it takes to be a true hero.

M.K. and Nod concurrently undergo transformative journeys, which bring them together and which in turn trigger romantic fireworks that are initially mixed with suspicion and resistance. Part of their attraction to one another stems from their feelings of being disconnected to anything else - M.K. by the circumstances of her unsuccessful reunion with her father and Nod by his rebellious nature, which he directs mostly toward his father figure, the Leafmen's leader, Ronin.

Nod locks horns with Ronin with as much undisciplined and un-Leafman-like behavior as Nod can muster. "Nod is rebellious and free-spirited and unaware of the formidable responsibilities to protect his world", says Hutcherson. "After meeting M.K., he learns a lot about himself and comes to understand and embrace his destiny.

"Ronin is a surrogate father to Nod and the Leafmen leader has been trying to look after Nod, but he's not very good at it", Hutcherson continues. "Ronin is stoic and staunch and Nod's just not that way, at least not at first. They don't see eye-to-eye on much".

Nod's fearlessness, formidable skills as a pilot and recklessness are experienced during a fast-and-furious combination of a race and dogfight in which the filmmakers hurtle Nod, his opponents - and the audience - through trees, brambles and fields in an electrifying competition.

Ronin is none too pleased with these kinds of extra-curricular and non-Leafman-esque activities. The chisel-faced, battle-hardened leader of the Leafmen, the elite corps of warriors sworn to protect all life in the forest, Ronin lives by the creed "many leaves, one tree" - meaning, we're all individuals, but at the same time, part of a community. He wouldn't think twice about putting his own life on the line for someone he cares about. When the forest and his beloved Queen come under siege, Ronin rallies the Leafmen into action with bravery and wry humor.

Colin Farrell portrays Ronin. A native of Ireland, Farrell initially tried an American accent on for size, but the filmmakers discovered that his own brogue was a winning combination of charm and naturalness that was perfect for the character.

The filmmakers didn't make things easy for Farrell, having conceived Ronin, notes art director Michael Knapp, "as Clint Eastwood meets John Wayne". If that wasn't enough pressure, Farrell points out that the film's title heightens the challenge for all of Epic's cast and crew: "The film is Epic by name, Epic by nature and Epic by experience", says the actor. "I think it truly lives up to all that the title implies, with its ambitious reach in scale, the breadth of its cast and the stunning visual imagery".

Ronin's and his Leafmen's mode of transportation are hummingbirds, which in the world of Epic race into battle with the capabilities of both a motorcycle and helicopter. "They are the most agile birds imaginable", says Knapp. "They can flip over, fly upside down and backwards - whatever you need them to do".

Ronin's closest and most powerful ally is Queen Tara, portrayed by legendary musical artist Beyoncé Knowles, who makes her animated feature debut in Epic. Beautiful, agile and strong, Tara isn't just the Leafmen's Queen; she's the life force of the forest, which she presides over with respect, compassion and humor. A flirty intensity burns between Tara and Ronin; Tara is Queen to all, but to Ronin, she's something more.

When Tara finds herself in danger, she knows she can always rely on Ronin, but her unique connection with nature gives her additional and powerful allies. And when all hope seems lost, she summons help from the most surprising of places.

Tara is nothing less than the forest itself. She has a powerful connection with her land: flowers bloom and bend toward her and leaves bow to Tara. "Tara is the heart of the forest, personified and she's beloved by her people, called the Jinn", says Beyoncé.

Beyoncé agrees with Farrell that the film lives up to its grand title. "Epic is about a massive battle between good and evil, set against a huge landscape you've never before experienced in a film", she points out. "Everything in Epic is big - the action, stakes, characters - but at the same time they're all really relatable".

Beyoncé found much to admire in Tara, beyond the character's elegance, powers and royal position. "What I like most about Tara is that she sets a great example for the people she protects and Tara is a role model for the younger characters".

In casting the role, Wedge, unsurprisingly, thought, "big", because, he says, "Tara had to be larger than life and even iconic". And there's no bigger entertainer and artist than Beyoncé. Adds producer Jerry Davis: "Beyoncé has the command and presence of a queen but without the typical formality".

While her incredibly flexible and dexterous singing voice is beloved worldwide, it was Beyoncé's speaking intonations that convinced the filmmakers that she was Queen Tara. "Beyoncé's voice has a beautiful, velvety quality. There a presence in her speaking voice that really pulls you in", says producer Lori Forte.

Queen Tara's home is Moonhaven, a veritable Eden formed out of living plants and stone and which emanates perfection and harmony. One of Moonhaven's most sacred enclaves is a patch at the end of a pond where two of her subjects tend to pods from which Tara will select her heir. Once every 100 years a new pod blooms to take over for the current queen.

The two loyalists to whom Tara has entrusted this crucial task are Mub, a slug and self-characterized "ladies' man", who is low on the evolutionary food chain but high in self-esteem; and his sidekick Grub, a snail and wannabe Leafman. Though this slug-and-snail comedy duo is spineless, literally, they show real backbone by joining the quest to save their world.

So basically, the future of Moonhaven has been entrusted to amorphous blobs with extended eyeballs, who fancy themselves as heroes.

While it's easy to underestimate the duo - and almost everyone except the Queen does so - comic actor Aziz Ansari, who portrays Mub, points out that there's more to this duo than meets the eye(balls). "Mub may be a slug, but he's deep. After all, they're caretakers of the pod and executives in charge of moistness. The pod needs moisture and who better to provide that than a slug and a snail?"

"Mub and Grub dream big", says the star of the acclaimed sitcom Parks and Recreation. Mub's big - if not impossible - dream comes in his relentless wooing of M.K, an attraction he believes is mutual. "Mub feels that M.K.'s connection to him is undeniable; it's a done deal", says Ansari. "Which is kind of strange because he's not even a human being, so there's that barrier".

Grub's own dream is almost as impossible as his sidekick's: how can something so low on the evolutionary scale aspire to become one of the Leafmen, a warrior of uncommon physical abilities? "Grub finds it difficult to be even considered a candidate for Leafman-hood", says Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids), who portrays Grub. "The Leafmen are quite agile, among other things and agility isn't much of a factor when you're a snail. But Grub has a lot of courage, if not much bone structure. He has the will to be a Leafman, if not the wherewithal. But sometimes you've got to fake it 'til you make it, which is Grub's philosophy".

For Wedge and his design and animation teams, the two characters and their signature goo were "hands-down the most difficult we've had to rig and animate because they can move into almost any shape".

"We worked really hard to get the goo right", adds Knapp.

The efforts of Mub, Grub and the entire Leafmen cadre will be needed to protect the pod and the Queen's legacy against the forces of darkness known as the Boggans - crafty, malevolent creepers that seek to destroy Moonhaven. For the Boggans, rot rules.

The filmmakers envisioned the Boggans as the creators of decay in the natural world. Wedge explains: "You might take a walk in the woods or in a park and see something that looks like a cancerous knob growing out of a tree. That's the handiwork of the Boggans". Their capital of decomposition is called Wrathwood, whose dark, twisty and claustrophobic tunnels provide a sharp contrast to Moonhaven's openness and light.

The chief force behind the darkness and destruction is the Boggans' ruler, Mandrake. Gifted, or cursed, with the ability to bring destruction to anything he touches, Mandrake and his Boggan minions are the arch-nemeses of the Leafmen. Mandrake is tired of hiding in the shadows and with his son Dagda (played by Blake Anderson) by his side, he plans the ultimate revenge - to claim the forest he believes should have always been his.

As portrayed by two-time Academy Award®-winning actor Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds), Mandrake is devious, dangerous, erudite, droll and ironic. His eloquent and sharp musings and threats are complemented by his vampire-like appearance. He even sports a bat cape, "like the Native Americans wore buffalo skins", says Wedge. "They would conquer the soul of the animal and wear its skin and Mandrake does the same" with the nocturnal and feared rodents. Bats are also the Boggans' preferred mode of transport.

Wedge embraced the opportunity to work with Waltz and got more collaboration than he expected when the director read lines opposite Waltz during recording sessions. "Christoph wanted to play the scenes at all times, so our podiums were set up across from each other. He'd perform Mandrake and I'd read whichever character he was playing against. Every time I'd look up from my script page, there was Christoph staring me down, in true Mandrake style. He was in the scene completely. It was intimidating and thrilling".

A far more affable figure than Mandrake - and very much on the side of the Leafmen - is Nim Galuu. Nim is the consummate party animal, but don't let this larger than life caterpillar fool you - his wisdom and practical know-how make him a key behind-the-scenes player in the Epic battle to save the forest.

Nim possesses a broad frame, six arms, four legs - and signature smoking jacket, whose pattern was inspired by butterfly wings.

Portraying Nim is Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. At first glance, the choice of a rock and roll icon to essay the avuncular (though fun-loving) forest sage is unexpected, but Wedge notes that the idea to cast Tyler "just came to us and we ran with it. Listen to Steven's voice; it has all the necessary texture for Nim, who like Steven is a fun character with lots of energy".

For Tyler, the role reminded him of some his experiences as a youngster. "I grew up in the wilds of New Hampshire and I always thought there was something to be said for the quiet of the woods", he explains. "At the same time, I was afraid of the woods, but I grew to love it. So I think Epic is the perfect story to tell".

As Colin Farrell did with his early explorations in voicing Ronin, Tyler experimented with several accents for Nim. Here, too, Wedge encouraged the actor to use his own voice. "Yeah, Chris knocked me down a peg when I tried those accents", Tyler recalls.

If Queen Tara and the Leafmen embody the forces of light and Mandrake and the Boggans the forces of darkness, then the character Bufo straddles both worlds. A tough-guy toad, Bufo is a wheeler and dealer who plays all the angles: he profits no matter which side wins or loses.

In yet another example of inventive casting, rapper/singer/songwriter Pitbull is Bufo. "We were looking for a certain archetype and asked ourselves, where do you go?" Wedge explains. "Well, you don't go to the normal field of actors; you go to musical artists. Pitbull brings something special to the role".

Pitbull, whose current hit (performed with Christina Aguilera) is "Feel this Moment", likens musicianship to the experience of a team of animators, designers and actor joining forces to create a film character. "When I make records I can hear a beat and know exactly what I'm going do and how it's going to come about", he explains. "So for an animator to see me and my expressions and translate those to a character... that's amazing".

Coming full circle, back to M.K. and her incredible adventure, we meet her father, Professor Bomba, who ultimately unites the Leafmen and Moonhaven with the human world.

A quirky, absent-minded professor, Bomba has grown out of touch with M.K. He lives in the middle of the forest, in a rundown house, where he surrounds himself with bizarre homemade gadgets. His life has been dedicated to - some would say obsessed with - studying a civilization of tiny people he's never seen. But when M.K. disappears, Bomba must put his own dreams under the microscope and find what he's really always been looking for.

The father-daughter dynamic creates "the film's emotional core", insists SNL star Jason Sudeikis, who plays Bomba.

"Bomba's a bit of an eccentric and is fun, playful, witty and kooky", the actor continues. "Unfortunately, M.K. doesn't understand the appeal of his quest to find the hidden world in the forest he knows is there. But I really like that he has all these mad synapses firing - all these things going on in his head. Most of all, I like the fact that he believes in something bigger than himself".

Bomba lives in a cluttered, dilapidated mansion - "it's not a house; it's termites holding hands", says the taxi driver (30 Rock's Judah Friedlander) who drops off M.K. at Bomba's house - amidst assorted contraptions, inventions, sensors, cameras, tracking devices, buzzers, alarms... and an old, three-legged pug with a tendency to drool named Ozzy. Bomba's faithful sidekick, Ozzy is aged but he has the heart of a champion show dog.

Casting the film with this star-studded ensemble was a daunting, if not "terrifying" task for Wedge, who explains: "There's so much riding on the casting. Creating a character is collaboration between design, writing, acting, animation and voice. And I want all those separate elements to come through as one character. I try and meld the voice with the character design so that it brings the character to life, but doesn't pull you out of the movie".

During the post-production period that encompassed editing, scoring, color timing, sound mixing and innumerable other tasks, Wedge took time to reflect upon the myriad challenges and opportunities afforded by Epic, singling out the critical work of his various department heads and their teams.

Production designer Greg Couch was one of the first filmmakers to work with Wedge on Epic, painting ideas for its world, early in the project's development. "Greg's work is very painterly, magical and mesmerizing", says the director. Michael Knapp came onboard as art director, designing characters, colors, environments, textures, story and lighting. As art director, he worked with Wedge to transform the familiar environs of a woods into a kind of alien universe, where the colors are more vivid, the light more expressive and vegetation sways as if it were consciously alive.

Supervising animators Galen Tan Chu and Melvin Tsing ChernTan explored unexpected ranges of motions for the characters and creatures, with the Sculpting, Modeling, Rigging, Hair Fur, Materials and Effects departments also making critical contributions to the world of Epic.

With these departments achieving unprecedented levels of realism and spectacle, Wedge singles out "pushing the animation further than ever before" as another formidable creative challenge. "Our characters in Epic are the most sophisticated-looking and human-looking of all our Blue Sky Studios projects", he says.

The Blue Sky Studios team has no bigger fan than Beyoncé Knowles, who says, "The animators based much of their work on footage of the actors recording our lines, so my facial expressions and body language have become part of Queen Tara.

"I was blown away by the detail in the animation", she continues. "It's very hard to even tell it's animation; it looks so lifelike. I've always imagined being in an animated film, so to see that happen was really exciting for me".

Another giant in the music world - composer Danny Elfman (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Simpsons Movie) - brought his singular talents to Epic's score. "I thought Danny would give the film a heightened reality and emotion, while also capturing its tongue-in-cheek elements", says Wedge. "Of all the scores we've done at Blue Sky Studios, this one feels the most - I hate to use the word 'Epic' - but it feels like a big movie".

Academy Award-winning sound designer Randy Thom's (The Incredibles) work is interwoven with Elfman's score to create additional aural magic. Thom takes nature's sounds - such as leaves rustling in the wind, a bird taking flight, or a woman's gentle breath - and creates something slightly otherworldly.

Action is also king - or, in this case, Queen - in Epic, which features two spectacular battles, including the climactic confrontation in which the Leafmen, M.K. and Bomba face off against Mandrake and the Boggans that will decide the fate of Moonhaven. It's grand storytelling, giant action and bigger than life heroes and villains in the ultimate war between good and evil.

It's Epic. And it's all happening in a world you've never seen before - but is as close as your own backyard.

Colin Farrell (Ronin) continues to turn heads in Hollywood. In 2009 Farrell won a Golden Globe® Award for his role in Martin McDonough'sIn Bruges and recently reteamed with the filmmaker to play the lead role in Seven Psychopaths, about a screenwriter drawn into the dognapping escapades of his friends (played by Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken). He is currently on screen in the dark thriller Dead Man Down, opposite Noomi Rapace, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, who helmed the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Farrell recently wrapped Saving Mr. Banks, with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, which is a behind-the-scenes look at how the beloved Disney film Mary Poppins came to be. Farrell is currently shootingWinter's Tale for the Academy Award- winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, who is making his directing debut. This fantasy tale is set in 19th century and present-day Manhattan and revolves around a thief, a dying girl and a flying white horse.

Farrell's recent credits include Len Wiseman's remake of Total Recall, opposite Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston; Peter Weir's The Way Back, with Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess; Neil Jordan's Ondine, alongside Alicja Bachleda; and William Monahan's London Boulevard, with Keira Knightley.

He has also delivered memorable performances in such films as Gavin O'Connor's Pride and Glory, Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, Michael Mann's Miami Vice, Terrence Malick's The New World, Michael Mayer's A Home at the End of the World, Oliver Stone's Alexander and two Joel Schumacher films, Phone Booth and Tigerland.

Other film credits include Fright Night, Horrible Bosses, The Recruit, Minority Report, Ask the Dust, Daredevil, American Outlaws,S.W.A.T. and Intermission.

Born and raised in Castleknock in the Republic of Ireland, the actor is the son of Eamon Farrell and the nephew of Tommy Farrell, both of whom played for the Irish football club Shamrock Rovers in the 1960s.

It was Farrell's early teenage ambition to follow in his father and uncle's footsteps, but his interest soon turned toward acting and he joined the Gaiety School of Drama in Dublin. Before completing his course, Farrell landed a starring role in the telefilm Falling for a Dancer, based on the novel by Deirdre Purcell. After playing a recurring character on the BBC series Ballykissangel, he landed his first major film role in The War Zone (1999), Tim Roth's directorial debut.

Josh Hutcherson (Nod), at 20 years old, has quickly become one of Hollywood's most accomplished young actors. In 2012, he was honored with the Cinema Con award for Breakthrough Actor, the MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance, Logo's New Now Next Award for the Next Mega Star and GLAAD's Vanguard Award.

Josh is best known for his portrayal of Peeta Mellark in the widely successful film, The Hunger Games alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks. The Hunger Games was the first film in the popular trilogy based on the novels by Suzanne Collins and was critically acclaimed in addition to setting several box office records. Josh will reprise his role in the final two films of the trilogy, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Catching Fire will be released in the fall of 2013.

Last year, Josh was seen starring in Red Dawn, a remake of the 1984 classic about a group of teenagers trying to save their town from foreign soldiers, Journey 2: Mysterious Island alongside Michael Caine and Dwayne Johnson, the independent feature film Detention, in which Josh also served as executive producer and an omnibus film entitled Seven Days in Havana, which features seven shorts directed by seven different directors. Josh is currently filming Paradise Lost; a drama about the notorious kingpin, Pablo Escobar, which also stars Benicio Del Toro.

In 2010, Josh co-starred alongside Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in Lisa Cholodenko's Academy Award nominated feature film The Kids are All Right. The film debuted at that year's Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Focus Features in one of the festival's biggest deals. It premiered to rave reviews and garnered the feature film prize at the Berlin International Film Festival's Teddy Awards in addition to Screen Actors Guild®, Independent Spirit Awards and Golden Globe nominations.

Additional film credits include The Vampire's Assistant, opposite John C. Reilly and Salma Hayek, Carmel, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D, the first ever high definition 3-D live performance feature, Bridge To Terabithia, Winged Creatures, Firehouse Dog, RV, Little Manhattan, Zathura, Kicking and Screaming, Howl's Moving Castle and The Polar Express. Josh won Young Artist Awards for "Leading Young Actor" for his roles in Zathura and Bridge to Terebithia.

Amanda Seyfried (M.K.) has established herself as one of Hollywood's most captivating young leading actresses.

Seyfried is best known for her starring role in the Universal Pictures hit film Mamma Mia! Seyfried highlighted her vocal skills as Sophie, the daughter of Donna (Meryl Streep). The film, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, was released in July 2008 and has grossed more than $600 million internationally. Seyfried will next begin production in Seth MacFarlane's upcoming film A Million Ways to Die in the West starring alongside MacFarlane and Charlize Theron.

Seyfried most recently starred in Universal's film adaptation of Les Miserables, in which she plays Cosette. She starred opposite Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. Tom Hooper directed the film, which was released on December 25, 2012 and has grossed over $400 million internationally. Seyfried will next be seen in Lionsgate's The Big Wedding, where she stars opposite Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton. The film will be released on April 26, 2013.

Later this year, Seyfried will star in Millennium/Radius Films' Lovelace, a drama directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. The film tells the true story of Linda Lovelace (Seyfried), the world's first adult film star, who is abused by the industry and by her coercive husband, before fighting back and taking control of her life. Peter Sargsaard and Sharon Stone also star in the film, which will be released in 2013.

In 2011, Seyfried starred opposite Justin Timberlake in New Regency's sci-fi action thriller, In Time, from writer-director Andrew Niccol. The film, distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, revolves around a society in which aging stops at the age of 25 and where time has become the currency. The film was released on October 28, 2011. Seyfried also starred in Warner Bros.' Red Riding Hood. Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way, the film was directed by Catherine Hardwicke.

In 2010, Seyfried starred opposite Channing Tatum in the box office hit, Dear John, the adaptation of the Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) bestseller. In the film, Seyfried plays a young woman who meets and falls in love with a soldier (Channing Tatum) while he's on leave. Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat) directed from a script by Jamie Linden. Dear John grossed more than $100 million worldwide and is the highest opening film to date for Sony Screen Gems.

Also in 2010, Seyfried also starred in the Summit film, Letters to Juliet, in which she plays a young American who travels to Verona, Italy to answer letters people write to the fictional Juliet of Romeo and Juliet fame. The film is directed by Gary Winick (Bride Wars, 13 Going On 30) and also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Gael Garcia Bernal. Seyfried also starred in Chloe, an Atom Egoyan-directed thriller where she shares the screen with Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson. Seyfried plays an escort hired by a successful doctor (Moore) to test her husband's fidelity.

In 2009, Seyfried starred in Jennifer's Body. In the film written by Diablo Cody (Juno), Seyfried plays Needy, the best friend of Jennifer, (Megan Fox) a possessed cheerleader who begins killing boys in a small town.

On the TV front, Seyfried received critical praise for her starring role in HBO's Golden Globe nominated drama, Big Love.

A Pennsylvania native, Seyfried began modeling at the age of 11. She soon turned to acting and landed her first contract role in 2000 as Lucy Montgomery on As the World Turns. In 2002, All My Children signed her to the contract role of Joni Stafford. Her big break came in 2004's Mean Girls, the Lorne Michaels/Tina Fey/Paramount comedy-drama, where she co-starred with Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams. Together they won the Best On-Screen Team Award at the MTV Movie Awards.

In 2005, Seyfried starred in the Sundance Film Festival favorite Nine Lives. Written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, the film also starred Sissy Spacek, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Robin Wright Penn and Dakota Fanning.

In 2006, she appeared in Alpha Dog, directed by Nick Cassavetes and starring Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone, Emile Hirsch and Bruce Willis. Seyfried followed this with American Gun, starring Donald Sutherland, Forest Whitaker and Marcia Gay Harden.

Christoph Waltz (Mandrake) recently won his second Academy Award for his performance in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. His role also garnered Waltz the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2009, he received the Academy, SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Cannes Film Festival awards for his portrayal of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Tarantino'sInglourious Basterds. Recently, Waltz finished production on Terry Gilliam's Zero Theorem with Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton.

Waltz was last seen in Carnage, an adaptation of Yasmina Reza's Tony®-winning play, God of Carnage. Roman Polanski directed the film and Waltz starred opposite Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2011 and opened at the New York Film Festival on September 30, 2011. It was released domestically by Sony Pictures Classics in December 2011.

Waltz was recently seen in The Three Musketeers for director Paul W.S. Anderson and Summit Entertainment. Waltz played Cardinal Richelieu alongside an international cast that included Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Matthew Macfadyen, Mads Mikkelsen and Juno Temple. The film was released on October 14, 2011.

In April 2011, Waltz was seen co-starring inWater for Elephants, the Richard LaGravanese-scripted adaptation of the novel by Sara Gruen. Waltz played the circus owner and ringmaster in the film, opposite Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. Prior to that, Waltz played the villain Chudnofsky in Michel Gondry's The Green Hornet, alongside Seth Rogan and Cameron Diaz.

Waltz's work in European television, film and theatrical productions spans three decades. His motion picture credits include Gun-Shy, the Berlin Film Festival entry Lapislazuli, Dorian, She, Falling Rocks, Ordinary Decent Criminal, Our God's Brother, The Beast, Berlin Blues and Angst. On television, he appeared in the Adolf Grimme Award-winning films Der Tanz mit dem Teufel - Die Entführung des Richard Oetker and Dienstreise - Was für eine Nacht Dienstreise. For his work in Du Bist Nicht Allein - "Die Roy Black Story, Waltz garnered Bavarian and German TV awards and the RTL Golden Lion.

Beyoncé Knowles (Queen Tara) has become one of the most widely recognized and highly respected women in pop culture. The journey to the world stage began as a founding member of Destiny's Child back in her native, Houston, Texas, when Beyoncé was only 9 years old. They became one of the most successful female recording groups of all-time and Beyoncé has become an iconic solo artist, actress, philanthropist and businesswoman.

In 2001, Beyoncé became the first African-American woman and the second woman ever to take home the ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year Award. She made chart history in 2003 when she became the first artist in 20 years and the first female recording artist ever, to simultaneously reach #1 in the U.S and the U.K with both her debut solo album Dangerously In Love and single "Crazy In Love", a feat accomplished by a mere handful of artists -- including the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. Beyoncé toured America for the first time as a solo artist in 2004 in support of her #1 multi-platinum debut solo album, Dangerously In Love, which earned her five Grammy Awards® that year including Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best R&B Song for "Crazy In Love" featuring Jay-Z. With her five-in-one-year Grammy win, Beyoncé tied the record for the most Grammy's to be won in a single year by a female artist.

Following the success of her solo debut, Beyoncé released two consecutive #1 albums, B'DAY in 2006, which produced the hits, "Irreplaceable" and "Beautiful Liar" and I Am... Sasha Fierce in 2008, which was the most-talked about album of 2009, with the video for the track, "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)", becoming the most-watched and most mimicked around the globe.

Beyoncé started the year 2010 with historic wins at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. Coming into the awards ceremony as the most nominated artist of the year with ten nominations, most from her worldwide #1 album, I Am... Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé took home six Grammys, setting a record for the female artist with the most wins in one single year. She has now earned 17 Grammys overall.

Her historic six wins include: Song of the Year "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)", Best Female Pop Vocal Performance "Halo", Best Female R&B Vocal Performance "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)", Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance "At Last", Best R&B Song "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)", Best Contemporary R&B Album I Am... Sasha Fierce. The win for "At Last" honored her work on the Cadillac Records soundtrack for her rendition of the Etta James hit which was seen by a worldwide audience in 2009 on Inauguration night, when she performed for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at their request.

The "I AM... " World Tour in support of the critically acclaimed album opened in Canada in March 2009 and took Beyoncé to over 100 cities around the world. She performed to sold-out crowds on every continent, including her biggest live solo concert audience ever in Sa(.o Paulo, Brazil, where 60,000 fans attended the show on February 6, 2010 at Morumbi Stadium. Billboard Magazine named the "I AM" World Tour the #1 concert attraction of 2009. Billboard also named Beyoncé Woman of the Year in October 2009 and Top Female Artist of the Decade in December 2009.

In the summer or 2011, Beyoncé released her fourth album, the aptly named 4, which debuted at #1. The critically praised album produced the hits "Love On Top", which earned a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance, "Countdown" and the new anthem, "Run The World (Girls)".

The debut television performance of "Run The World (Girls)" on the Billboard Awards in May 2011 became one of the most talked about of the year. On June 26, 2011, two days before the album's release, Beyoncé made her historic debut on The Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, performing for a crowd of 200,000.

In 2012, Beyoncé supported the United Nations in its celebration of World Humanitarian Day and its successful mission to send 1 Billion messages of people doing good all over the world. She performed, "I Was Here", at the United Nations General Assembly for a live video, which was edited with raw footage of world events.

That year she returned to the stage, after giving birth to her daughter, for four sold-out shows during Memorial Weekend at Revel in Atlantic City. She also performed at the newly opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and took home an MTV VMA award for Best Editing for her video, "Countdown".

So far this year, Beyoncé performed at President Obama's second Inauguration; performed at the Super Bowl Halftime show to an audience of 108 million and directed and produced Life Is But a Dream, the documentary feature that aired on HBO, giving the network its biggest audience for a documentary in almost ten years.

Aziz Ansari (Mub) stars as Tom Haverford, the self-serving colleague of Leslie Knope (series star Amy Poehler) in NBC's comedy "Parks and Recreation".

Ansari has quickly established his presence in the comedy world. He is currently starring in a popular television series, has a number of films on deck and recently debuted his first hour-long standup special and album. Ansari hosted the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.

Ansari is also keeping busy in the film world, having starred in blockbuster animated smash Ice Age: Continental Drift, the action comedy 30 Minutes or Less; the Judd Apatow-directed comedyFunny People, where Ansari created the popular character of Raaaaaaaandy, which went on to become a viral hit on FunnyOrDie.com.

Ansari also appeared in Get Him to the Greek alongside Russell Brand, Jonah Hill and Sean 'Diddy' Combs, as a co-worker of Hill's character. He has had roles in the hit comedies I Love You, Man and Observe and Report.

Ansari released an hour-long standup special on Comedy Central titled, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening. The special and subsequent DVD/CD were both extremely successful and the album was a mainstay on iTunes' comedy best-seller list. Ansari has also become a regular on the late night circuit with recent memorable appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Ansari completed a major multi-city standup tour called the Dangerously Delicious Tour. He began performing standup in 2001 while attending NYU and continues to perform at venues all over the world today. In 2005, Rolling Stone named him their choice for Hot Standup on their annual Hot List and he was also awarded the Jury Award for Best Standup at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen in 2006.

Ansari first came to audiences' attention on MTV's hit sketch comedy series Human Giant. The series is based around short films starring Ansari, along with Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer. Many of their sketches have become Internet sensations and have popularized the trio with young people all across the U.S. Ansari also had a very memorable guest-starring role on HBO's Flight of the Conchords, in which he portrayed a racist fruit vendor and he was seen in a multi-episode arc on Scrubs.

Chris O'dowd (Grub) grew up in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland and studied politics and sociology in Dublin, before deciding to train as an actor.

After graduating from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, O'Dowd's first real break was playing comedian Tommy O'Dwyer in the 2005 feature Festival, for which he won a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor in a Scottish Film. However, the role that really cemented his status as a bona fide star was as the grumpy geek, Roy "have you tried turning it off and on again" Trenneman on Channel 4 Television's The IT Crowd. Since the show first debuted in 2006, it has been seen by millions of people and has turned Roy into a cult hero.

The year 2011 was a standout year for O'Dowd, who starred in the critically acclaimed box-office hit Bridesmaids and received a BAFTA Rising Star Award nomination. This accolade recognized the rapid development of his acting career.

This year is set to be O'Dowd's biggest to date. The summer saw him reunited with his Bridesmaids co-star, Kristen Wiig, in Friends With Kids, which also starred Megan Fox and Jon Hamm. O'Dowd can currently be seen starring in the musical drama The Sapphires, which is set in 1968 and is based on the real-life story of a group of aboriginal sisters and cousins, who formed a soul group and performed for the U.S. troops in Vietnam. O'Dowd is currently filming the second season of Moone Boy, a television series that he wrote and directed for Sky Television. Based on his childhood and filmed in his hometown of Boyle, season one of Moone Boy aired on Sky in September. October saw the release of the comedy 3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom, in which O'Dowd starred alongside Sam Anderson and Lizzy Caplan. In December came the Judd Apatow comedy This is 40.

In 2013, O'Dowd will star alongside Nick Frost and Rashida Jones in the comedy Cuban Fury.

After Festival and cameos in Vera Drake and How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, O'Dowd played Simon in Richard Curtis' Pirate Radio and starred opposite Jack Black as the fabulous baddie, Edward, in Gulliver's Travels. The following year, he appeared in Jay Roach's comedy Dinner for Schmucks, starring Steve Carell.

Since The IT Crowd, O'Dowd as rarely been seen far from our television screens. His comedic talents were on display in BBC2's Roman's Empire and ITV's FM. He also demonstrated his ability as a serious actor in the award-winning drama The Year London Blew Up: 1974. More recently, he earned an Irish Film and Television Award nomination for Best Actor-Television for his acclaimed role as egotistical English perfume magnate, William Rackham, in the BBC's The Crimson Petal and the White.

In 2012, O'Dowd starred as Thomas-John in the hit HBO comedy series Girls, alongside Lena Dunham, Adam Driver and Allison Williams.

Pitbull (Bufo) has risen to become a global superstar as both a recording and performing artist. The Miami native recently added to a long and growing list of hits with his first #1 hit, "Give Me Everything". At the same time, his world tour sold out concerts in Latin America, Canada and Europe, before bringing the party to the United States, Japan and Australia. Pitbull's new single, "Feel This Moment" featuring Christina Aguilera is a worldwide smash and "Don't Stop The Party" was another global radio and video hit that appears on his new album, Global Warming.

The album is the highly-anticipated follow-up to Planet Pit, which earned critical acclaim and enjoyed massive commercial success with sales of more than 1.7 million albums and 19 million singles. "Don't Stop the Party" and "Feel This Moment" come on the heels of Pitbull's two-million-selling single, "Back In Time", the chart-topping anthem from the action-adventure-comedy Men In Black 3.

To complement his global success as an artist, Pitbull is also a burgeoning business entrepreneur with his own line of premium, low-calorie vodka, Voli; an equity partner in the iconic food franchise that shares his Miami roots, The New Miami Subs Grill; RockDoc, a revolutionary portable speaker line; and a partnership with Sheets, the dissolving energy strip. Pitbull has inked major sponsorship deals with blue-chip brands like Bud Light, Dr Pepper, Pepsi (Latin America) and Kodak.

Jason Sudeikis (Bomba) is in his eighth season as a cast member on NBC's venerable Saturday Night Live. Sudeikis worked for two years as a writer on the show before becoming a series regular in 2005 and has won over audiences with his impersonations of Vice President Joe Biden, American Idol winner Taylor Hicks and the recurring hip-hop dancer character in the "What Up with That" sketch.

Sudeikis starred in the feature ensemble comedyHorrible Bosses, alongside Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston; the Farrelly Brothers comedy Hall Pass, with Owen Wilson, Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer; and in the hit HBO comedy series Eastbound and Down.

He will star with Charlie Day in One Night on the Hudson, a TJ Fixman-scripted comedy that will be directed by Seth Gordon. This project re-teams Sudeikis, Day and Gordon from Horrible Bosses. Among his other upcoming projects are the feature films We're the Millers, which re-teams him with Jennifer Aniston; Adam Shankman's drama This is Where I Leave You; and the comedy Relanxious.

Sudeikis' previous film credits include The Bounty Hunter, in which he starred alongside Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler; Going the Distance, opposite Drew Barrymore, Justin Long and Charlie Day; What Happens in Vegas, with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher; and A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, co-directed and co-written by Pete Huyck and Alex Gregory; as well as roles in The Fan, Watching the Detectives, Bill, Semi-Pro and The Rocker.

Sudeikis received rave reviews for his arc on NBC's Emmy® Award- winning series 30 Rock, appearing as Tina Fey's charmingly funny love interest, Floyd. He can also be heard as the voices of two principal characters on Fox's hit animated comedy series The Cleveland Show, created by Seth MacFarlane and guest-starred on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as the long-forgotten fourth member of the Paddy's gang, Schmitty.

Born in Fairfax Virginia, Sudeikis grew up in Overland Park, Kansas. Attending junior college on a basketball scholarship, he was a class clown and admitted procrastinator who frequently dribbled himself in and out of trouble. He began his path in show business with classes at the ComedySportz Theater (now Comedy City) in Kansas City, before leaving basketball and college for Chicago, where he performed with The Second City National Touring Company, Improv Olympic, The Annoyance Theater and Boom Chicago in Amsterdam. Moving to Nevada, he was a founding member of The Second City Las Vegas. In 2003, Sudeikis was encouraged by his uncle, George Wendt, to send a tape to the producers of SNL. He started on the show as a staff writer and, after two years and many auditions, found himself on camera and never looked back.

Steven Tyler (Nim Galuu), is the iconic songwriter and voice of Aerosmith, America's greatest rock 'n' roll band. Tyler is considered one of music's most recognizable and dynamic frontmen and has been cited by Rolling Stone as "one of the greatest singers of all time". Further solidifying their place in history, Tyler and Aerosmith have sold more than 150 million records worldwide, won numerous prestigious awards (including multiple Grammys, American Music Awards®, Billboard awards and MTV awards) and were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2013 Steven will be awarded with the Founder's Award at the ASCAP Pop Awards as well as be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Last year, Aerosmith unleashed its acclaimed 15th studio album, Music From Another Dimension and triumphed with two North American legs of the Global Warming Tour. In 2013 Aerosmith has plans to take their Global Warming Tour worldwide.

The ultimate "brand man", Tyler has built a name for himself outside of his career in music. Since 2007, Tyler has been hard at work with inventor and engineer Mark Dirico developing and designing a hip brand of motorcycles called Dirico Motorcycles.

In December 2010, he performed for President Obama and the First Lady in a special tribute to Sir Paul McCartney at the Kennedy Center Honors. Just a month later, Tyler joined Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest as a judge on American Idol, the highest rated television show in American history. In May 2011, Tyler released his memoir entitled Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? (Ecco/Harper Collins) which debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Simultaneous with the book's release, Tyler debuted his first ever solo single, "(It) Feels So Good" (featuring Nicole Scherzinger), which broke into the Billboard Hot 100, the highest charting song by an Aerosmith member since 2001's "Jaded".

On the health and wellness front, when the Demon of Screamin' injured his vocal cords in 2006, he turned to the world-renowned surgeon Dr. Stephen M. Zeitels. Tyler now sits on the Advisory Board of the Voice Health Institute alongside Julie Andrews, Joe Buck, Roger Daltrey, Christina Perri, Lionel Richie, Paul Stanley and Keith Urban.

Infamous for his outrageous style and fashion savoir faire, Tyler was also the inspiration and design consultant for the Andrew Charles rocker chic fashion line from Tommy Hilfiger's Star Brands which featured a whole line of rock n' roll clothing in 2012. Furthering his presence in the fashion world, Tyler has teamed up with Modo Eyewear for his own featured line of reading and sunglasses.

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