One of the most compelling and conflicted characters in Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters comes to the big screen as Oscar® winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. While at first it seems to be a radical success, a darkness inside him is unleashed. Will good override evil - or will Morbius succumb to his mysterious new urges?
Columbia Pictures presents in association with MARVEL, an Avi Arad / Matt Tolmach production, Morbius. Starring Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, and Tyrese Gibson. Directed by Daniel Espinosa. Produced by Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach, and Lucas Foster. Screen Story and Screenplay by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless. Based on the MARVEL Comics. Executive Producers are Louise Rosner and Emma Ludbrook. Director of Photography is Oliver Wood. Production Designer is Stefania Cella. Editor is Pietro Scalia, ACE. Costume Designer is Cindy Evans. Music by Jon Ekstrand.
"I'm attracted to roles where there's an opportunity to transform - physical transformation, but also mental, emotional, any and all," says Jared Leto, who is indeed renowned for his transformations. From his Academy Award®-winning performance as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Clubto his portrayal of Paolo Gucci in House of Gucci, Leto disappears into his roles, bringing characters to life in ways that can be moving, or terrifying, or enigmatic, but always unforgettable.
In his new film Morbius, based on the Marvel antihero, Leto brings all of these together for his performance as Dr. Michael Morbius, a brilliant doctor with a rare and fatal blood disease, determined to find the cure. Morbius's genius finds a way not only to cure the illness but to give him unimaginable strength and powers, but at a terrible cost: an uncontrollable thirst for human blood.
"I played Dr. Michael Morbius from his most frail, to his most powerful, to his most monstrous," Leto continues. "There's a lot of range in there, so that was really fun to tackle. Not only does the movie have action, stunts, and fighting, but the role itself was taxing. Whenever he is fighting the affliction, he is caught in a crossroads between different parts of the character. It's like a withdrawal process, a full body experience."
"Jared Leto was the only actor that could really play the part of Morbius. That wasn't really a choice - it was predestination," says Daniel Espinosa, who directs the film.
"Michael Morbius goes through several transformations in this movie," says producer Lucas Foster. "He starts off as someone who has little hope of survival. Over the course of his experiments and pushing the boundaries, making decisions that are on the edge of medical ethics, he does fix what he set out to fix - in fact, not only does he cure his disease, the treatment also brings him to the peak of physical health. But it also results in a transformation that he didn't intend - he becomes a monster, having abilities and cravings that are impossible to control."
"Morbius is searching for goodness - the cure for a disease. He's going to find it, disregarding the cost on himself or on society," adds Espinosa. "And in his search for goodness, he transforms into something he detests. He has to accept the ugliness he has within him, and that there's something beautiful about it. It will be his strength, what makes him unique."
Morbius's increasingly desperate research leads him to combine human DNA with that of the vampire bat - the only mammal that survives solely on blood - which has evolved to develop anticoagulants. a genetic mutation that Morbius is convinced will cure him and others with his disease. Not only does the treatment cure him, but gives him superhuman strength, the agility of an Olympic athlete, even the echolocation powers of the bat - to "see" objects in space by harnessing the sounds around him. But the cure also transforms Morbius into a (literally) bloodthirsty monster - a hideous creature with cravings that he is only somewhat able to control.
"It's a fearsome creature," says Foster. "It has all kinds of urges that are not human urges and Dr. Morbius has to deal with the consequences of the monster coming out."
According to Espinosa - who bills himself as Sweden's second-biggest comic book fan - it's the character's inner humanity, his duality between virtuous man and brutal creature, that makes him so compelling. "Michael Morbius is one of the most altruistic characters of the Marvel Universe," he says. "He's one of the few that really believes in good. This good man has a horrible disease, and in his trials to save himself and the people that he cares for, he turns into a monster."
In most superhero movies, there's a classic sequence as the hero discovers his or her newfound powers. Not so for Michael Morbius. "When Morbius discovers his inner beast, he becomes afraid of it - and because he's afraid, he's also afraid of his powers. He's afraid that they will take over and change him, so he's constantly resisting them," says Espinosa. "To become the hero, he has to accept his fate: Morbius's journey is to accept that he will still remain the person that he is, but he has to harness these powers."
As a man who has spent countless hours reading and thinking about comic books, Espinosa says that it isn't so surprising that Morbius's duality has earned him a following. "Most great heroes are antiheroes," he says. "Most of us are resistant to accept that we are the chosen one, and Morbius is the same. The most interesting characters in the Marvel universe have always been those that have had one foot on each side: Magneto, Rogue, Wolverine, in his own way, Venom. All of these characters are the ones that are fundamentally the most fascinating for us as moviegoers and comic book readers."
Leto says that ultimately, it will be Morbius's true inner self that will determine his fate. "At the end of the day, he's a very good person," he says. "He's using his talent, his skills, his education, his brains, in search of noble pursuits. He's not without his faults - he's breaking some rules, but he's doing it to find the cure and help people like himself."
Leto is famously selective about the parts he chooses to play. Espinosa says that he has to be, because his preparation for each role is so intense.
"Jared is a beautiful actor to work with - he comes to set fully prepared, completely immersed in his character," says the director. "He's become known for his approach to his characters, but it was truly surprising to see how much emotionality he could wrest out of Dr. Michael Morbius. He has a strong dedication, beginning to end, and more than just an actor. He's a colleague, a partner."
"We were so thrilled to be in Jared's presence as he performed his craft," says Foster. "He's really committed and works extremely hard. It was interesting to watch him develop the character - he prepares and spends a lot of time thinking through how this character got to this place, workshopping the words that we had crafted, developing his thoughts on the look of the character and how the character would move and pass through the world, first as a sick character, and later as a character who had gotten a sudden second chance at life. He breaks that down into small increments and watch those evolve. It's fascinating."
"I was excited about taking on the challenge of putting a character on screen that had never been on screen before," says Leto. "It gets harder and harder to find, and that was unique about this - a Marvel character that had never been portrayed outside of a couple of episodes of a Spider-Man cartoon."
Leto was drawn to the character by the idea that the audience would discover the character as he transforms, and by the challenge of portraying those unusual transformations. "I liked that he had this lofty goal while being frail. But then, he finds the cure and becomes incredibly powerful and strong - he succeeds in that mission only to have everything go wrong," he says. "There's a lot to discover about this character. It was fun to explore his increased strength and speed. And he can use echolocation - how to do you translate that into a performance, the ability to see using your sense of hearing?"
Morbius's lifelong best friend is Milo - a friendship that runs so deep that Morbius gave him his name. Born with the name Lucien and the same blood disease that Morbius has, the young Morbius renamed the boy Milo when they met as children. Their shared affliction led to a lifelong bond as brothers.
The scion of a very, very, very rich family, Milo has grown into a man determined to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life while he can - mostly by spending his money to live the high life in New York. "He's a bon vivant, bigger than life, a delight," says Foster. "He's a lot of fun - even when he's sick, he's still trying to live life to its fullest, squeeze every moment he can every enjoyment possible out of his last time on earth."
"Michael has always been driven by science. Milo has always been driven by sensation and art," says Matt Smith, who plays the role. "Where Michael was studying atomic structure and the elements of life, Milo was drinking the finest whisky, watching Bergman films, and eating at the Ivy. He's all about living in the moment."
When Morbius conducts his dangerous experiments, it is through the Milo's largesse. When he discovers the cure/curse, Morbius's natural reaction is to shield his dying friend - a reaction Milo does not understand or appreciate. Milo steals the serum, transforming himself into the same monster that Morbius is.
But where Morbius is afraid of his powers, Milo embraces them. "They both get the same power - one goes one way, and one goes the other way," says Smith. "For one of the first times in his life, Milo feels alive and free, physically electric. You're given the keys to the kingdom - how do you react? Particularly for a person who's suffered so much and now has powers."
Espinosa says that when Morbius and Milo's inner beasts are unleashed, it's a revelation of who they really are - and the contrast between them tears them apart. "Milo decides to take revenge on everybody that has always haunted him," says the director. "He explores his powers with a kind of animal power - he never becomes as refined as Morbius. Morbius has a much more meditative perception of his powers - he will truly understand what he can do, while Milo just sees what's right in front of him."
"In some ways, Morbius wishes he could be more like Milo, living life to the fullest, and Milo wishes he could be more like Morbius, with higher goals and an ethical standard. But they are who they are. They've been that way from childhood," Foster continues. "Everybody loves Milo because Milo is the person we all want to be. Because of Morbius's experiments, he gets a second chance at life, and he takes great advantage of that - more so than Morbius, in many ways. He ends up being a cautionary tale - he's only lived at the extremes. He can't find a middle course and doesn't want to. He's been held in a cage for much of his life, and after his coming out party, he's never going back to the way he was."
"The lust for more blood, for more feeling, more power - Milo doesn't shy away from it," says Smith. "He doesn't try to stop. He's not trying to manage his addiction in the way that Michael is. The idea that Michael is trying to deny his instincts as this creature is just beguiling to Milo. Why? We've spent all our lives hobbling around, feeling second-best. And suddenly we feel like gods. And you're gonna throw it away because that's the good thing to do?"
Espinosa says that Smith, who is best known for his roles on Doctor Who and on "The Crown" as Prince Philip, embraced his chance to let out his own inner baddie. "He's a beautiful actor - a combination of the classic English elegance with a bit of Iggy Pop attitude," says the director. "He's a classically trained actor, but to be a real star, you have to have a bit of punk in you. Matt has that, a kind of edgy sexiness. Milo has transformed from a sweet boy to a dying young man who has lived oppressed by the people around him his whole life - and oppression turns to anger, anger turns to hate, and you know the rest."
"Daniel encouraged me to be quite bold as an actor," says Smith. "When you look at the great villains, they're allowed to be quite loud as personalities. So I tried to push Milo in that direction. I gave him a sort of illusionist quality - a physical illusionist, a sense of opulence in his clothing. Playing the bad guy is a dream come true - I'm interested in the bad guys where, at the end of the film, you go, 'I kind of like him.' Don't judge him too harshly. 'Fair enough, mate. You've had a pretty grim life up to now. You enjoy eating the policeman.'"
Playing Martine Bancroft, a brilliant doctor in her own right who works with Dr. Morbius to find a cure, is actress Adria Arjona. For Arjona, the appeal of the part was a character that balances authority and vulnerability in a very human way. "When Martine speaks, people listen. It's nice to see that in a female character. It's not just about being pretty or strength or toughness. It's that she's the smart one in the room," she says. "At the same time, she's very curious and has a big heart - her motivation is always to help others, and she's the same way with Morbius. She's constantly taking care of him in a different way than he takes care of her. She learns so much from him, but Morbius's rock is Martine."
To portray a character who can exhibit all of that, Arjona found inspiration in an unlikely source: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "When I started playing this role, I thought, 'I'm playing with such amazing actors, but I'm not like Martine - I'm goofy and clumsy and Martine is very grounded and secure in herself - when she speaks, it's like bullets coming out of her mouth.' So I looked for inspirations," she explains. "I remember seeing an interview with AOC and thinking, everything about her is Martine. She's youthful, she's fun, she cares about the way she looks, but she cares even more about what goes into her brain. She's passionate; when she speaks, you can tell she's done her research; she's going to be listened to, no matter who is in front of her. So she was my starting point, a nice way to start my engines."
For Arjona, that relationship between Martine and Morbius - and the fact that it could grow beyond the strictly professional - is no surprise. "It's a beautiful relationship," she says. "It starts with her being almost in love with his brain, how it works, everything he stands for. All he really wants to do is save other people; he's selfless, and I think Martine admires that from a scientist. It starts as mutual respect and from spending so much time together, and chemistry does arise, but the elephant in the room is Morbius's illness - he could go at any moment. They're afraid to lose each other, so they cannot get involved in a relationship."
To play Dr. Nicholas, the doctor who takes in both Milo and Morbius as children to treat their disease - and who becomes a lifelong mentor, friend, and moral bellwether for both - is the veteran actor Jared Harris. It's a reunion of sorts - after playing George VI, father-in-law to Matt Smith's Prince Philip, in "The Crown," Harris again plays a father figure to a Smith character in Morbius. "Dr. Nicholas takes in young Milo and young Michael - they have a congenital blood-borne disease that is slowly killing them," Harris explains. "It's racking away their body. He runs the facility where we look after people who have these illnesses, when there is little hope of a cure."
Taking on his first comic book movie role was the fulfillment of preparation since childhood, according to Harris. "I'm a big comic book fan. I had stacks and stacks of comic books when I was a kid, and I've gone to all the movies," he says. "When I was a kid growing up, my father had a house in the Bahamas and there was no television - no VHS, no DVDs. So we used to read comics to entertain ourselves when the adults got fed up with us. I just read them all - I mean, everything. I don't think there's a single comic I didn't read. Deathlok. Vampirella. Swamp Thing. Archie. Richie Rich. The usual ones: Batman, Superman, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Daredevil, just everything we could get our hands on."
Rounding out the cast as two government agents charged with investigating the strange activity are FBI Agents Simon Stroud and Alberto Ramirez, played by Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal. Assigned to the Bureau's Department of Enhanced Individuals, Stroud and Rodriguez keep tabs on the people with powers who may or may not be up to no good.
"We handle the unusual, bizarre, extra-special cases. And Dr. Morbius falls into that category," says Madrigal.
"When we come in, maybe there's aliens, or vampires - there's bad guys, and we are going to get to the bottom of who's who and who's doing what," says Gibson.
"It's a complementary relationship," says Madrigal. "He's a big tough guy who had an unfortunate situation in Afghanistan. Rodriguez is badass, too, but in his own way; he's more like Columbo - he knows a lot more than he lets on."
For Espinosa, having Arjona and Madrigal in key parts of a film he was directing caused a moment of reflection - a kind of true diversity that the world needs to see more of. "Adria, Al, and I are all Latinos," he says. "I remember that we did one scene together, and when it was done, I said it was very special - the director was Latino, the two actors were Latino, but we were not making 'a Latino movie.' We were just there because we were good enough to direct, good enough to act."
Of course, there are other faces and references that audiences will recognize from the wider world of Marvel movies. "One of the great things about being part of the larger universe is you get to plant Easter eggs - you get to pull on some other characters to jump in and join your party and surprise people," says Leto. "I couldn't think of someone I'd rather work with than Michael Keaton - he's one of my favorites."
When Morbius fuses his DNA with that of a vampire bat, he gains superhuman powers - but also transforms into a hideous monster. Not only does he have increased strength and agility, but also the power to use echolocation - bats' ability to "see" in the dark by relying on the sound waves around them. However, he also develops a bat's snub nose, sunken cheeks, and a mouth full of razor-sharp fangs.
All of these challenges - the look of the creature and the expression of his powers - would be in the hands of visual effects supervisor Matthew E. Butler. Working with Espinosa, Butler would create a cinematic language that would bring the audience into Morbius' sensory perceptions. It was a challenge that Butler was uniquely suited to meet. "When Daniel first came over to see us, one of the things he was particularly interested in doing is visualising some of Morbius's unusual special powers, one of which is his ability to visualize wind vectors to echolocate, like a bat would," says Butler. "Since my previous background was in aerospace and I've focused on computational fluid mixes and visualising the flow of fluid, that particularly appealed to me. It's something I could see a way to visualize in a cool, non-gratuitous fashion. We found a visually exciting way to show his ability, the same as his ability to be hypersensitive to wind vectors."
For the character himself, Leto and Espinosa agreed that the look would come from visual effects, rather than prosthetics and makeup. "When you put a character on the screen for the first time, you have a big opportunity to create something. I was adamant from the beginning that we use technology to enhance and help with the transformation, especially of Morbius himself, because I thought that that's where we would have fewest limitations," says Leto. "There's limitless potential using some of these new technologies, so it's interesting to be part of that and to push the envelope."
"Visual effects is never a single answer to anything - we try to use the right tool for the job, and each job is slightly different," says Butler, who, as part of the team at Digital Domain that created the visual effects for Avengers: Endgame, is well-versed in bringing digital Marvel characters to full life. "On Morbius, the vampires perform, deliver dialogue and expression, and they need to look and feel and smell like that the actor. Jared Leto and Matt Smith need to come through in their vampiric forms. We tried to keep as many of his features as we could, so you could look at this creature and think, yeah, that's Jared - yet we depart from a good-looking man to make this horrific character."
The solution would also depend on the needs of the film's storytelling. "Morbius can 'bloom' from his human version into the vampiric version and back again, so he's not continually in that phase. He can go in and out - typically through anger," Butler explains. "He needed to be able to morph into different expressions.
"One solution is to film them as they are and manipulate the face," Butler continues. "That can work, but at times, we depart quite massively, and we still need to capture all the idiosyncrasies, the subtleties, the familiar telltales of who that person is and their characteristics, even though the creature is quite different in geometry. We decided that the actors would perform on stage and we would recapture that performance with a marked-up array of dots on their faces and helmet cameras that can capture all of those subtleties. The software can translate that performance into the performance of a creature that is completely different. That's something we achieved quite well with Thanos."
Stunt coordinator Gary Powell was charged with creating the action of Morbius. These included creating the ways that he would fight - considering that he had never had the strength to train in that way before gaining his powers.
"I knew the Morbius character because I actually used to read all the Spider-Man comics," says Powell. "It's a darker world; he's an antihero. A bit darker than we're used to in the superhero world."
So the first place Powell looked for inspiration was those comic books. "The stunts are based on Morbius and what he can do. So we looked at the comics, his physical strengths, to make sure we were paying homage to him correctly," Powell explains. "When you read the comics, he is very strong - maybe stronger than Spider-Man. Beyond that, we wanted to make it as believable as possible - even though we're in a superhuman universe, we want the audience to believe it."
One of those ways is by not making Morbius a skilled fighter - at least, not at first. "When Morbius first gets his powers, he's very uncontrolled. He's like a wild animal, taking people out and acting out of control," says Powell. "As he goes through the film, he learns to control the rage and uses it to his advantage. He has claws for slashing, like an animal - so he uses that, and less straightened-up fistfighting."
Morbius's experimentations with his powers reveal an incredible agility. For these scenes, Powell called on Greg Townley, one of the world's great tumblers, to be Morbius's double. "It's phenomenal what he can do in the air," says Powell, who further explains that the design of those particular stunts were influenced by conversations with Leto. "We had an early conversation with Jared where he shared what he explained how he would move as the character, and that gave us a few things to research. We looked at bats, how they attack each other."
Moviegoers of a certain age may remember the New York of the 1980s - at least as it was popularly conceived in the comic books. Gritty, mean, dark - this was how the city showed up in many comic books that Espinosa read during the period, and this was what Espinosa sought to call back. "It was a bit seedier - I was inspired by those pictures and do something that felt different," he says. "We could do our own New York, just like the artists did, like John Romita, Jr. did when he drew his first New York landscape."
"We didn't want to put Morbius in 'Fifth Avenue' New York," says production designer Stefania Cella. "He's on the periphery of it - the alley and side street - but not a part of it. That gave us the freedom to push it a bit in the design - not specifically historical of what New York looks like. We could ground the film with the language of the streets, the cars and license plates and signage, and then we could take license with the colors and architecture."
"Stefania has done Paolo Sorrentino's movies, but also modern cult classics, like Black Mass and White Boy Rick," says Espinosa, on his decision to bring her on board to oversee the film's look. "Stefania has a very unique visuality - she brings an almost European touch to the production design."
"It was fun to play in a world where there's so much mythology, but also to have the freedom because we're creating the first film with this character," says Cella. "You can take the elements but have license to play with them."
Cella says that the film's design goes through a similar progression - a similar transformation - that Morbius himself does as the film progresses. "Because this is an introduction to Morbius, a new character, we wanted to tell the story of the character through the sets - how he goes from being a kid to a Nobel laureate," she says. "We start in Greece, which is sunny, happy, beautiful, and romantic. And then we get into the lab - white and sterile. And then as Morbius transforms, so does the look of the film - it gets grittier. Nights, alleys, darker locations."
A good example is the lab on the container ship Morbius builds to conduct his ethically dubious, not-strictly-legal experiments. "In the Horizon lab, you can find a path were he studies - his books, his research, but also small details, like toys he brought when he came to New York," says Cella. "You can imagine he might live there, so there's a couch that he may or may not sleep on. He's a timeless character, so we gave his lab a marriage of technology and a chalkboard. All of the sets have this kind of depth, to give the characters layers."
To create the set, Cella was inspired by the real spaces on real ships. "We filmed some shots on a real boat - corridors and stairs and passages of the chase," she notes. For the lab itself, "we took over a factory and brought in elements of a real ship - red railing, round windows, pipes."
Contrast that with Milo's apartment and what it says about his character. "Milo is an extravagantly rich New Yorker. We wanted to give him the stereotypical Upper East Side brownstone, and did a lot of research into the foyer, the stairs, the big living room, windows on the park, the art collection," says Cella. "It's an expression of both a person living in the moment and someone who wants to live forever. If the disease takes him, he'll have lived life to the fullest - and this place will outlive him as a monument to him."
The Morbius production was based in the UK at Pinewood Studios. This was also the location of the largest and most iconic set build of the project: Dr. Michael Morbius' Horizon Lab, complete with a floor-to-ceiling cylindrical bat cage. Other sets were constructed at Fountain Studios in Wembley.
Doubling for exterior shots of New York was the city of Manchester, where 19th-century red brick buildings and warehouses provided a remarkable stand-in. A disused section of London's Charing Cross Station was dressed to serve as the New York subway tunnels where Milo goes on a killing spree and is confronted by Morbius.
The container ship sequence was shot over six days and three different locations, including Science Park, Dagenham, which became the ship's lab; the Old Horlicks building in Slough, which became the backdrop for the ship's corridors; and, for the exterior deck, the HMS Belfast, situated on the Thames.
The Science Park at Dagenham is a huge site. The former ICI chemicals headquarters, in 2000 it was transformed it into a science and technical park. Once home to over 170 businesses employing nearly 2,000 skilled technicians, it is now used for filming.
The Old Horlicks Factory is an iconic chocolate factory building in Slough, West London.
The HMS Belfast is permanently moored as a museum ship, situated on the river Thames. Following the ship's launch in 1938, it saw major action in World War II and the Korean War before entering the reserve in 1963.
Milo's extravagant brownstone were shot in a house belonging to Whitehall Court in Westminster. This estate has featured in a multitude of film productions, including The Elephant Man, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Highlander, The Wings of a Dove, Dirty Pretty Things, The Constant Gardener, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and Edge of Tomorrow, among others.
Jared Leto (Michael Morbius) is an actor, musician, director and entrepreneur. His two decades of work as an actor have encompassed a host of intense and transformative performances. Leto's performance as AIDS patient Rayon in Jean-Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyers Club, opposite Matthew McConaughey, earned him Best Supporting Actor honors from several critics' organisations. He was named best supporting actor by the New York Film Critics Association, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and Broadcast Film Critics Association. He gained his first Academy Award®, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for the role, all of which he won.
Leto is currently captivating fans and critics alike with his transformational performance in Ridley Scott's House of Gucci, starring alongside Lady Gaga, Adam Driver and Al Pacino. He will next star alongside Anne Hathaway in WeCrashed, a limited series for Apple TV+ that depicts the rise and fall of WeWork; Leto also executive produces the project.
His performance in John Lee Hancock's film, The Little Things earned him nominations for his outstanding performance in a supporting role from both the Screen Actors Guild and the HFPA Golden Globes.
Leto's other performances have included his portrayals in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, alongside Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans; Steve James' Prefontaine, as real-life athlete Steve Prefontaine; David Fincher's Fight Club, with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, and Panic Room, with Jodie Foster and Forest Whitaker; Mary Harron's American Psycho, opposite Christian Bale; Andrew Niccol's Lord of War, alongside Nicolas Cage and Ethan Hawke; Oliver Stone's Alexander, opposite Colin Farrell; Todd Robinson's Lonely Hearts, alongside Salma Hayek; James Mangold's Girl, Interrupted, with Winona Ryder and Academy Award® winner Angelina Jolie; Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line; Jaco Van Dormael's Mr. Nobody, opposite Sarah Polley, Rhys Ifans, and Diane Kruger; Warner Bros.' action film Suicide Squad alongside Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Cara Delevigne, and Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling.
Leto was honored with a Gotham Independent Film Award for his documentary feature Artifact, which he produced with Emma Ludbrook; Artifact was voted the Gotham's Audience Award. The movie also won the People's Choice award, for documentaries, at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. After the success of Artifact, Leto directed another documentary, A Day in The Life of America. He set up crews in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to capture a day in the life of the country. Enlisting the help of the public, Leto created an expansive portrait of the USA over a 24-hour time frame. The documentary premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
Leto has also directed several award-winning music videos for the multi-platinum-selling rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars. He is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for the band, which comprises him and his brother Shannon Leto.
Thirty Seconds to Mars has released five studio records, including 2018's America, and currently working on their sixth album. Among their radio hits have been the songs "Walk on Water", "This Is War", "Kings and Queens", and "The Kill". The band has circled the globe in sold-out shows, playing over 300 shows in nearly 60 countries on six continents to 3 million people, thereby breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest-ever concert tour by a rock band. Thirty Seconds to Mars has sold over 10 million albums worldwide and their music videos have received more than 350 million views on YouTube. The group has received numerous awards worldwide, including over a dozen MTV Awards; a Billboard Music Award; and honors from NME, Kerrang! and Fuse.
Matt Smith (Milo) is one of the UK's most dynamic and talented actors working today. He is best known for his unique portrayal of The Doctor in the seminal series Doctor Who, a performance which garnered him critical acclaim and a BAFTA nomination.
Smith can currently be seen in Edgar Wright's psychological thriller Last Night in Soho opposite Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, and the late Diana Rigg. Also on the horizon is John Michael McDonagh's The Forgiven, in which Smith stars alongside Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain. He will take on the central character of Prince Daemon Targaryen in the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon. He will also lend his voice to the comedy animation Superworm.
The end of 2019 saw Smith return to the stage in Matthew Warchus' adaptation of Duncan Macmillan's distinctive love story Lungs at The Old Vic, reuniting with Claire Foy. He also appeared alongside Keira Knightley in real-life spy thriller Official Secrets from Mark Gordon and eOne. Further demonstrating his versatility, Smith was seen as Charles Manson in the independent crime drama Charlie Says with Mary Harron (American Psycho) directing. Following this, Smith appeared in Remi Weekes' horror film His House, where he starred as a landlord struggling with his haunted, supernatural past.
Summer 2018 saw Smith in the Screen Gems film Patient Zero directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky and co-starring Natalie Dormer, Clive Standen, and Stanley Tucci. Smith also took the lead in biopic Mapplethorpe opposite Girls' Zosia Mamet. Smith was seen returning as Prince Philip in series two of The Crown, the hugely popular Netflix series about Britain's royal family, starring alongside Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret.
Prior to this, Smith returned to the Royal Court - the first time since 2007 - when he starred in Polly Stenham's "That Face." Smith starred in the leading role in Anthony Neilson's play "Unreachable." In February 2016, Smith became Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, directed by Burr Steers and co-starring Lily James, Lena Headey, and Douglas Booth.
Earlier in 2015, Smith appeared in Lost River, Ryan Gosling's directorial debut. The film was selected to go to Cannes and featured in the Un Certain Regard category. The tail end of 2013 and then 2014 saw Smith complete a run in the highly acclaimed musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" at the Almeida Theatre.
Smith made his theatrical debut at the Royal Court Theatre in "Fresh Kills" directed by Wilson Milam, who also directed Smith in the West End production of "Swimming with Sharks" opposite Christian Slater. Smith's other theatre credits include "On the Shore of the Wide World," "Burn," "Citizenship," "Chatroom," and "The History Boys," all at the National Theatre.
In 2011, Smith claimed the protagonist role of Christopher Isherwood in (BBC) television film "Christopher and His Kind." Smith also starred as the lead male Thomas alongside Eva Green in Benedek Fliegauf's 2010 film Womb. Smith performed alongside Jim Broadbent and Timothy Spall in Jimmy McGovern's critically acclaimed BBC drama The Street. He also starred in BBC2's drama Party Animals and then starred in the role of Olympian Bert Bushnell in the BBC drama Bert & Dickie.
As well as acting, Smith directed Cargese, a short film for Sky Arts series Playhouse Presents written by playwright Simon Stephens.
Adria Arjona (Martine) is one of Hollywood's most promising rising talents. Arjona recently wrapped production on the highly anticipated Father of the Bride remake from Warner Bros. and Plan B. Arjona stars opposite Andy Garcia, playing his daughter and the bride-to-be in the upcoming reboot. The film will tell the story of a father coming to grips with his daughter's upcoming wedding through the prism of multiple relationships within a big, sprawling Cuban-American family.
Arjona will make her Disney+'s debut in the highly-anticipated Andor in 2022. The project is the prequel series to Star Wars: Rogue One. Arjona stars opposite Diego Luna in the series, which focuses on Rebel agent Andor prior to the events of Rogue One in the early days of the Rebellion against the Empire.
Arjona is currently in production on Los Frikis, which follows a true story about teenagers who inject themselves with HIV in order to escape the oppression of Cuba. Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz co-wrote and are directing the film. Arjona is both starring and executive producing the title.
This past summer, Arjona appeared in Netflix's film Sweet Girl with Jason Momoa and Marisa Tomei. The film follows a devasted husband who vows to bring justice to the people responsible for his wife's (Arjona) death while protecting the only family he has left, his daughter. The film was released on the streaming platform on August 20, 2021.
In winter 2019, Arjona starred alongside Ryan Reynolds in Michael Bay's Netflix feature Six Underground, which was released on the streaming service on December 13, 2019 and became the third-most-watched Netflix title in 2019 despite premiering 18 days before the year's end.
Arjona completed production on Marco Perego Saldana's feature Keyhole Garden opposite Zoe Saldana and Garrett Hedlund. The film follows a couple whose love for each other struggles to overcome the divisions of life on America's southern border. The film aims to be a timely exploration of the humanity of immigration. Arjona starred alongside Kaitlyn Dever and Jonathan Tucker in an episode of Hulu's anthology series Monsterland, which premiered on the platform in 2020.
In spring 2019, Arjona starred in Amazon/BBC's miniseries Good Omens alongside Jon Hamm, David Tennant and Frances McDormand. The series follows an angel, a demon, an Antichrist, and a witch as they battle between heaven and hell. She also starred alongside Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac in the J.C. Chandor-directed Netflix film Triple Frontier. The film follows former special forces operatives as they reunite to take down a South American drug lord.
In spring 2018, she was seen in Universal Pictures' Pacific Rim: Uprising opposite John Boyega and Scott Eastwood and Warner Bros. Pictures' Life of the Party with Melissa McCarthy.
In winter 2017, Arjona starred in NBC's Emerald City, which was based on the early 20th century "Oz" book series written by L. Frank Baum. The series followed Arjona's Dorothy Gale as she sets out to find the Wizard in the Land of Oz.
In summer 2015, Arjona played a recurring role in HBO's critically acclaimed series True Detective as well as Netflix's Narcos.
Golden Globe and Emmy nominee and SAG and BAFTA Award winner Jared Harris (Nicolas) is a classically trained stage actor and former member of London's famed Royal Shakespeare Company, whose prolific career continuously showcases his ability to easily transform from one character to another and keeps him in the company of some of today's most creative talent in film and television.
Harris' extensive film and television career includes HBO's award winning miniseries Chernobyl; AMC's decade-defining series Mad Men; Netflix's flagship series The Crown; AMC's critically acclaimed cult series The Terror; Steven Spielberg's Academy Award® nominated biopic Lincoln; a turn as Professor Moriarty in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; the outrageously tattooed Captain Mike in David Fincher's Academy Award® nominated 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; and his embodiment of Andy Warhol in the critically acclaimed independent film I Shot Andy Warhol. He made his foray into children's cinema as the voice of Lord Portley-Rind in Focus Features' Academy Award® nominated animated film The Boxtrolls. To date, his career spans over seventy films and television shows.
Harris appeared last spring in BritBox and AMC's limited series The Beast Must Die, based on the novel by Cecil Day-Lewis. The revenge thriller tells the story of a grieving mother who infiltrates the life of a man she believes killed her son. In the fall of 2021, Skydance and Apple unveiled their epic adaptation of Foundation, Issac Asimov's hugely influential classic sci-fi novels. Harris stars in the series as the book's central character Hari Seldon, a mathematical genius who predicts the demise of the galactic empire.
Al Madrigal (Rodriguez) is one of today's most successful comedians, breaking down barriers for Latinos in the industry and has also crossed over to become a writer, producer and entrepreneur.
His fascination with superheroes and passion for increasing the representation of Latinx stories, characters, and voices has led Madrigal to create and write the comic book series Primos with publisher AWA. Primos brings together three distant cousins, bound together by their ancient spacefaring Mayan lineage to the historical King Janaab, with a profoundly special purpose: to save the world as they know it. The comic's first series is set to release on February 2, 2022.
Currently, Madrigal is writing, producing, and set to star in the CBS series "Guerillas," about a lonely efficiency expert for an oil company who gets kidnapped in South America and ends up working for a disorganised group of guerrilla soldiers to earn back his freedom.
Madrigal and fellow comedian Bill Burr co-founded All Things Comedy - ATC. Over the past five years, ATC has successfully created a digital video platform, original podcasts, production company, comedy record label, television and feature distribution, and a social media consultancy and branded content agency. It is currently the leading comedy podcast network featuring shows hosted by some of the best comedians in the business and has over 15 million listeners and 50+ shows.
ATC just released the show "Bill Burr Presents Immoral Compass" on Roku. The show can best be described as "a dark comedy anthology series exploring life's most difficult dilemmas, all filtered through the lens of one jaded man in his garage," and stars Madrigal himself.
Upcoming, ATC is producing, and Madrigal is an executive producer on, the TV documentary film about the legendary comedian Patrice O'Neal. Madrigal will continue producing Latinx led projects through his HBO 150 deal to help nurture future Latinx creatives through his Mario Prietto Comedy Scholarship established in 2016.
Madrigal's film credits include his standout role as Dan the assistant basketball coach in The Way Back with co-star Ben Affleck. The Warner Bros. film directed by Gavin O'Connor is an inspiring story that follows Jack Cunningham (Affleck), an alcoholic construction worker who is recruited to become head coach of the basketball team at the high school he used to attend. Madrigal has also been seen in Night School alongside Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish.
On television, Madrigal is best known as the Senior Latino Correspondent on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," a series regular and writer on Showtime's "I'm Dying Up Here," and wore three hats as a writer, actor, and producer on the CBS show "Broke".
Madrigal's stand up career took off when he won a jury award for best stand-up comedian at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. After winning the award, he signed a talent holding deal with CBS which led to his special, Comedy Central Presents. Madrigal went on to complete his first one hour special "Why Is the Rabbit Crying?" The special premiered on Comedy Central and was named one of the top 10 comedy specials of 2013 by both Westword and The Village Voice and was praised for "deconstructing stereotypes rather than enforcing them" and "milking incongruity between expectations and reality to hilarious effect." In 2017, Madrigal's critically acclaimed hour special "Shrimpin' Ain't Easy" premiered on Showtime and was also named in Decider and Vulture's Top 10 List for 2017. In an article titled "The Best Standup TV Right Now," Rolling Stone Magazine said, "The Daily Show alum spins comedy gold."
Tyrese Gibson (Stroud) was born and raised in Watts, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the age of 16, he was discovered after being cast in a Coca-Cola commercial. A self-titled debut album quickly followed, as did an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist. Gibson has since released five more studio albums and garnered six GRAMMY® Award nominations. His most recent studio album, "Black Rose," debuted at #1 on the Billboard R&B Albums Chart and featured the single "Shame," which was #1 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs Chart for 16 consecutive weeks.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of John Singleton's Baby Boy, Gibson's feature film debut, for which he garnered an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. Gibson would go on to work with Singleton again on 2 Fast 2 Furious and Four Brothers.
Along with his signature role as Roman Pearce in six Fast & Furious films, including Justin Lin's F9 released last summer, Gibson is internationally recognised for playing Robert Epps in Michael Bay's Transformers franchise. Gibson's feature film credits also include Jon Keeyes' Rogue Hostage with John Malkovich; Deon Taylor's Black and Blue opposite Naomie Harris; Ride Along 2 with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart; Black Nativity with Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson; Legion alongside Dennis Quaid and Paul Bettany; Paul W.S. Anderson's Death Race with Jason Statham, Joan Allen and Ian McShane; Brad Furman's The Take opposite John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez; John Moore's Flight of the Phoenix with Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi; Vondie Curtis-Hall's Waist Deep with Meagan Good and Larenz Tate; and Annapolis, directed by Lin. Gibson's upcoming films include Dangerous opposite Mel Gibson, Famke Janssen, and Scott Eastwood.