The master magicians known as the Four Horsemen return for their most daring and astounding caper ever, elevating the limits of stage illusion to new heights in hopes of clearing their names and exposing the ruthlessness of a dangerous tech magnate.
One year after their astonishing Robin Hood-style magic shows win the public's adulation and confound the FBI, the quartet resurfaces for a dazzling comeback performance that will make their previous escapades seem like child's play. With the help of FBI Special Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the Horsemen - J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and new addition Lula (Lizzy Caplan) - mount a meticulously planned surprise appearance, in hopes of exposing corrupt tech tycoon Owen Case (Ben Lamb).
But their scheme backfires, exposing Dylan's involvement with the Horsemen and sending all five of them back on the run. To regain their freedom and their reputations they are forced by wealthy recluse Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) to recover an unimaginably powerful computer chip stolen by his treacherous former business partner - none other than Owen Case. The Horsemen soon find themselves once again squaring off against unscrupulous businessman Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and professional skeptic Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) as they attempt to accomplish the most difficult heist of their careers - but even they cannot anticipate the ultimate surprise awaiting them.
Now You See Me 2 stars Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland), Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Shutter Island), Woody Harrelson (True Detective, The Hunger Games), Dave Franco (21 Jump Street, Neighbors), Daniel Radcliffe (the Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex, Cloverfield), Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, with Michael Caine (Inception, Interstellar) and Morgan Freeman (London has Fallen, Million Dollar Baby).
The film is directed by Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets, G. I. Joe: Retaliation) from a screenplay by Ed Solomon (Now You See Me, Men in Black), story by Ed Solomon & Peter Chiarelli (The Proposal, Eagle Eye), and based on characters created by Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt. Producers are Alex Kurtzman, p.g.a. (Transformers, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Roberto Orci (Transformers, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Bobby Cohen, p.g.a. (Now You See Me, Revolutionary Road).
Executive Producers are Kevin De La Noy (The Dark Knight Rises, Clash of the Titans), Louis Leterrier and Ed Solomon. CoProducer is David Copperfield. Director of Photography is Peter Deming, ASC (Mulholland Drive, The Cabin in the Woods).
Production designer is Sharon Seymour (Argo, The Town). Editor is Stan Salfas, ACE (Dawn of the Plant of the Apes, One Tree Hill). Costume Designer is Anna B. Sheppard (Inglourious Basterds, Fury). Music is by Brian Tyler (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World). Music Supervisor is Randall Poster. Visual Effects Supervisor is Matt Johnson. Casting is by Deborah Aquila, CSA and Tricia Wood, CSA.
In 2013, Now You See Me mesmerised the world with the David and Goliath escapades of the Four Horsemen, a preternaturally gifted group of professional illusionists who pull off daring heists at the expense of a corrupt billionaire.
Now You See Me 2 brings back the talented group in a lightning-paced global adventure that blurs the line between heroes and villains as the Horsemen continue their mission armed only with their imaginations, skill and camaraderie. The success of the first film, which grossed over $300 million worldwide and earned the People's Choice Award for Favourite Movie Thriller, made the Horsemen's return to the screen inevitable, helmed this time by director Jon M. Chu, whose previous credits include two chapters of the popular Step Up series and the 2013 concert film Justin Bieber's Believe. With expertise in movement, technology and cutting-edge design, Chu brought just the combination of skills the producers were looking for to make big, bold and innovative onscreen magic.
A big fan of Now You See Me, Chu jumped at the chance to work with a cast full of world-class actors, including five Oscar® winners and nominees, to make a movie combining magic, storytelling and mystery. "This script was so much fun to work on," he continues. "However this time around, we get to be with the Horsemen as they are trapped in a magic trick themselves and have to use their illusionist skills to get out. Ed Solomon is a brilliant writer and combines intricate story architecture with a breezy pace and fun tone that makes the movie an event for the whole family."
If directing a sequel to a massively successful movie presented a daunting challenge, it was one Chu was anxious to take on. "I admire everyone involved with this film," he says. "When we all sat down together, it was very intimidating. But everyone was focused on making a great movie, so the collaboration was amazing." Producer Bobby Cohen, a veteran of Now You See Me, happily returned to work on the second chapter. "When we made the first film, we loved it and knew we were on to something, but it never even occurred to us that we would make a sequel. It was very gratifying to be able to call the people who took that original leap of faith with us and say, 'What do you think about doing another one?'"
Writer Ed Solomon, who co-wrote the first film, collaborated with Peter Chiarelli on the new story, which incorporates even more magic, intrigue and action, as well as an international setting. His goal was to capture the spirit of the original movie while reinventing the concept. "We have this group of characters that we really love hanging out with," Solomon says. "What could be different this time? We had the idea of presenting them with a magic trick that they get trapped in and have to figure their way out of. We thought that would be exciting and fun, while giving us a lot to work with."
In Now You See Me 2 the filmmakers have shifted from a performance-oriented heist movie to something harder to categorise, in Solomon's opinion. "For me, movies that defy easy classification are the most successful," he says. "I can't describe what this genre is. It's been called a spy-thriller or a caper movie. Some people call it a magic-comedy. It's a little bit of all of those things. We tried to create the feeling that you're watching a really great magician at work. You know you're being fooled, but you don't know how it's being done. It is a slightly heightened reality with characters who are a little bit smarter than most people, people who have skills that seem almost like super powers."
The audience will feel like they are watching first hand as great magicians do their best work, according to the screenwriter, whose numerous past credits include Men in Black and cult-classic Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. "You should have that dual response that magic so often evokes," Solomon says. "You are amazed by what you are seeing even though you know you're being fooled. You're excited to see where it will take you. There's that wonderful suspension of disbelief."
Solomon praises Chu's on-set demeanor, as well as his innate filmmaking instincts. "There are so many things that I really like about working with Jon," says the screenwriter. "He's very trusting of the artists around him because he believes they will bring their best work to the movie. Just knowing he believes that makes people strive to do it. He's got an incredible eye and he's really good with choreography and movement. His rapport with the actors is great. Jon runs a really calm and easy set, and given how complicated this movie is, that's a really great place to be."
"I've known Jon for about ten years," says Cohen. "He had just come out of USC film school, where he made an extraordinary short that was a full-fledged musical. He was one of the first people we thought of for this. He really understands that choreography and movement within a frame is essential to what magicians do."
Now You See Me 2 picks up one year after the first film ends, with the Horsemen in hiding and waiting to find out what the mysterious secret society of magicians known as The Eye will ask of them next. Although the Horsemen's nemesis, Thaddeus Bradley, a notorious debunker of magic, has been framed for their crimes and jailed, the magicians remain the subjects of an FBI manhunt.
"In the first movie, the Horsemen know their plan before we do," says Cohen. "The audience has the pleasure of trying to figure it out. This time, things go wrong very quickly for the Horsemen. The audience can look forward to watching a movie that has a bigger scope, bigger laughs and bigger action, while going deeper into the mythology of The Eye. We have impressive magic tricks, more puzzles, more surprises and so much more fun."
At the heart of this film, like that of its predecessor, is a sense of adventure and wonder, says Solomon. "I hope it's at least as much fun for the audience to watch as it was for us to make," he adds. "I think people love magic for the same reason they love jokes. It's the element of surprise. You know it's a game, but you feel safe. People love watching an expert doing something they don't quite understand and trying to get to the bottom of that mystery."
With an extraordinary cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine in the roles they originated, as well as newcomers Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Sanaa Lathan and Jay Chou, Now You See Me 2 delivers the chemistry, excitement and mystery of the original as well as an innovative new story. "We've got some of the greatest actors working today in a film showcasing epic-scale magic," says Solomon.
Oscar® nominee Mark Ruffalo (Best Supporting Actor, Spotlight, 2015), reprises his role as Dylan Rhodes, the FBI agent who was born into the world of magic. Revealed to the Horsemen as a member of The Eye in the first film, Dylan is still with the FBI and still trying to keep his past under wraps. A tremendously skilled magician himself, Dylan might prefer to be performing with the Horsemen, but his considerable talents are best used behind the scenes, where his skills can circumvent the stickiest situations.
"What better person could you ever have in your movie than Mark Ruffalo?" asks Chu. "He is the kindest, most talented person I've ever met. Mark was the leader on our set. As soon as he walked in, his energy was contagious. His performance is brilliant. He is the anchor and it was so nice to have him in our movie."
After having a blast making the first film, Ruffalo was happy to return for the sequel. "The movies have the same joie de vivre we have with each other in real life," he says. "This is a little bit grander than the first one. The payoff is a final, big magic trick that is mind-blowing and really satisfying."
In the first film, the audience is led to believe that Dylan is a bumbling FBI agent constantly being outsmarted by the Horsemen. By the end of the film however, it is revealed that he has orchestrated virtually everything that happens. "We know what he's up to this time, but it isn't going smoothly," Ruffalo says. "They're trying to expose a tech upstart who has figured out how to put a backdoor on all kinds of encryption in order to steal information. The whole game is to expose this guy, but it quickly starts to go sideways. At the same time, Atlas is questioning Dylan's leadership and his credibility at the FBI is in question. He's in a bit of a crisis. For him, the journey is really to find himself, whatever that means." To reach his ultimate goal, Dylan has to rely on Thaddeus Bradley, a man he had unjustly imprisoned. "That makes him very uncomfortable," says Ruffalo. "It gives Thaddeus all the power in the relationship and he uses that to exact his revenge on Dylan, in the form of a humiliating comeuppance."
Working with Jon M. Chu, there was never a dull moment on set, says the actor, and the director's unique skills elevated the movie. "What he does beautifully is choreography," says Ruffalo. "The way he moves the camera is really specific, but also really imaginative. He reveals the story like a magic trick, peeling back layer after layer. He's brought the franchise a really high-tech feeling to take it one step further."
As J. Daniel Atlas, the charismatic, arrogant leader of the Horsemen, Oscar®-nominee Jesse Eisenberg provides the brains behind the operation, always one step ahead of everybody else. Atlas is a sleight-of-hand expert and all-around master illusionist, but he also has a powerful grasp of human psychology that allows him to manipulate others with ease. "Jesse is brilliant both as a human being and an actor," says Chu. "I admire him so much. No matter how I imagine a scene being played out, he always creates something more unique and more honest than anyone I've ever worked with. So it's a pleasure and an honor to watch him work and try to capture as much of his nuance as possible on camera. I think he's a living legend already at such a young age and I look forward to both working with him and seeing his work for years to come."
Shooting the original Now You See Me had an almost experimental feeling, remembers Eisenberg. Throughout the production, the filmmakers were actively discovering the right tone for their story. "We were trying to figure out how dramatic it could be, how funny it could be, how splashy it could be without compromising what made it feel real and intense. That was difficult to balance. This time, we had already established the right blend of humour, intensity and showmanship."
Another significant difference with the sequel is its point of view, says Eisenberg. "In the first movie, you're with the FBI agents tracking these enigmatic performers who seemingly drop in from nowhere, perform great feats with perfect precision and then disappear. Now we're behind the scenes with the Horsemen as they use all their combined skills to try to get out of this mess. You get to see new sides of our characters."
Just as the film pushes the limits of illusion, Chu pushes the limits of how films can be made, says Eisenberg. "Jon used techniques on this movie that have never been used before. His interest in finding out what technology can do for cinema totally mirrors what the Horsemen do with magic. He engages the audience in a totally interactive and self-aware way."
Merritt McKinney, played by two-time Oscar®-nominee Woody Harrelson, is the hypnotist of the gang, a trickster who can seemingly hack his way into other people's minds. Merritt has an uncanny ability to discern thoughts through observation and deduction. And because the filmmakers decided to delve a bit more deeply into the character's history, Harreslon got a chance to play a second role - Chase McKinney, Merritt's twin brother and a rogue mentalist with a grudge against his sibling.
"At some point we said, wouldn't it be really funny if Woody went up against Woody?" recalls Cohen. "When we asked if he was interested, it took him about two seconds to say yes. He's got different hair and a different wardrobe, and he came up with a completely different character that has, in many ways, the same charm that Merritt does, but in a different way."
Harrelson enjoys a reputation as a laidback guy, but on set he was the epitome of professionalism, according to Chu. "His comedic timing is perfect," says the director. "He hits every mark every time. But he's also the life of the party. Everybody wants to hang out with him. For him to play two characters was really fun. He created this crazy Chase character with perfect teeth, perfect hair, this weird tan and he just had fun with it."
Harrelson so loved the experience of making the first movie that he was eager to jump into the sequel. "There was so much more to explore in this magician-heist-thriller, and I was excited to do it," he says. "We all have a great deal of affection for each other, so it was fun to be hanging out 12 hours a day, making each other laugh."
Writer Ed Solomon created another strong, intricate, original script, says Harrelson. "Ed was relentless in his efforts to make this great. There's so much going on in the story and everybody rose to the occasion. Everyone I know who's seen it has said the same thing at the end - 'It's over already?' They wanted it to keep going. I think we've done that really magical thing that rarely happens - a sequel that's better than the original."
Fitting into a cast that already has a close bond could have been a challenge for a director, observes the actor, but Chu rose to the occasion. "It's hard to come into a group where almost everybody else knows each other. Who knows if you're going to jibe? Obviously the director's the most important guy on the set, so you're hoping that he's a great guy and Jon is. He knows how to make the script sing and jump off the page."
Master pickpocket and cardistry expert Jack Wilder is played by Dave Franco, who learned to fling, flip, rotate and juggle playing cards with amazing speed and accuracy. Chock full of action, humour and drama, Now You See Me 2 has all the things Franco says he looks for in a script.
"It really caters to everything I love to do as an actor," he says. "The cast was another huge reason I was excited to come back. I get to play off some of the best actors in the world and they make it so easy. Even though we were working extremely long hours on complicated set pieces, the days went by so quickly. I don't know if I laugh as hard with anyone else in my life as I do with this cast."
At the end of the first movie, Jack has faked his own death. The Horsemen are all in hiding and awaiting their next mission from The Eye. "We are asked to take down a giant tech company that has been selling user information on the black market," says Franco. "In the midst of trying to expose them, something goes terribly wrong and our backs are against the wall. We spend the rest of the movie trying to figure out who's behind all of this and how we can manage to regain control. But to do that the Horsemen need to remember how to work as a single organism. We've all been doing our own things and we have forgotten how to work together."
An additional complication is that Henley (Isla Fisher) is no longer with the Horsemen. For someone as bold and brassy as Henley, living incognito is simply too much for her - not to mention that Atlas is more concerned with finding out who really runs The Eye than he is paying proper attention to Henley, who is still in love with him. However, with Henley off to pursue other opportunities, we now introduce a new wild card to the team - Lula, the new female Horseman, played by Lizzy Caplan.
Lula is a "geek magician" whose work is meant to shock. She is introduced to Atlas when she beheads herself in his living room. "She's sweet and bubbly on the surface, but her magic has a real bloodlust," says Solomon. "She's a super fun character, both to write and to watch, and it gets even better when it's performed by somebody like Lizzy." Being able to give as good as she gets was essential for fitting into the mostly male cast.
"Lizzy throws a new element into this mix, because she can hit right back at them," says Chu. "She's dirtier than all of them put together. If any of them made any sort of joke, she would top them. She will go further than you think any actor can go for the joke. And she's the sweetest, kindest person. What a great firecracker to have in this movie to freshen it up!"The actress says she enjoyed the gory illusions she learned to perform. "I got to cut off body parts. Any time I tried to push it further, they always let me."
Caplan vividly remembers seeing Now You See Me for first time. "There's something really nice about showing up to a movie theatre and watching something that's just trying to entertain you," Caplan says. "This has lots of action in it, lots of explosions, but tons of really funny stuff in it, too. Sometimes you want to go see a movie that just makes you laugh and smile and feel excited, and that's what this movie is."
Working in an ensemble cast, especially one this talented, took a lot of pressure off each individual, says Caplan. "If you get along as well as we all did, it makes every day really fun. And Jon M. Chu was the perfect director for our very rambunctious group of actors. He comes from a big family, so he's used to being surrounded by a bunch of siblings, yelling and screaming and breaking things. His feathers never get ruffled. As inappropriate and ill-behaved as we were, he loved it."
Lula has a crush on Jack Wilder and she's not shy about expressing her feelings, adding a bit of romance to the proceedings. "She really goes after it in an uncomfortable way," Caplan notes. "Dave Franco is the best. We worked to come up with interesting stuff for our little love-story element. He was just wonderful to collaborate with." The filmmakers were delighted to have Oscar®-winner Sir Michael Caine return as scheming billionaire Arthur Tressler, who is out for revenge against the Horsemen for the humiliation he suffered at their hands. "Michael is everything you would want Michael to be," says Cohen. "What comes across always is his unbelievable pride and craftsmanship. He always delivers. And you know ... he's Michael Caine!"
Chu was especially thrilled to work with one of his childhood heroes. "It is such an honor to be working with the great Sir Michael Caine. You don't dare imagine, as a kid that you will get to work with this legend. He's an icon, and to be shooting in London with him is even more insane. On set, we would just ask him to tell us stories about all the movies he's made."
Caine's character, Arthur Tressler, is hell-bent on destroying the Horsemen, whatever the cost. "He is so dastardly that he's funny, which is a tricky thing to play," says the acclaimed actor. "You must play a character like Tressler absolutely seriously. And this time he has teamed up with a villain even more evil than he is. It's a much bigger movie than the first one and the tricks are spectacular."
Caine admits to being a sucker for magic. "The first time I remember seeing a magician was at a children's party when I was about four or five. A man had an egg and he put it in his hat. When he took a hat off, there was a little tiny chicken standing on his head. I was hooked. This movie is bit like one whole magic trick itself. You keep trying to figure it out but it isn't until the end that you're let in on the secrets."
Also returning is Oscar®-winner Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley, notorious debunker of stage magic and the Horsemen's archenemy. "Morgan and Michael were a huge part of the success of the first movie," Cohen says. "They are two of the most iconic actors of our time, as well as consummate pros. They had a scene together that we couldn't schedule. When I went to them with the problem, they each made a huge effort to make it back to London to film it." Working with Freeman made Chu feel like his life was being narrated by some omniscient being. "In fact, he's the ultimate prankster," the director says. "We tried to prank him, but he does not like to be pranked. He will not give you the satisfaction of the joke."
According to Freeman, the new film surpasses its predecessor in terms of inventiveness and excitement. "And I think the first film was very innovative story-wise," he says. "It was well written and well-conceived in terms of offering magic on a large scale. No one's done major magic in film, I think, since Orson Welles did The Magician in the '40s. So it's brand new to our audience. If you want to excite people, give them something new."
Returning for a sequel is like working in Repertory Theater, says Freeman, a veteran stage actor. "You work with a group of people over a period of time and develop a comfort level in terms of rhythm and trust. We all came back together, and we know who we are, not just from having worked together before, but because we've seen the finished film and we know what we did right."
Many of Freeman's scenes in the film are with Mark Ruffalo, whom he describes as an actor of enormous talent. "Working with somebody like that is freeing. Acting is a lot like closing your eyes and falling backwards. If you've got somebody you know will catch you every time, it's easy to do."
At the end of the first film, Thaddeus has been falsely imprisoned at the behest of Dylan and the Horsemen, but Freeman assures audiences that will be temporary. "Thaddeus is nothing if not resourceful," he says. "I will find a way to get out. This takes the story to a different level in terms of action, drama, suspense and comedy, all in one film. We haven't stinted on anything."
New addition Daniel Radcliffe joins the cast as Walter Mabry, a wealthy entrepreneur in hiding in a fabulous highrise apartment in Macau. "Walter Mabry is a sort of boy wonder, who loved magic at one time, but was never very good at it," explains Chu. "He has this brilliant idea that science can overcome all magic, even though he is still a fanboy and an admirer of the Horsemen, whom he has kidnapped to do his will. Daniel has displayed a lot of different sides throughout his career, but this playful, weird, demented side is something we've never seen."
What stood out for Radcliffe about the first film were the wide-ranging experiences of the accomplished cast. "It's such an amazing group of actors, all bringing such different things from interesting and varied careers," the actor says. "They seemed to be having such a great time together and that's really compelling for an audience to watch." Mabry enlists the Horsemen in a plot to steal a heavily guarded piece of technology, something he feels is rightly his, but his motives are much darker than they initially appear. "Walter was probably a kid who tried to do a bit of magic for a while, but wasn't that skilled at it," says Radcliffe. "He doesn't want to suspend disbelief - he wants to find out how things are done. There's a little bitterness there, because he isn't as talented as the Horsemen. So he kind of wants to be their friend, but he resents them as well."
A mystery man with a complicated proposal for the Horseman, Mabry will not take no for an answer. His background may be high tech, but his passion is magic. "There are a lot of fun themes in this movie, and one involves science versus magic," Solomon says. "We explore the idea that the only real magic today is happening in the world of science. Walter Mabry is a brilliant, spoiled man-child who fancies himself an amateur magician, but beyond that he is an actual scientist."
"Jon has done a fantastic job," Radcliffe says. "To take on something of this magnitude requires real vision. He breaks down immense sequences into streamlined storytelling in a way that is wonderful to watch. There's a crucial sequence in which the Horsemen have to steal something right under people's noses. Jon created an incredibly cool, complicated scene that uses stage magic to pull off the heist in a way that hasn't been seen before on screen." There is something about magic that reduces us all to children, believes Radcliffe. "Sleight-of-hand is very hard, but some of the best tricks in the world are so incredibly simple and effective."
Deputy Director of the FBI Natalie Austin, who has been in pursuit of the Horsemen since they disappeared after their last show, is played by another new cast member, Sanaa Lathan. "I've been a fan of Sanaa's since Love and Basketball," says Chu. "When an actor appears in little slots of time in the movie, they have to be precise. Bringing in a great actor like Sanaa was really important."
A fan of the first film, Lathan was eager to join the cast of the sequel. "It had all the exciting elements of a big franchise movie, as well as a really great story and interesting characters," she says. "The idea of a group of top-level magicians being involved in a heist and giving back to the poor is a really fresh idea and done very well." Fans can look forward to more of the spectacular illusions and stunts they loved the first time around, she promises. "It's going to be bigger and it's going to be better. The tricks are out of this world. It's the kind of movie you can see again and again because it's so intricate that there will be new discoveries every time you watch it."
Also new to the cast is Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou, who appears as Li, proprietor of a decades-old magic shop in Macau that holds critical clues to the film's many mysteries. A multi-talented musician and actor, Chou is also a skilled magician who would entertain the cast and crew with some of his signature tricks between shots. "I love Jay Chou," says the director. "I'm a fan of his and so is my mother! He's just so charming. This guy is a Jack-of-all-trades, the coolest dude, and I want to be exactly like him."
Chou is, in fact, one of the biggest recording artists in the world. "He is unbelievably charismatic, funny, and, as it turns out, a fairly accomplished magician in his own right," Cohen says. "Since he was a fan of the first movie, he wanted to be a part of this. He is a worthy addition to our group of heroes and he really makes the Macau section of the film feel alive."
Director Jon M. Chu acknowledges that he learned a great deal while making Now You See Me 2, much of it from the film's accomplished cast. "Each of them is a master craftsman. They all have mastered the art of being present and being true to a character. They are really our secret weapons. Every time you pair Jesse with Dave Franco or Mark Ruffalo with Morgan Freeman, there's magic that you just have to capture in your cameras. When you have actors like that, you can throw crazy, impossible things at them and they're going to give a reality to it that the audience will plug into."
After starting out in New York City, where the first film left off, the action of Now You See Me 2 soon becomes international as The Horsemen are transported to Macau, seemingly by magic, then on to London for a final showdown with an unexpected alliance of enemies.
For Chu, the bright, busy seaport of Macau was the perfect place to set many of the film's central scenes. "From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to take the Horsemen to a place where mystery and magic are woven into the history," the director says. "Macau is an exotic, beautiful, strange mix of Portuguese architecture and Chinese culture, with Las Vegas thrown in for good measure. Everywhere you point the camera is gorgeous. The feeling and the texture of the place embody the spirit of what this movie is about."
For that reason, it was essential to Chu that the exterior scenes be shot on location. "You can't duplicate the streets of Macau," says the director. "Every detail is important, from the tiles on the sidewalks to locals putting up their laundry. For the Horsemen, it's like they've landed in Oz with street vendors, people playing mah-jongg on the corner and cyclists whizzing by them. A lot of it was real life on the street and the actors never knew what was coming next."
One of the world's wealthiest cities, Macau lies on a peninsula attached to mainland China, but has more in common with Hong King, another former European colony that lies less than 50 miles off the coast. Part of the People's Republic of China since 1999, Macau was colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
"The architecture is a really interesting cultural mixture," says Cohen. "You see Portuguese art-deco buildings from the 1930s next to more modern Asian structures and then, in a different part of town, it looks just like Vegas. That's the kind of stuff you cannot fake. The street scene there was absolutely insane. We'd hired about a hundred extras, but by the time we finished shooting, there were about five hundred people there."
The city's long relationship with magic informs the scenes set there in the same way as New Orleans occult traditions did the first film, according to Chu. The Portuguese first brought European magic to Asia and it put down deep roots. Iong's Magic Shop, which figures prominently in the story, is a very old and famous place that actually exists. "Ed worked it into the script, so when we got to Macau, one of the first places we went was Iong's," says the director. "It was much more understated than the one we built, but it's still pretty trippy."
Macau also reverberates with the glitzy buzz of Las Vegas, with magnificent luxury hotels and casinos that attract high rollers from all over the world. One of those, the Sands Macao Hotel, permitted the filmmakers to shoot on the gaming floor. "It is complicated trying to shoot in a casino while it's in operation, but the Sands did an amazing job," Cohen says. "We also did something that has rarely been tried in a movie this size. We shot with a drone helicopter camera inside the casino, moving at about 25 miles an hour while tracking with the actors. It's totally crazy, but it worked."
Production designer Sharon Seymour constructed the interior, a sparkling white, ultra-modern laboratory, as well as the dark and dusty magic emporium, the bustling bazaar, and Walter's spectacular penthouse apartment (with a view of the Macau skyline added in post-production) on soundstages in London.
"Once we knew we were taking the movie to Macau, we wanted to make sure it felt authentic," says Cohen. "We knew that Iong's and the bazaar would be centerpieces of the film and we wanted them to feel alive. Sharon created an incredible multi-floored Asian marketplace in an abandoned building in the center of London. It had such detail. When the actors came on the set, it immediately put them into character."
Seymour based the sets on meticulous research, including the actual interior of the original Macanese magic shop. "Our magic consultants were really helpful, but even before they were on board, all of us were doing research," says the production designer. "My office corridors were lined with posters of magicians. We went to the Davenport Magic Museum outside of London. The architecture of the magic-store set was very influenced by our initial scouting trip to Macau, where I saw antique stores and herb shops that gave us ideas for how all the things should be displayed."
Seymour's version of Iong's Magic Shop has the timeless feeling of an extraordinary destination that has hosted generations of famous magicians and illusion makers. "We have everything from turn-of-the-century artifacts to contemporary plastic items," she says. "It's a very special kind of environment that reflects the world of magic." In the U.K., where the bulk of filming was done, locations included the Royal Observatory in historic Greenwich, which marks the prime meridian - the longitudinal zero-degree line, and the Tilbury Docks in the Port of London. Atlas' mind-bending, rain trick was filmed at the Royal Navy Academy in Greenwich and Lula's breathtaking magic stunt takes place in front of the famed British clipper ship, the Cutty Sark, one of the last tea clippers to be built before the advent ofsteam ships.
Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard created wardrobes for the characters that incorporate their evolution since the last film. "Many of the characters had already been established in the first movie, but they have moved on a bit," she explains. "We decided no more hoodies for Atlas. He's in more fashionable, better-fitting clothes that make him seem more grownup. Dylan is coming into his own so we put him in some very handsome suits. Merritt stays almost the same." The actors had a big say in what they wore, Sheppard says. "For Dave Franco, we came back to almost the same costume he wears in the first part because he felt better with his character being behind the scenes in his leather jacket and pair of jeans."
With the new characters, Sheppard had more freedom to create original looks. "Ensuring that Daniel Radcliffe looks mature when everyone remembers him as Harry Potter was another challenge. We clothed him beautifully and a little eccentrically: no socks, velvet slippers and Vivienne Westwood."
The designer also shopped the streets and marketplaces of Macau and Hong Kong for the scenes in the crowded bazaar, buying four hundred sets of costumes that represent the average resident of the city. "I also went to China and Thailand for original antique clothes. We found amazing things, some of the pieces are museum quality."
Once again, the filmmakers behind Now You See Me 2 brought in the world's foremost magicians to help create real-life illusions that boggle the mind and are performed "in camera" by the cast, with little or no help from the specialeffects department.
For the magic to work, the audience has to feel they are experiencing it as it takes place, says Chu. "It can be hard to shoot magic for a film. With visual effects, you can make a dinosaur come to life, an alien land on earth, anything. But we decided to do as much practical magic as we could and teach the actors how to actually do it. It's important that the audience doesn't think we're cheating - and we're not. We are actually doing the magic on screen as you watch, with no cuts. And then what's fun is that later in the movie, we will show you how it was done."
Chu was determined to make bigger and bolder illusions than ever before, which meant asking a lot more of the cast. The actors attended magic camp a few weeks before shooting began, where they spent hours honing their dexterity, learning to make things disappear and how a professional magician talks and moves. Mark Ruffalo even learned to breathe fire for the film.
Once again, the filmmakers behind Now You See Me 2 brought in the world's foremost magicians to help create real-life illusions. "One of the hardest things to get right about this movie, and yet also one of the most fun parts of the job, was integrating the magic into it," says Solomon. "You don't realise just how much hard work goes into making something seem effortless. I'm not speaking simply of magic tricks, whether they are small, medium or large. I am talking about creating a mood of magic throughout whole movie, so that it works like one big magic trick. We tried to create the suspension of disbelief that you have when you're at a magic show."
The filmmakers turned to some of magic's biggest names for help even while developing the script, including mentalist, hypnotist and magician Keith Barry and world-famous illusionist David Copperfield, who serves as co-producer. "Our consultants are among the best," Solomon says. "Keith was on the set every single day. David was very involved in helping me construct some of the set pieces. Getting to just call David Copperfield and say, 'I have this idea for an illusion,' was incredible. David was super helpful. He is so aware of things like depth of field and the way it affects the eye and the mind."
Barry, who has been performing publicly since he was four also provided ongoing technical support. "The way Ed's mind works is amazing," Barry says. "He put in phenomenal twists and turns that set this apart from the first film. It's a lot faster-paced and there'll be a lot more magic. We've jam-packed it with illusions, mentalism, cardistry and hypnotism." Consulting across all departments, he worked closely with the actors on their individual scenes and skills, collaborated with the props and special effects, and helped Solomon design illusions that could be performed live. "It would be much easier to use visual effects, but it's important for the movie-going audience to know that the things that we've done are real," says Barry. "That's the essence of a good magic movie. If we put in a lot of CGI, people would realise that we can do anything that way, even things that can't be done in real life. We made a decision to use the least amount of CGI possible, which was fun for me, because I live for performing live. I hope that will resonate with the audience."
In addition to Barry, magicians Andrei Jikh and Blake Vogt were also brought in to assist the cast and filmmakers with the technical aspects of the magic sequences. Vogt worked closely with the prop crew to make sure that as many of the effects as possible happened in camera. "Coming from a magician's standpoint, this is a perfect movie," Vogt says. "It's about a team of magicians, which is a great twist. In real life, we do work together and challenge each other to be better and more inventive all the time. Even on the set, I'd do a trick, then Andrei would do a trick. We go back and forth. It's cool to see a movie based on that."
Jikh, an expert in cardistry, trained the actors to manipulate playing cards with amazing speed and accuracy. "We trained the cast in how to think like a cardist: how to secretly conceal cards, how to throw them like a ninja, and flick the cards from hand to hand. All of these things required focus, practice and insane dexterity. We had a lot of fun and the cast did an amazing job learning each and every technique."
The actors had to become cardistry experts in a relatively short time for a central scene in the film. "Daniel Radcliffe has one scene where he needs to do something with a playing card," adds Jikh. He spent so much time perfecting that one move that he can now do it without looking at his hands. Dave Franco can flick a card from here to the other side of the room and hit something. He is absolutely brilliant at catching and throwing cards, as well as all kinds of sleight-ofhand stuff. Lizzy can really catch a card in her jacket or her hand or even her hair."
Actor Woody Harrelson had to learn to manipulate more than cards for his role as a world-class mentalist and hypnotist. "The way he approached his role was truly phenomenal," says Jikh. "I've seen him hack into people's brains and hypnotise people better and quicker than some of the best in the business. If he decided to give up acting and become a full-time hypnotist we should all be afraid, very afraid. These guys jumped in at the deep end and spent many, many hours practicing and rehearsing by themselves, which was fantastic to see and makes the scene an epic moment in the movie."
The ultimate goal of the entire magic team, according to Barry, was to capture the childlike sense of wonder we lose as we become adults. "My hope is that for the two hours they are watching this movie, people will just lose themselves in it," he says. "As we grow up, we start to understand how the world works and it takes away that sense of wonder. If you happen to meet a magician at a party, it will bring you back to it, to not knowing how something is done. It just gives you that little buzz. And that's what we magicians live for - performing in theaters before a thousand people at a time and just giving them a moment to forget about their everyday lives, about their problems, and remember what it is to wonder again."
Chu hopes that he and everyone involved in the film have created something that will appeal to moviegoers of all ages. "It has suspense," he says. "It has an emotional story. It has spectacle. It's a fun ride with plenty of magic tricks and some of the best actors in the world, legends and future legends. These things combined should create an unforgettable movie experience. If you want to have a fun time with your friends or your family, to experience something you will talk about afterward, this is the movie to go to."
Jesse Eisenberg (J. Daniel Atlas) is an Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award® nominee, garnering praise for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in David Fincher's The Social Network. A multifaceted and dynamic actor, he is also an acclaimed author and playwright. Eisenberg's acting credits include The Double, Night Moves, Now You See Me, Zombieland, Adventureland, The Squid and the Whale, Roger Dodger, The Education of Charlie Banks, 30 Minutes or Less, American Ultra, The End of the Tour, Louder Than Bombs and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Also a stage actor, Eisenberg has been in various plays including "The Spoils" for The New Group (2015). Eisenberg wrote and starred alongside Vanessa Redgrave in his play "The Revisionist." He also wrote and starred in the play "Asuncion" at the Cherry Lane Theatre, earning a Drama League nomination for Distinguished Performance. Born in New York, Eisenberg is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker magazine and the author of the shortstory collection Bream Gives Me Hiccups, from Grove Press.
Mark Ruffalo (Dylan Rhodes) has received nominations for the Oscar®, Golden Globe®, BAFTA, Emmy Award® and many other prestigious honours, easily moving between stage and screen to work with directors such as Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Spike Jonze, David Fincher, Fernando Meirelles and Michel Gondry. In 2015 Ruffalo starred in Tom McCarthy's Academy Award®-winning film Spotlight. The film followed The Boston Globe coverage of the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal, for which the newspaper won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Spotlight won Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards® and Ruffalo was an Oscar® nominee for Best Supporting Actor. He shared in the film's Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Ruffalo also received a Golden Globe® nomination this past year for his role in Infinitely Polar Bear. He starred opposite Zoe Saldana as a bipolar husband and father who goes off his medication and proceeds to lose both his job and sanity, while struggling to hold onto his marriage. Earlier in 2015, Ruffalo reprised his role as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the hit sequel to The Avengers. Directed by Joss Whedon, the film reunited Ruffalo with co-stars Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.
In 2014 Ruffalo received Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, Screen Actors Guild Award® and BAFTA nominations for his role as the late Olympic wrestler David Schultz in Foxcatcher. The actor also received a Screen Actors Guild Award®, as well as Golden Globe® and Emmy® nominations, for his role as gay-rights activist Ned Weeks in the HBO movie The Normal Heart, based on the play by Larry Kramer. Directed by Ryan Murphy, the telefilm also starred Julia Roberts and Matt Bomer. Also in 2014, Ruffalo starred in John Carney's Begin Again, alongside Keira Knightley and Hailee Steinfeld.
Previously, Ruffalo earned Oscar®, Screen Actors Guild Award®, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award® nominations for his performance in The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko. He was also honored with a Best Supporting Actor Award from the New York Film Critics Circle.
Ruffalo earned critical recognition in 2000 for his role in Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count on Me, opposite Laura Linney and Matthew Broderick. At the 2000 Sundance Film Festival the Martin Scorsese-produced film won the Grand Jury Prize for best film in dramatic competition, as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.
Other film credits include Now You See Me, Thanks for Sharing, Shutter Island, We Don't Live Here Anymore, Zodiac, The Brothers Bloom, Collateral, 13 Going on 30, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, In the Cut, Margaret, Blindness, Just Like Heaven, Reservation Road, All the King's Men, What Doesn't Kill You, My Life Without Me, The Last Castle, Windtalkers, XX/XY, Committed, Ride with the Devil, Studio 54, Safe Men, The Last Big Thing, A Fish in the Bathtub and Apartment 12.
Also a writer, director and producer, Ruffalo co-wrote the screenplay for the independent film The Destiny of Marty Fine. In 2010 Ruffalo made his directorial debut with Sympathy for Delicious, which starred Orlando Bloom and Laura Linney and won the Special Jury Prize for best dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival.
Ruffalo's acting roots lie in the theater, where he first gained attention starring in the Off Broadway production of "This Is Our Youth," for which he won a Lucille Award for Best Actor. In 2000 he was seen in the Off Broadway production "The Moment When," a play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner James Lapine. He made his theater debut in "Avenue A" at the Cast Theatre. Ruffalo made his Tony Award®-nominated Broadway debut in 2006 with the Lincoln Center Theater revival of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing!" In 2000 Ruffalo directed Timothy McNeil's original play "Margaret" at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles.
Ruffalo advocates for addressing climate change and increasing renewable energy. In March 2011 he co-founded Water Defense to raise awareness about energy extraction's impact on water and the public health. A regular contributor to The Guardian and Huffington Post, Ruffalo has received the Global Green Millennium Award for Environmental Leadership and the Meera Gandhi Giving Back Foundation Award. He was named one of Time magazine's "People Who Mattered" list in 2011 and received the Big Fish Award from Riverkeeper in 2013. Ruffalo helped launch The Solutions Project in 2012 as part of his mission to share science, business and culture that will demonstrate the feasibility of renewable energy. The actor currently resides with his family in New York.
Woody Harrelson (Merritt McKinney) has a rare mix of intensity and charisma that consistently surprises and delights audiences and critics alike, in both mainstream and independent projects. His portrayal of a casualty notification officer opposite Ben Foster in Oren Moverman's The Messenger garnered a 2010 Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was previously nominated by the Academy Awards®, the Golden Globes® and the SAG Awards® in the category of Best Actor for his portrayal of controversial magazine publisher Larry Flynt in Milos Forman's The People vs. Larry Flynt. More recently, Harrelson starred in HBO's True Detective, co-starring Matthew McConaughey, and received Emmy®, Golden Globe® and SAG Award® nominations.
Harrelson recently completed filming the third installment of the Planet of The Apes film franchise, entitled War for the Planet of the Apes and directed by Matt Reeves. He also finished production on The Edge of Seventeen, produced by James L. Brooks. Upcoming releases include Craig Johnson's Wilson, based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, and Rob Reiner's LBJ, starring as Lyndon B. Johnson. Harrelson next begins production on Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, alongside Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, and The Glass Castle, for director Destin Cretton, based on the bestselling memoir by Jeannette Walls.
Previously, the actor appeared in Louis Leterrier's Now You See Me, as part of an all-star cast; all four Hunger Games films, alongside Jennifer Lawrence; John Hillcoat's Triple 9, with Casey Affleck; Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace, opposite Christian Bale; the animated film Free Birds, with Owen Wilson; and Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths, alongside Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken. Additionally, he was the onscreen host for director Pete McGrain's powerful political documentary Ethos.
In 2012 Harrelson starred opposite Julianne Moore and Ed Harris in the HBO film Game Change for director Jay Roach. His performance as Steve Schmidt was nominated for an Emmy®, SAG Award® and Golden Globe Award®. Other film credits include Rampart, Zombieland, Friends With Benefits, 2012, Semi-Pro, The Grand, No Country for Old Men, A Scanner Darkly, A Prairie Home Companion, Defendor, Seven Pounds, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, North Country, The Big White, After the Sunset, Play It to the Bone, Battle in Seattle, Edtv, The Hi-Lo Country, Transsiberian, The Thin Red Line, Wag the Dog, Welcome to Sarajevo, Kingpin, Natural Born Killers, Indecent Proposal and White Men Can't Jump.
Harrelson first endeared himself to millions of viewers as a member of the ensemble cast of NBC's long-running hit comedy Cheers. For his work as the affable bartender Woody Boyd, he won an Emmy® in 1988 and was nominated four additional times during his eight-year run on the show. In 1999 he received another nomination when he reprised the role in a guest appearance on the spin-off series Frasier. He later made a return to television with a recurring guest role on the hit NBC series Will & Grace.
In 1999 Harrelson directed his own play, Furthest From the Sun, at the Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis. Next he appeared in a Broadway revival of The Rainmaker, Sam Shepard's The Late Henry Moss and John Kolvenbach's On An Average Day. Harrelson directed the Toronto premiere of Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth at Toronto's Berkeley Street Theatre.
In the winter of 2005 Harrelson returned to London's West End and starred in Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana, at the Lyric Theatre. In 2011 Harrelson co-wrote and directed the semi-autobiographical comedy Bullet for Adolf at Hart House Theatre in Toronto. In the summer of 2012 Bullet for Adolf made its Off Broadway debut at New World Stages.
Dave Franco (Jack Wilder) first grabbed the world's attention with his breakout role as the eco-conscious villain Eric in 21 Jump Street, opposite Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. In 2014 Franco starred alongside Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne in the hit comedy Neighbors, which follows a married couple whose neighbours turn out to be a rowdy fraternity. Franco and Efron won MTV Movie Award for Best Duo for their roles as fraternity brothers Pete and Teddy. The actor reprises his role in the sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.
This fall Franco will be seen in Nerve, opposite Emma Roberts. The thriller concerns a high-school senior who finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare where her every move is manipulated by an anonymous community of "watchers". Next, the actor stars alongside James Franco and Seth Rogen in the comedy The Masterpiece, which follows the making of the cult classic "The Room". The film takes an in-depth look at how Tommy Wiseau conceived what many consider one of the worst films ever made.
Previously, Franco starred in the comedy Unfinished Business, opposite Vince Vaughn and Sienna Miller, and the "zom-com" Warm Bodies, opposite Nicholas Hoult. Franco currently resides in Los Angeles.
Daniel Radcliffe (Walter Mabry) is best known for playing the title role in eight Harry Potter films. Since wrapping the final installment of the blockbuster franchise in 2010, he has continued to prove himself a diverse talent. The actor has starred in a horror film (The Woman in Black), a thriller (Horns), a romantic comedy (What If) and a biopic (Kill Your Darlings). He was most recently seen in Victor Frankenstein, a new adaptation of the Mary Shelley classic, and the BBC telefilm The Gamechangers.
Radcliffe appears in the forthcoming adventure Swiss Army Man. Last year he completed production on the independent film Imperium, a thriller about white supremacists in America. He just wrapped the survivalist film Jungle. On stage, Radcliffe starred as Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan, Martin McDonagh's comic masterpiece. The play made its way to Broadway from London's West End, where it debuted the summer of 2013. In 2011 he starred in a 10 month sell-out run of the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Ovation aired two seasons of Radcliffe's TV miniseries A Young Doctor's Notebook, the comedic drama based on a collection of short stories by celebrated Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov, co-starring Jon Hamm. Radcliffe starred as Alan Strang in both the 2007 West End and 2008 Broadway productions of Peter Shaffer's Equus. The London and Broadway productions of Equus were directed by Thea Sharrock and also starred Richard Griffiths.
A lifelong fan of The Simpsons, Radcliffe has lent his voice twice to the show: as a brooding vampire named Edmund for the show's Treehouse of Horror XXI special, which aired in 2010; and as Diggs, a new transfer student whom Bart befriends. Previously, Radcliffe made a guest appearance as himself in the HBO/BBC series Extras. He recently lent his voice to Robot Chicken and BoJack Horseman.
Lizzy Caplan (Lula) currently stars opposite Michael Sheen in Showtime's Masters of Sex, the critically acclaimed drama series about the lives of the sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. For this role Caplan was nominated for an Emmy Award® and a Critics Choice Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, among other honors. She was also recently seen in The Night Before, opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, and made guest appearances on TV comedies The League, Kroll Show and New Girl.
Alongside co-stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, Caplan is currently in production on Allied, directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film, a World War II drama, will be released in November of this year.
Caplan's breakout role came as Janis Ian in the modern classic Mean Girls. Additional film credits include The Interview, Save the Date, Bachelorette, 3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom, Hot Tub Time Machine, Cloverfield, Crossing Over and The Last Rites of Ransom Pride. Caplan also produced and starred in the short film Successful Alcoholics, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
On the small screen, Caplan played the lead role of Casey Klein on the critically acclaimed Starz series Party Down, a comedy that earned an AFI Award in 2009 and was named to Time magazine's list of the Top 10 Shows of 2010. Other TV credits include True Blood, The Class (for which she was named one of 10 Actors to Watch by Variety) Related, Family Guy, American Dad! Tru Calling, Undeclared and Judd Apatow's cult classic Freaks and Geeks.
Caplan resides in her native Los Angeles.
Jay Chou (Li) is a Taiwanese singer, composer, producer, actor and director who made his debut album in 2000 and has ushered in a new generation of C-pop music. Chou made his Hollywood debut as Kato in The Greet Hornet, alongside Seth Rogen, and his popular song Nunchucks was featured on the movie soundtrack. Chou also manages his own record label and management company, JVR Music.
The artist has released 13 albums, with each topping the charts and earning numerous awards. Chou has logged six worldwide concert tours, performing in cities around the world to more than 10 million audience members. By December 2015 Chou had performed 209 concerts worldwide. His 2004-2006 Incomparable Concert in Shanghai broke the world record for the best-selling concert in mainland China.
Chou began his acting career in the film Initial D (2005) and has since ventured into many movie projects. In 2007 he directed and starred in Secret, which became a huge box-office success. Chou produced the soundtrack, which later won him Best Producer and Best Composer awards at the renowned Golden Melody Awards in Asia. He is also the recordholder at the Golden Melody Awards with 15 individual awards.
Sanaa Lathan (Natalie Austin) is a Tony Award®-nominated actress who delivers a striking presence and undeniable energy to each project she takes on. Lathan was last seen in the thriller The Perfect Guy, which finished first at the box office during its opening weekend.
The actress will next be seen in the sci-fi thriller Approaching the Unknown as Captain Emily Maddox, a captain on one of four ships making a one-way trip to Mars. The film, which was developed in the Sundance Lab, also stars Mark Strong and Luke Wilson. Lathan is currently shooting the highly anticipated Fox series Shots Fired, created by Love & Basketball filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood and produced by Academy Award®-winning producer Brian Grazer. The series, which also stars Helen Hunt, Stephen Moyer and Richard Dreyfuss, examines the dangerous aftermath of racially charged shootings in a small town in Tennessee.
Lathan co-starred in The Best Man, one of the top-10 highest-grossing African American films in history, and its wildly popular sequel The Best Man Holiday, with Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Regina Hall and Morris Chestnut. Lathan will also appear in the third film, The Best Man Wedding.
On stage, Lathan starred in the title role in the play By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, a role she originated at the Second Stage Theater in New York. She received the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Actress. Previously, Lathan starred as Maggie the Cat in the West End in the critically acclaimed, Olivier Award-winning revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Other film credits include Contagion, opposite Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Lawrence Fishburne; Something New, with Simon Baker; Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, alongside Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard; Wonderful World, opposite Matthew Broderick; Brown Sugar, alongside Taye Diggs, Queen Latifah and Mos Def; Love & Basketball, with Omar Epps; AVP: Alien vs. Predator, a box-office success for director Paul W.S. Anderson; and the thriller Out of Time, opposite Denzel Washington.
Lathan received an NAACP Image Award nomination for her role on the FX Network series Nip/Tuck. Lathan reprised her role as Beneatha Younger in a highly rated, critically acclaimed ABC Network production of A Raisin in the Sun, alongside Sean Combs. She originally performed the role on Broadway and received a Tony® nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress.
Michael Caine (Arthur Tressler) is a two-time Academy Award®-winning film legend whose career has spanned six decades. His latest film work includes the mega hits Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan, Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service and Oscar®-winning filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino's Youth. He just finished shooting Zach Braff's Going in Style, starring alongside Ann-Margret, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.
Caine won his first Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, a role for which he also received Golden Globe® and BAFTA Award nominations. He took home his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his role in Lasse Hallström's The Cider House Rules, also winning a Screen Actors Guild Award® and netting nominations for Golden Globe® and BAFTA awards.
Caine has garnered four Oscar® nominations for Best Actor, the first coming in 1966 for the title role in Alfie, for which he also received a Golden Globe® nomination and a New York Film Critics Award. He earned his second Oscar® nod, as well as a Golden Globe® nomination and an Evening Standard Award, for the part of Milo Tindle in 1972's Sleuth, opposite Laurence Olivier. His role in Educating Rita brought Caine his third Oscar® nomination as well as Golden Globe® and BAFTA wins. Caine was nominated for all three awards in 2002 for his performance in The Quiet American, also winning a London Film Critics Circle Award.
Caine was the recipient of Golden Globe® and London Film Critics Circle honours (Best Supporting Actor) for Little Voice and took home a London Film Critics Circle Award for his performance in Christopher Nolan's period drama The Prestige. Caine worked with Nolan on three Batman films, playing Bruce Wayne's butler and confidant, Alfred, in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. He also appeared in Nolan's sci-fi hit Inception.
Other film credits include Now You See Me, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Gnomeo & Juliet, Blood and Wine, Quills, Miss Congeniality, Austin Powers in Goldmember, The Weather Man, Children of Men, Last Love, Funeral in Berlin, Billion Dollar Brain, Gambit, Hurry Sundown, Woman Times Seven, Deadfall, The Magus, The Italian Job, Battle of Britain, Too Late the Hero, X, Y and Zee, The Man Who Would Be King, Harry and Walter Go to New York, A Bridge Too Far, California Suite, Dressed to Kill, Victory, Deathtrap, Blame It on Rio, The Holcroft Covenant, Mona Lisa and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, for which he received a Golden Globe® nomination.
Caine was born Maurice Micklewhite in South London in 1933 and developed an interest in acting at an early age. Upon his discharge from the Queen's Royal Regiment and Royal Fusiliers in 1953, he began pursuing his career. Taking his stage name from the book title The Caine Mutiny, he toured Britain in a variety of plays and began appearing in British films and television shows.
In 1964 Caine landed his first major film role as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead in Zulu. The following year, he starred in the hit thriller The Ipcress File, earning his first of 37 BAFTA nominations. However, it was his Oscar®-nominated performance in the seminal '60s film Alfie that catapulted Caine to international stardom.
Also an author, Caine wrote an autobiography entitled "What's It All About?" as well as a book based on a series of lectures he gave on BBC television, "Acting on Film". His latest memoir, "The Elephant to Hollywood", was published to much acclaim in 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. in the United States.
In the 1992 Queen's Birthday Honours, Caine was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.). Eight years later he received a knighthood.
Morgan Freeman (Thaddeus Bradley) is an Academy Award®-winning actor and one of the most recognizable figures in American cinema. Freeman ranks second among the top-grossing actors of all time, with his films having earned over $4 billion in cumulative ticket sales. Whether a role requires an air of gravitas, a playful smile, twinkle of the eye, or a world-weary but insightful soul, Freeman's ability to delve into the core of a character and infuse it with a quiet dignity has resulted in some of the most memorable characters committed to film.
In 2005 Freeman won the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Million Dollar Baby. He earned nominations for Street Smart in 1987 (Best Supporting Actor), The Shawshank Redemption in 1994 (Best Actor) and Invictus in 2010 (Best Actor). He also won the Golden Globe® for Best Actor for his performance in Driving Miss Daisy in 1990. Freeman was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards®. That same year, Freeman received the 39th AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000 Freeman received the coveted Kennedy Center Honour for his distinguished acting, and accepted the Hollywood Actor Award at the Hollywood Film Festival.
Other film credits include London Has Fallen, Last Knights, 5 Flights Up, Lucy, Dolphin Tale 2, Transcendence, The Lego Movie, Last Vegas, Now You See Me, Oblivion, Olympus Has Fallen, The Dark Knight Rises, Dolphin Tale, Born to be Wild 3D, The Dark Knight, The Bucket List, Glory, Clean and Sober, Lean on Me, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Unforgiven, Se7en, Kiss the Girls, Amistad, Deep Impact, Nurse Betty, The Sum of All Fears, Bruce Almighty, Nurse Betty, Brubaker, and Eyewitness, as well as the TV movies Death of a Prophet, Attica and Coriolanus.
In 2010 Freeman won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor for his performance as Nelson Mandela in Invictus. In addition to his Academy Award® nomination for Best Actor, he also received a Golden Globe® nomination and a Broadcast Critics Association nomination. The picture was produced by Revelations Entertainment, the company Freeman and Lori McCreary co-founded in 1996 with a mission to produce films that reveal truth. Revelations' features include the recently completed 5 Flights Up, The Code, The Magic of Belle Isle, Levity, Under Suspicion, Mutiny, Bopha!, Along Came a Spider, Feast of Love, 10 Items or Less and The Maiden Heist, in addition to the Peabody Award-winning ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, The 16th Man.
Freeman is an executive producer on the Revelations Entertainment series Madam Secretary for CBS, starring Téa Leoni, which debuted in 2014. Freeman hosts and is an executive producer for Revelations' three-time Emmy® nominated series Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman, which has completed its fifth season on Science Channel.
Freeman recently narrated the IMAX documentary Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, Science Channel's Stem Cell Universe With Stephen Hawking and the historical doc We the People. Past narrations include two Academy Award®winning documentaries, The Long Way Home and March of the Penguins.
After beginning his acting career in the Off Broadway stage productions of The Nigger Lovers and the all African-American production of Hello Dolly, Freeman segued into television. Many people grew up watching him on the long-running Children's Television Workshop classic The Electric Company, where he played the ironic Easy Reader, among several recurring characters. Looking for his next challenge, he set his sights on both Broadway and the silver screen and quickly began to fill his résumé with memorable performances.
In 1978 Freeman won a Drama Desk Award for his role as Zeke in The Mighty Gents and received a Tony® nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor. His stage work continued to earn him accolades and awards, including Obie Awards in 1980, 1984 and 1987 as well as a second Drama Desk nomination in 1987 for the role of Hoke Colburn, which he created for the Alfred Uhry play Driving Miss Daisy and reprised in the 1989 movie of the same name.
In his spare time, Freeman loves the freedom of both sea and sky; he is a long-time sailor and has earned a private pilot's license. He also has a love for the blues and seeks to keep it in the forefront through his Ground Zero club in Clarksville, Mississippi, the birthplace of the blues. In 1973 Freeman co-founded the Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop, now in its 37th season. The workshop seeks to serve successful playwrights of the new millennium. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Earth Biofuels, a company whose mission is to promote the use of clean-burning fuels, and supports both Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education. Freeman has been named to the Forbes list of Most Trustworthy Celebrities list each of the five times it has been published since 2006.