Stars Talk Upcoming Projects at the Newport Beach Film Festival

The Newport Beach Film Festival teamed up with Variety to honor film veterans and upcomers alike at the Resort at Pelican Hill on November 11th. The legendary Robert Forster received NBFF’s ICON Award, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Colman Domingo and Topher Grace were honored with Artist of Distinction Awards. Meanwhile, breakout stars such as Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2) and more were recognized as the 10 Actors To Watch by Variety.

Before the elegant, a few of the honorees stopped to chat about which of their upcoming films they’re most excited about.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who most recently starred in All About Nina, praised her experience on set with first time director Eva Vives. “It’s an amazing feeling working with women, it’s a different energy,” she gushed. “In particular with Eva, who is so easygoing. The fact that it was her first feature, you would never know it, because she was so poised and so relaxed.” She appreciated the chance to cut through the middle man and connect with a woman directly over the material, which is an opportunity she’ll have again when filming Birds of Prey.

When it comes to portraying Huntress in the DC film, she said she was most excited about “every element of it.” When asked to describe the story, she had nothing but praise, exclaiming that it was, “So fun and so dynamic. Real, funny and raunchy. Feminine, but badass and cool.” Director Cathy Yan has certainly assembled an inspiring team of women, and it’ll be a delight to see them onscreen together soon enough.

Robert Forster, on the other hand, had less concrete future plans to share but a lifetime of achievements to look back on. He doled out excellent advice to younger actors based on his own experiences, saying the most important thing is to just get started and keep going. “Without having a plan or a clue, I started. And I think it’s harder to start today than it was then.”

As for which actors or directors he’d like to collaborate with in the future? “They’re all good, they’re all better than they ever were. But… Damien Chazelle [director of Lala Land] and [Ryan Gosling], what an actor he is. And I voted for [Mahershala Ali] a year or two ago; he’s got a great movie out now, Green Book.” A film with that combination would certainly be worth seeing.

Zazie Beetz, whose career has rightfully skyrocketed after the dual successes of Deadpool 2 and FX’s Atlanta, talked about the influx of scripts she’s received. “It’s a dream to be able to have options,” she confessed. “You really get tested for the first time of what you want to put out, and what is important to you. Finding out, are you financially motivated or not? Are you a networker or not?” For herself, she’s learned that, “I can identify pretty quickly if that’s something I would genuinely be interested in or not.”

One of the projects she was interested in was Joker, which will be out next year and make her one of the few actors to play a character from both major comic franchises. Though she couldn’t spoil too much about the movie, she did explain, “The script keeps changing and moving, and the character keeps shifting as well. I haven’t really had that before to this extent, but I just trust [the director, Todd Phillips]. I’m like, yes, let’s just play.”

Henry Golding’s next project, right off the critical success of Crazy Rich Asians and A Simple Favor, is about a man who travels from London to Vietnam in order to scatter his parents’ ashes. When asked about working on Monsoon, he said, “It’s so moving, so grounded… [My character] goes through those feelings that a lot of us feel of being out of place in our motherland.” Hopefully it will find a home at one or several festivals, and perhaps he’ll be back at Newport Beach Film Festival at this time next year to celebrate yet another success.