Sep 16 2016
This September, thanks to the vagaries of release scheduling, the young American actor Ben Schnetzer will hit movie screens in two very different projects in the span of one week. On the sixteenth, he’ll appear in Snowden, Oliver Stone’s dramatization of the Edward Snowden saga, as a fellow NSA analyst who befriends Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s eponymous revolutionary in a film that, given Stone’s powerful political opinions, promises to stoke intellectual debate. The twenty-third will see the release ofGoat, a particularly visceral and powerful movie about a brutal fraternity hazing, as a freshman undergoing the traumatizing rite of passage under the watch of his older brother, played by Nick Jonas. A rushing undergrad and a computer expert might seem worlds apart, but that range is all in keeping with an actor who has, in just three years, proved his malleability and wide-ranging curiosity in a budding career that is seemingly without pause.
The son of Stephen Schnetzer, a longtime regular of soap operas, and Nancy Snyder, an award-winning theater actress, the 26-year-old Schnetzer began performing in school plays as a child, calling it his “recreation of choice.” A video store across the street from his family home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side helped fuel an eclectic love of movies, and he grew up on a diet of Sidney Lumet, Gus Van Sant, and, somewhat surprisingly, Gene Kelly. “I fucking love musicals, I don’t know how you could not,” he laughs. “Movement and dance are such unadulterated forms of expression. There’s no baggage with it. If I could go back in time, I would’ve started dancing when I was a kid.” A high school play led to an audition with a casting director, which led to an agent, all before he even graduated. Schnetzer had hoped to take a gap year to travel, but he ended up working at Magnolia Bakery to earn some cash and decided to spend his free time focusing on auditions. “I was like, ‘If I’m in the city, let me really try and make auditioning a top priority,’” he recalls. “I saved up my money, went to South America for a few months, came home, was ready to go to college, and that’s when I got my first acting job. It was validating and it was like, ‘Oh, this is real,’ so that’s when the focus shifted.”
Initially intending to study foreign languages or sociology, Schnetzer says he quickly decided to apply to drama school instead, ending up at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama thanks to a passel of factors, including, he jokes, the prospect of graduating in three years instead of four. “There are a lot of American actors that I admire, but all these guys whose work I was really attracted to were classically trained in England,” he says, naming Michael Fassbender, Ben Whishaw, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tom Hardy.
Schnetzer left school after two years to film The Book Thief, but he credits his time there for instilling a strong foundation in him and for showing him, as his parents always said, that acting is both a craft and vocation. “When you’re in a really good mood or you feel open and emotionally available and present, acting is great and it’s the most exhilarating and freeing experience you can have,” he explains. “But when your girlfriend broke up with you and you didn’t get that paycheck from that last job yet and you’re stressed out and didn’t sleep well, that’s when it becomes a profession and that’s when training comes into play.”
Jun 11 2016
Movies > The Grizzlies (2017) > On Set (Twitter/Instagram)
Jun 5 2016
Based on Blizzard Entertainment’s global phenomenon World of Warcraft, played by more than 100 million people since its inception, the epic saga Warcraft sees the peaceful realm of Azeroth on the brink of war, as it faces invasion by orc warriors who are fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As one army faces the other, two heroes – human commander Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and orc chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) – are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their people and their home. Directed by Duncan Jones, the film also stars Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Ben Schnetzer, Rob Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin and Daniel Wu.
At the film’s press day, Collider sat down with actor Ben Schnetzer on the Universal Studios backlot to discuss playing the rebellious young mage Khadgar and bringing magic to life. During the exclusive interview, he talked about why this narrative is a really good entry point into this world and mythology, working with green screen and CGI on practical sets, his favorite moment in the film, and how infectious Duncan Jones enthusiasm is. He also talked about working with Oliver Stone on Snowden, and shooting the true story of The Grizzlies.
Collider: How would you reassure movie-goers thatWarcraft will be both recognizable to fans of the game while also being accessible to people who have never played the game?
BEN SCHNETZER: The narrative told in the film is a really good entry point into the world and into the mythology of the game. It’s a world to which so many fans are dedicated. Duncan [Jones] was just really diligent about being faithful to the mythology of the canon. There’s just a lot of rich source material there. It’s super layered, textured and intricate. I had never played the game before. I was aware of it, but I was not a video game guy, growing up, or a computer game guy. My introduction was through the script and through speaking to Duncan and the team, and then the script was my launching point into the world.
Did you try playing the game, at all?
SCHNETZER: A little bit. I mostly watched people play it. I think you have to play it for awhile, before you get the experience of it, and I didn’t have the time to get to a place where I felt like it would be able to inform the work, at all. Whatever the genre of film you’re doing and whatever the source material is, you have to adapt to the different genre, but it’s the same work, as an actor. You’re just trying to ground it in reality and find your truth in it.
Did it help that you did have a lot of practical sets and stuff for you to work off of, along with the green screen and effects?
SCHNETZER: Yeah, I think that was a huge step in grounding it and making it feel real and concrete. It was tricky and it was challenging, at times, doing stuff on green screen. A lot is left up to the imagination. There are a lot of dots that you have to connect yourself. We knew that we were in amazing hands with ILM, with Duncan, and with the whole VFX team. It was a leap of faith that I think we were all very willing to make.
Jun 1 2016
A few more behind the scenes pictures of The Grizzlies (that is wrapping filming soon) posted on social networks have been added to the gallery. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
Movies > The Grizzlies (2017) > On Set (Twitter/Instagram)
May 6 2016
Feb 18 2016
Graham Yost and ‘Breaking Bad’ writer Moira Walley-Beckett penned the screenplay, with Frank Marshall executive producing the indie.
The Book Thief star Ben Schnetzer has snagged the lead in The Grizzlies, a feature penned by Graham Yost and Breaking Bad writer Moira Walley-Beckett, to shoot in the Arctic starting in April 2016.
Oscar-nominated producer Frank Marshall and Jake Steinfeld, founder of Major League Lacrosse, are executive producing the directorial debut for veteran Canadian producer Miranda de Pencier of Northwood Entertainment. Schnetzer will play the true-life high school teacher, Russ Sheppard, who arrives in a struggling Arctic community to start a lacrosse league.
The sports league galvanizes the town and sparks a change in the kids whose lives are transformed. Schnetzer will next be seen in Oliver Stone’s Snowden, Duncan Jones’ Warcraft and Andrew Neel’s Goat, which bowed in Sundance.
“I’m thrilled to have the talented Ben Schnetzer on board”, de Pencier said Thursday in a statement. De Pencier’s Northwood Entertainment will produce alongside Zanne Devine for Pacific Northwest Pictures, and Damon D’Oliveira of Filmshow Inc..
Nunavut-based producers include Stacey Aglok MacDonald and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. “Miranda is the perfect choice to tell this hopeful and life affirming story. We have put together a very talented team to support her vision in telling this amazing story about how one man with a simple idea and a sport can save and change lives forever,” Frank Marshall said in his own statement.
Mongrel Media will release The Grizzlies in Canada, and The Movie Network has the Canadian pay TV rights.