Thursday, 19 October 2017

Video: Gugu Mbatha Raw Loved "Hamilton" Even More the Second Time

Gugu Mbatha Raw Loved "Hamilton" Even More the Second Time

 Published on 18 Aug 2017

"Black Mirror: San Junipero" is streaming now on Netflix. This segment aired on the KTLA 5 Morning News, August 18, 2017.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Video: 69th Emmy Awards: Backstage with the Black Mirror team: San Junipero.

69th Emmy Awards: Backstage LIVE! with the team from Black Mirror: San Junipero.

Published on 17 Sep 2017

Marc Istook speaks with Charlie Brooker and the team from Black Mirror: San Junipero about their Emmys win.

69th Emmys: Black Mirror: San Junipero Press Room Interview

Published on 17 Sep 2017

The team from Black Mirror: San Junipero give a press room interview after their Emmy win for Outstanding
Television Movie.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Is "Delighted" That Queer Women Love "San Junipero"

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Is "Delighted" That Queer Women Love "San Junipero"

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Is "Delighted" That Queer Women Love "San Junipero"

Netflix / Via
In the two weeks since Netflix released Season 3 of Black Mirror, countless tweets and Tumblr posts have been dedicated to the romance between Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) in the fourth episode, titled "San Junipero." (Or, to put it more succinctly, queer women are losing their shit over it.)
Much of the adoration stems from the fact that queer female characters are rarely the romantic leads in mainstream popular culture and they are even more infrequently given truly happy endings. Oh, and "San Junipero" also features a bisexual woman of color whose bisexuality is overtly — and refreshingly — addressed.
"I'm just so delighted by the response," Gugu Mbatha-Raw told BuzzFeed News during an interview for her upcoming movie Miss Sloane. "It's really fun, but I like the fact it has that duality of something that's emotional but also transcends the labeling of society."
In her eyes, the reason Kelly and Yorkie's arc works so well is because Black Mirror writer Charlie Brooker didn't set out to tell a story about queer women; he set out to tell a story about the connection between two people. "The exciting thing is the ... women just happen to be lesbian and bisexual — they just happen to be that, but it's not about that," Mbatha-Raw said. "For me, I think the same thing about stories that touch on race or gender. I think we're hopefully at a place where you can have challenging, inspiring stories about human beings regardless of who you are and what your sexual orientation is. To be able to have that is progress, I hope."
Laurie Sparham / Netflix
While she wanted people of all orientations to fall as deeply in love with Kelly and Yorkie as she did, it's caught Mbatha-Raw off guard that some viewers don't necessarily believe the ending is a happy one. (Spoiler alert: After they die, Kelly and Yorkie live together for youthful eternity in the titular town.) "I guess it depends on your perspective," she said with a shrug. "Having that kind of afterlife— maybe some people would find that disturbing. I don't know. That's the complexity of Charlie Booker's writing and his genius. It's nice to work on things that have many layers to them."
When asked if she personally believes the women are living happily ever after, Mbatha-Raw laughed big, smiled bigger, and said, "Oh my god, come on!"

These TV Shows Are Finally Giving Queer Women Happy Endings

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The story of San Junipero: why Charlie Brooker's Emmy-winning vision of Heaven will live forever

Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in San Junipero

In January 2015 the humourist Mallory Ortberg summed up Charlie Brooker’s tech-anthology series Black Mirror as “What if phones, but more so?”. The science fiction show focuses on how high technology and low entertainment can magnify our flaws and destroy our relationships.
We greet innovation with open arms, says Brooker, only to find ourselves embracing disaster. But among the cynicism, one episode offers a more optimistic outlook, and that is two-time Emmy winner San Junipero.
The episode was hailed as a classic immediately for the way that it combines Black Mirror’s trademark futuristic vision with a beautifully told love story. And, unique in Black Mirror history, it offers a happy ending. Here, the machine that gives the story its science-fiction edge doesn’t destroy our humanity; it offers a sort of mechanical heaven for its users.
That was a deliberate break from the norm for creator and writer Charlie Brooker; an attempt, he told Vanity Fair, to “upend the notion of what a Black Mirror episode was”. It was the first episode Brooker wrote for Netflix after the show left Channel 4, and he didn’t want to be predictably nihilistic, nor settle into too strict a formula.
So San Junipero became a “palate cleanser”, a reinvention that offered a different vision of what the show could do. It was Black Mirror’s first period piece, its first American-set story and the first one to show more than a tiny glimpse of hope for the future. Yet at the same time it packs in enough philosophy and nuance - and enough gut punches - to avoid any suggestion that Brooker has gone soft.
San Junipero’s initial spark came to Brooker from two clashing ideas. The first was tackling the question of how Black Mirror could possibly do a period-set episode. Brooker wanted to subvert expectations of viewers expecting a focus on new phones or computer programmes.
Mackenzie Davis in San Junipero
Yet time travel per se is too far-fetched for the show’s relatively grounded tone. The answer he landed upon was to set his story in an immense and convincing simulation, one that’s more advanced than existing virtual reality software but not impossibly out of reach.
At the same time, Brooker read about nostalgia therapy, a promising treatment for anxiety and even dementia. The therapy uses happy memories and recreations of the past to alleviate current suffering, which sounds counter intuitive but has proved effective.
Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker accepting one of his two Emmys for San Junipero CREDIT: REUTERS
“It’s kind of unusual that we’d approach a story from a relatively dry starting point like that,” he said of the process. “Usually we’re starting just with a dilemma.”
Yet that dry start led to Black Mirror’s most emotional episode. The period setting gave Brooker the simulation; the nostalgia therapy peopled it with the dead and dying, escaping to a better place for a few hours.
Thus the two heroines are not what they seem. Mousy, shy Yorkie (Halt & Catch Fire’s Mackenzie Davis) and flamboyant, fascinating Kelly (Belle’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw) meet in a 1980s club in a small California holiday town by the sea and hit it off.
Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
The twist is that both have already lived for decades and are now approaching a crunch point. Will they die and leave their consciousness in San Junipero permanently, or continue to make only brief visits until the end?
Yorkie, whose character has been in a coma for 40 years in the real world, is ready to rush in. But Kelly – a widow and bereaved mother in reality (played by Denise Burse, who worked closely with Mbatha-Raw to make Kelly feel consistent across the decades) – is hesitant.
“It’s that thing of taking an 80-year-old voice and transporting them back to the time of their youth, but where attitudes have changed,” executive producer Annabel Jones explains. “It’s not just go back and live your life again, but go back and live your life through different attitudes and different social norms, which is fascinating.”
The result is an emotional and, at least until we realise it’s a simulation, not obviously science fiction story. Only on a second viewing does the viewer pick up on all the verbal clues that something isn’t quite as it seems. A surfer dude droning on about his operations might not have been injured while getting radical after all; perhaps he’s old and sick. A nerdy guy talks about video games in the past tense rather than the present, suggesting that time travel element. There are unexplained casual remarks about “full timers” and a Cinderella-like midnight deadline. And we miss the clues initially because the love story holds our attention.
Though Brooker originally conceived the story with a heterosexual couple, he thought twice about his own assumptions and decided to make his lovers women. “I think it gives it an extra resonance,” he told EW, “because they couldn’t have legally got married in [the real] 1987, so we’re gifting them that in this world, in this story of second chances. That adds a whole extra subtext about reliving your life and exploring things you didn’t have a chance to do.”
Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
“It’s about human beings and love and souls,” says Mbatha-Raw. “And it’s not about [sexuality] being a problem. That wasn’t the focus of the story and I think that’s actually really refreshing.” 
The upbeat tone also moves the show away from the “dead lesbians” TV trope, where a disproportionate number of lesbian characters are killed off tragically onscreen (Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lexa in The 100 are notorious examples). Brooker conceived the happy ending partially to subvert that trope – though technically both characters do die to achieve their idyll.
The film shot in and around Cape Town, which episode director Owen Harris says allowed him to “create a version of California that felt slightly heightened because of this slightly strange quality.
"That heightened feel is only emphasised by the on-the-nose use of Belinda Carlisle’s hit Heaven Is A Place On Earth – a song the production cleared before doing anything else. “I would have been absolutely distraught if we couldn’t have done it,” Brooker said of Carlisle’s song.
Denise Burse and Annabel Davis as the elder Yorkie and Kelly
“It’s also a wry joke in a way, that heaven is literally a place on earth, as we reveal the absolute cold reality of what’s going on [where the womens’ minds are now stored in tiny data clips and moved around by robots]. Hopefully it leaves people with a smile on their face, which is an alien experience after watching Black Mirror.”
One has to wonder, as that robot tends the San Junipero databank, whether the ending is entirely uncomplicated in its happiness. Even Davis said, “I think it is joyful, but there’s all these little undercurrents communicating that there’s darkness under this joy.”
Fans have wondered if the plane seen flying overhead in the final scene means that there are other parts of the San Junipero world that consciousnesses can visit, and how wide a world the simulation offers. But the deeper questions are even bigger. Does San Junipero play host to true consciousness or just a simulacrum of it after death?
Like Hugh Jackman’s Robert Angier in The Prestige, are we watching the survival of a copy or the real thing? Maybe the entire promise of ‘survival’ is just a sop to ease the distress of the dying. And what does San Junipero mean for religious believers? Might they embrace it as a guaranteed afterlife or see it as a threat? The philosophical implications are endless, and barely developed. No wonder there are calls for a sequel.
Harris, who has worked with Brooker twice now, advises that fans be careful what they wish for, saying “Charlie Brooker might not want to do two happy endings!" Yet Brooker himself has considered it.
“I think we almost might do it in a completely different form if we were doing a straight sequel,” he said. “Maybe not even as a normal episode. It’s difficult because I don’t think we’d revisit those characters. That felt like such a story and we wouldn’t want to open it up again.”
Such reticence comes as a relief. Black Mirror has never been hesitant about showing lives ruined by technology, but surely Yorkie and Kelly, at least, should be allowed to survive in their private little heaven. As its awards success shows, their story gives us all hope.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Black Mirror Stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis Shine at Emmys 2017

Black Mirror Stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis Shine at Emmys 2017

Black Mirror Stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis Shine at Emmys 2017
Gugu Mbatha-Raw shimmers on the red carpet as she arrives at the 2017 Emmy Awards held at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday (September 17) in Los Angeles.
The 34-year-old actress was joined on the red carpet by her Black Mirror co-star Mackenzie Davis who went bold in a bright green dress.
Black Mirror is nominated for Outstanding Television Movie at tonight’s awards show.
FYI: Mackenzie is wearing a Delpozodress, Tiffany ring, Anito Ko earrings, and Nicolas Kirkwood heels while carrying a Tyler Ellis clutch. Gugu is wearing a Hugo Boss dress
and Fernando Jorge jewelry.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

First photo of Gugu at the Emmys 2017

#EMMYS2017  Always the sweet feeling when your long time client in great project being recognized and nominated after all the hard work πŸŽ¬πŸ†✨✨✨ The talented and one of the hardest working in the biz ( always on sets going from one project to the next ✌πŸ½πŸ’ƒπŸΎπŸŽ¬) The star of #BlackMirror  #SanJunipero  the darling Gugu Mbatha-Raw off to the Emmys in Jason Wu custom gown. ✨✨✨ @netflix 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

‘Black Mirror’ stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis On Immersive Sci-Fi Sets And Socially Important Storytelling

‘Black Mirror’ stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Mackenzie Davis On Immersive Sci-Fi Sets And Socially Important Storytelling
DeadlineMatt Grobar · Aug 24, 2017
The only episode of Netflix anthology seriesBlack Mirror ever to offer a happy ending, “San Junipero” has been widely celebrated by both critics and the viewing public since its release last year, as a socially important and otherwise enrapturing piece of art. Starring Gugu-Mbatha Raw and Mackenzie Davis, the episode—nominated for two Emmys, including Outstanding Television Movie—centers on a budding romantic relationship between two young women in a virtual reality dreamscape.
While the episode’s stars have since gone on to major genre blockbusters—including Blade Runner 2049A Wrinkle in Time and Cloverfield Movie, “San Junipero” remains a fond memory for the actresses, and a one-of-a-kind television experience. Speaking with Deadline, the pair discuss their first experiences with Black Mirror, the immersive experience of shooting on sci-fi sets, as well as entertainment’s increasing ability to engender societal change.
Can you recall your first experience with Black Mirror, and the feelings it evoked in you?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw:  I had not seen Black Mirror before reading the “San Junipero” script, so that was my first experience. I obviously heard about it, but I just wasn’t cool enough to have watched it. Then, I went and watched “Be Right Back,” because our episode is directed by Owen Harris, who also did that one, and I loved it. That one particularly reminded me of Roald Dahl and Tales of the Unexpected, which I loved when I was a little girl—“Lamb to the Slaughter” and those really dark, twisted short stories. That was how I got into it, but I honestly didn’t know really until later how different our episode was, tonally, to the bulk of the other Black Mirrors.
Mackenzie Davis: Mine was such a Revenant experience that I’ve never had with something else. My friend had pirated it off the internet—nobody had cable, and we watched it in my friend’s living room in Brooklyn, lights out, under blankets.
It was the very first episode, and it was like the first time you watched Twin Peaks, where you were like, “What?!” I didn’t know that TV could be like this. It felt like a totally new form. I think we watched the first two episodes that night, which was the pig fucking episode and The pig fucking one was disturbing—upsetting—but it was great. It felt so correct in so many ways.
“The Entire History of You” felt really unnerving and was that Black Mirrorhallmark of it being right on the liminal edge of where we are now.
Given that story clues unfold throughout the episode, what was the experience like, reading the script? How much was broadcast to the reader up front?
Mbatha-Raw: The songs were in the script, I guess in the hope that they would get the rights to use them all. I actually read Charlie’s script for the first time on my iPhone on a bus in London, from Oxford Circus to Brixton. I was going to read the first few pages, and I ended up reading the whole thing. It’s very specific—the dialogue leapt out of the page and seemed so vivacious. I know that I’m reading a good script when I start saying the words out loud to my character. I was trying not to do that on the bus. I just got so drawn into it and I remember instantly thinking, Yeah, this is special.
Davis: All of those clues were in there. I don’t think I picked up on most of them.
Mbatha-Raw: Me neither.
Davis: There’s so much research that’s gone into Black Mirror since all of the episodes have come out, where people uncover stuff and I’m like, “So that’s what that is!”
Mbatha-Raw: There’s a double meaning.
Davis: I don’t know until other people tell me.
How was the experience, shooting in South Africa for the episode?
Mbatha-Raw: Cape Town is just so beautiful. It’s a complex place, South Africa in general, but certainly for what we were doing with “San Junipero,” pretty much everything was shot at night, or dusk. All the exteriors were night, so you get to South Africa and suddenly it’s like, Okay, now you’re just going to be awake all night.
Davis: Remember when we’d be up at like 5 a.m. on that rooftop, and the call to prayer would echo out?
Mbatha-Raw: Oh, that was so magical!
Davis: I remember asking about why they were shooting in South Africa, and they were like, “We wanted someplace that was almost too beautiful to be real.” Remember the day that we did the cliff stuff?
Mbatha-Raw: Oh yeah, in Camps Bay.
Davis: Our trailers were set up along this cliff, and it was still daytime…
Mbatha-Raw: In Camps Bay High School. It was like, How do you live your life if you go to school here with this view?
Davis: You opened your trailer door, and it looked like a green screen. You were like, “That’s fake. That’s not a real thing.”
What stood out to you about Charlie Brooker as a series creator?
Mbatha-Raw: He’s so smart, and I think him and [executive producer] Annabel Jones really create the vision for these stories. I think he trusted Owen, and the script was so complete. I think in the shooting process, I saw Charlie once or twice.
It was sort of done, and he was busy with the rest of the series, but I think he has such a unique point of view and that very sarcastic, dark wit that I think is very British. He has a very familiar energy for me with that sort of style.
Davis: He’s very cool, Charlie. You want to hang out with him and laugh. It’s kind of intimidating, where you’re like, “Oh, the cool guy’s around.”
Mbatha-Raw: He’s a genius best mate, someone you could just hang with.
Davis: He’s got it together. We shot our episode first out of this new run of Black Mirror episodes, so I think when ours started, they had a lot to focus on other than us. He really seemed to step back and let Owen take the reigns, and we saw Annabel quite a bit more. She was in South Africa with us, and they’re quite a crack team.
How did you both find a way into characters whose direct experience is so far removed from your own?
Mbatha-Raw: Certainly for me with Kelly, it was important to not play the ending at the beginning, playing somebody who is really aggressively wanting to have fun, and to not to make her superficial, because you know in the writing that there are layers to come. The shiny stuff actually gives you a bigger arc for the rest of her backstory. I got to read a little bit with Denise Burse, who plays Elder Kelly—Owen got us to read each other’s lines to each other, just to get a feel for each other’s energy.
Beyond that, it really was just tapping into what that might be like. It was always fascinating to me: How old is your soul? You can have somebody who is 100 years old, but has that twinkle in their eye, and you can have somebody who’s 14 and so over life. I think it’s about how old your soul is, and tapping into that was really helpful for me.
Davis: Yorkie had an easier route into her—there’s a physicality and a newness to everything that I found kind of an easy way to get into her. Everything was new, and she was touching things and using parts of her body that she hadn’t felt in a long time. Then, that heightened second level of marveling at the expertise with which this world was captured, so that not only did it look like it was raining, and it felt like it was raining. When she put her foot out, the room would touch her skin, and she could feel it. There was such an unreality to it.
Also, there’s pressure to not be who you were in the past, and to take advantage of this opportunity. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a coma for 40 years—I don’t know a lot of aspects of her thing—but I know certain feelings and physicalities and ways into her that made sense to me.
Is the episode’s sense of nostalgia something that resonates with you personally? There’s quite a lot of nostalgia in television today.
Davis: Because our generation’s making content now, so they’re all looking at their childhoods.
Mbatha-Raw: Yeah, I think so. For me, the music was just such a way in because the songs are so iconic. You still hear those songs all the time, and I think it really does take you to a place. I was really young in the ‘80s, but I still feel like it’s fun to have that fascination with all the superficial things like the clothes, the fashions, the hair.
Davis: Once we got into the ‘90s, where you were dressed like Ciara or something, then I felt really at home. I definitely had those glasses when I was 12—those small ovals that do nothing for a face.
Mbatha-Raw: The combat trousers.
Davis: Oh, and I had a little Nokia that I could play Snake on.
Can you talk a bit about the social relevance of “San Junipero” at our present moment in time?
Mbatha-Raw: I think it’s amazing. I’m really proud to be a part of it. I also think it’s a really optimistic episode, and I think we need optimism and hope, now more than ever. Celebrating love in all its forms is great, and I think it’s the world we’re in. I think it’s great that it’s a positive love story. Its not tragic or problematic, it’s joyful.
Davis: I think it is joyful, but there’s all these little undercurrents communicating that there’s darkness under this joy. The reason these women are in this place, the reason they’re even doing this experiment, is because our culture that wouldn’t accept them. I think that now, more than ever, it feels more relevant to be making movies and television, because it’s this populist opportunity to tell stories about people that don’t get their stories told, to have people be forced to empathize with people they wouldn’t empathize with, just because that’s the main character and you’re following their journey, and it manipulates you into seeing their point of view.
I think there’s many ways that our business can operate—it can be wonderful and frivolous, and it can be awful and put really dark things into the world, but it has this capacity to be this engine for social change. I hope that’s the space that we start to occupy, more and more.
The two of you have upcoming credits including Blade Runner 2049,Cloverfield Movie and A Wrinkle in Time. What has it been like to inhabit these kinds of heightened worlds for more prolonged periods?
Davis: I will say that the most immersive sets I’ve been on have been sci-fi, the sets where you’ve walked in and turned around and not been able to see where the set ends. It’s cool—there’s so much imagining that goes on when you’re an actor. It’s not like you couldn’t do your job unless you’re in an enclosed room where everything is real. It just adds this extra level of immersion that’s really satisfying to play with.
To be able to touch a button or engage with a prop, and it exists, and to walk from one room to the other, I think it does a really good, healthy, immersive mind trick for the whole production where you’re like, “We’re in this thing, we’re in this pod.” It creates a bit more gravity to the thing, and I really love that feeling.
Mbatha-Raw: I think it’s a different challenge, doing those bigger movies with potential green screen and wirework and all of that stuff. I think it takes more of your imagination. When you have those scenarios, it really is taking you back to that childhood thing of, “Let’s pretend.” I love it. It’s only when you’re done that you get to feel more like an audience member, even though you were there. “That wasn’t quite like how it was on the day, but I love it!” That’s fascinating. You realize how epic and collaborative these things are.