Summer Movie Preview: Stars to Watch

Some are newcomers. Some are former child stars reintroducing themselves into adult roles. And one is a comedian making the leap to the big screen. These are just a few of the actors set to make a splash this summer in movies:


How familiar you are with Austin Butler will likely have a lot to do with your age. For a certain demographic, Butler, who starred on Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, CW and ABC Family shows between 2007 and 2012, is one of the most recognizable faces on the planet.

But Butler is set to take it to a different level this summer when audiences get a glimpse of the 30-year-old as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s new production which hits theaters June 24. To say his preparation was intense is an understatement.: He spent five months working with Luhrmann before he was even officially offered the role (which, by the way, was the day before the premiere of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, where he steals several scenes in as a disciple of Manson).

“I threw my eggs in a basket,” Butler said. “I told my agents not to even send me another audition. I said I couldn’t focus on anything else. It would have been such a shame if I hadn’t had it after I invested so much.

The film revolves around Presley’s complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks. When Butler arrived in Australia for filming, a typewriter with a note from Colonel Tom Parker (both from Hanks) was waiting for him in his room. And throughout the production, they were sending each other letters, in type.

“From the moment I first met him, he broke down the barriers of this thing that can happen when you meet your hero,” Butler said. “He gave me a big hug, we talked for a bit and then he started talking about his fears, how nervous he was. He said, ‘I can only imagine how nervous you are! I said, ‘I’m terrified.’ And then we became colleagues.

And yes, Butler kept the typewriter.


Keke Palmer started performing at the age of 9 and several years later had her first big break with “Akeelah and the Bee”. She’s released music albums, hosted talk shows, and worked pretty much non-stop ever since. So while she’s by no means a newcomer, Palmer is also set for a second big moment this summer as an adult actor.

The 28-year-old has been cast by Jordan Peele to star alongside Daniel Kaluuya in his new secret thriller ‘Nope’ (July 22) and has a starring role in Disney’s ‘Lightyear’ (June 17) which she says , is particularly surreal. and fun since growing up with the “Toy Story” movies.

Palmer can’t reveal anything about “No”, but she teased that her character is “a combination of two different archetypes” and “a very honest character who evolves in front of us and comes of age”. As an aspiring writer-director herself, she loved having the chance to learn from Peele on set and is thrilled for people to see the film. The star of a Jordan Peele production is a new sensation for her.

“The space in my career that I’m in, that I’m totally comfortable with, is that I’m the kind of artist where it’s like some people grew up with me and other people are like who the hell is Keke Palmer?” she laughs. “With Jordan it just gives me the opportunity for people to see what I can do and for those who grew up with me to see how I grew up, and for those who have never heard of me, introduce me through this and maybe have fun going back and seeing where I came from.


Andrew Koji has his mum to thank for his two biggest breaks yet. It was she who filmed her auditions, in the garage in England, for the TV show “Warrior” and “Bullet Train”, which opens on July 29.

“Bullet Train” is one of the summer’s most anticipated releases: an action-packed thriller from director David Leitch (“Deadpool 2”) starring Brad Pitt, Joey King, Bad Bunny, Bryan Tyree Henry, Sandra Bullock and Koji.

He was already excited about the project and was working with Leitch, then he heard that Pitt had also signed on.

“It was surreal because I never really put him and me in the same world,” Koji wrote in an email. “I never thought my career path would ever intersect with his.”

Koji plays Kimura, one of the original characters in Kōtarō Isaka’s popular book.

“He goes through a lot when we first meet him, and it gets worse for him throughout the movie. He is a troubled and broken soul, who gets on the train in search of redemption,” Koji said. “It’s meant to be more at the dramatic core of the film to play up and balance the more comedic, lighthearted tones and characters.”

Although Koji has a background in martial arts, he didn’t really have to rely on those skills for “Bullet Train.” But he had to keep his stamina.

“I ended up having this full day shooting two different scenes, side by side. I was going back and forth from 2nd unit, working on an intense fight…to a different scene from the main unit working on a scene emotional with Hiroyuki,” Koji said. “It was a real rush, I loved that day. It was one of my favorite days on set.


A Netflix comedy special is always bound to attract a lot of viewers and maybe even create some new opportunities. But comedian Jo Koy never imagined that one of them would come from Steven Spielberg.

The story, says Koy, is that Spielberg overheard “Comin’ in Hot” one night and asked Koy to pitch a movie idea. Fortunately, he had something in mind: a family comedy, loosely inspired by his own Filipino American family, reunited for a vacation. The result is “Easter Sunday” (August 5) in which he stars alongside Lou Diamond Phillips, Tia Carrere and Tiffany Haddish.

“It’s about a family and it’s all chaos and madness and love on the same Easter Sunday,” Koy said. “It’s a normal family in America. It’s something you’ve seen before. The only difference is that my mother is from the Philippines.

Growing up without the internet, he said, he was never completely sure if anyone he saw on screen was Filipino. Often they played different races and ethnicities and their names in the credits were usually not much help. That’s part of the reason he wanted to show an explicitly Filipino story. And it was a moving experience for many. Some of the actors even told him that in three decades of work, they had never played a character written as Filipino before, instead of just “Asian woman who can sing” for example.

“You will learn a little more about our culture. You will learn a bit more about what we eat, what we look like,” he said. “I’m not here to make fun of Filipinos. I’m not trying to make them do stupid things or be clowns. It was an opportunity to tell our story, to be funny as a family and to make people laugh. »


Writer-director-actor Cooper Raiff is just 25 and already has two independent darlings under his belt. His first was made on a shoestring budget and garnered attention on the festival circuit. But his second feature “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (on Apple TV+ June 17) is about to take it to another level. In the film, he plays a recent college graduate working as a party starter on the Bar Mitzvah circuit, where he meets and befriends a single mother played by Dakota Johnson.

“I wanted to make a movie about that feeling when you’re floating in post-college delirium and two people helping each other become strong at two very different stages of their lives,” Raiff said. “He’s a kid who’s really good at starting other people’s parties but doesn’t know where to start when it comes to starting his own party.”

Johnson was intimately involved in developing the script and directing the film, which was made through her production company TeaTime Pictures..

“She really wanted to be a part of things every step of the way and I’m dying for that,” Raiff said. “I really felt like she wanted to work together, even when we were arguing about blocking or where the scene was going or what she was really saying.”

Raiff is currently working on his next, even bigger movie. But this time, he said, he’ll likely stay behind the camera.


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