With the kickoff of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, almost as many A-listers are heading to Park City, Utah as industry newcomers. The fest has always been a place for established actors and filmmakers to branch out and go indie for a movie or two.
We’ve looked over the scheduled screenings and rounded up a list of some of the celebrity attendees and the projects they’re representing at Sundance this year.
“The Hobbit” director Jackson is stepping out of Middle-earth and into Park City to support “West of Memphis,” a new documentary he produced about the West Memphis Three. The doc chronicles the convictions of teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley for the 1993 killings of three boys in Arkansas, unearths new evidence implicating a different suspect in the killings, and follows through to the August 2011 release of the three men after 18 years in prison. Jackson and his producing partner Fran Walsh were actively involved in the effort to prove Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley’s innocence.
Krasinski is no stranger to the streets of Park City, having taken his directorial debut “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” to Sundance in 2009. He returns this year as a actor in “Nobody Walks,” where he plays a husband and father tempted by the woman staying in his pool house, played by Olivia Thirlby. “The Office” star has always maintained his fair share of indie cred, and with “Nobody Walks,” he’s becoming a more and more familiar face at the festival.
One of Hollywood’s most legendary actors has lost some his esteemed in recent years. (He was in “New Year’s Eve,” afterall.) But there’s no place like Sundance to earn some of that back. He’ll star in “Red Lights,” director Rodrigo Cortés’ follow-up to his 2010 festival favorite, “Buried.” The film follows a psychologist who investigates paranormal activity and a world-renowned psychic. DeNiro leads an all-star cast that includes Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy and Elizabeth Olsen.
Occasionally, you’ll find a Sundance entry with an A-list cast that rivals most major studio releases. Bradley Cooper leads a cast that includes Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde and Dennis Quaid in “The Words,” a drama about the fallout after a writer claims the work of another as his own. The movie will represent a significant change of pace for Cooper, Wilde and Saldana who have made names for themselves recently with big budget studio pictures.
Dunst experienced somewhat of a career boost last year on the festival circuit with “Melancholia,” and at Sundance this year, she’ll look to start a hot streak with “Bachelorette.” The film also stars Isla Fisher and Lizzie Caplan and sounds from most descriptions like a darker version of last year’s wedding party hit, “Bridesmaids.” Dunst drew some serious awards talk with “Melancholia,” so this may be the next step back to the top.
The former “High School Musical” star has spent the last few years attempting to re-establish himself as a legitimate leading man with roles in “Charlie St. Cloud” and “The Lucky One.” So Sundance seems like the natural place to go for that kind of career move. Efron will star alongside Sundance-breakout Elizabeth Olsen and writer-director Josh Radnor in “Liberal Arts.” The movie follows a college professor who falls from one of his much younger students.
One of the pioneers of modern-day independent film returns to Sundance with a movie in the vein of the ones that made him famous. “Red Hook Summer” brings Lee back to Brooklyn, the setting of his monumental “Do the Right Thing.” But Brooklyn isn’t the only character returning from “Do the Right Thing.” Lee’s character Mookie is making an appearance as well.