Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Is Chloe Bailey campaigning to play X-Men’s Storm? After the singer dressed as the superhero for Halloween, she earned all sorts of support on social media, including a message on Twitter from the original Storm, Halle Berry, exclaiming, “She’s taking it.” “I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, and she’s my favorite one, so you can fill in the blanks,” Bailey tells me. “She is just so fierce and sexy and strong — all of the things I want to be — and she’s beautiful at the same time. And she doesn’t take any shit.” Funnily enough, Bailey’s sister, Halle, told me in September at D23 that she’d also love to play Storm.
Steven Spielberg promised himself he wouldn’t get verklempt while making “The Fabelmans,” his semi-autobiographical drama starring Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as his mom and dad. “I told them when we started shooting I needed to create for myself what they call ‘aesthetic distance’ between me as a filmmaker and their performances representing my parents and my family,” Spielberg told me at the movie’s AFI Fest premiere. “I was not going to be emotional about it, [but] I lost it the first day.
“I just saw Michelle dressed as my mom and looking like my mom and Paul looking like my dad,” Spielberg explained. “It was an interesting moment that I wasn’t expecting.”
Early in his career, “American Horror Story: NYC” star Russell Tovey was advised not only not to come out as gay but that he should do something about his ears! “Someone said to me, ‘If you want to make it in Hollywood, you’ve got to pin your ears back,’” the actor tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “And I remember being like, ‘They’re my trademark!’ I’ve never had an issue with my ears. I’ve been called all the names under the sun — Dumbo, takeoff, a car with the doors left open, a shoebox with wings.
“We’ve been filming [‘AHS’] in Dumbo in Brooklyn recently, and I found it quite trig- gering because it takes me back to being called Dumbo at school. But anyway, when that person told me that, I knew — I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m not going to do that.’”
Marlo Thomas played the mother of Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) on “Friends” for only a few episodes, but it’s one of the projects from her decadeslong career that she is most often asked about. “I did about five or six of them,” Thomas tells me while promoting her new Hallmark holiday movie, “A Magical Christmas Village.” “It was a lot of fun. That cast was wonderful.”
Her favorite memory was a sight gag of her kissing Matt LeBlanc. In the scene, Rachel is trying to prevent her divorced parents from seeing each other when they visit her apartment at the same time. “We’re about to run into each other, and Joey grabs me and kisses me. I went limp in his arms like I hadn’t been kissed like that in 100 years. It was very funny,” Thomas recalls.
They never locked lips during rehearsals. “Matt was so cute because when we were going to shoot it, he said, ‘I’m really sorry, Marlo, but I am going to have to kiss you now for real,” Thomas says. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll try to live through it.’”
In “A Magical Christmas Village,” Thomas plays a free-spirited woman who moves in with her straightlaced daughter Summer, played by Alison Sweeney. In what is expected to be his final appearance in a Hallmark holiday film, “Bros” star Luke Macfarlane plays the new guy in town who happens to fall for — you guessed it! — Summer.
The movie marks a rare on-camera performance by Thomas. “It was a good script,” Thomas says. “And it’s about families and different generations. Like my grandmother, she was a wild woman. At 70, she had a white Cadillac with leopard-print seats. Nobody had a grandmother like that. She played the drums at a beer garden in Pasadena.”
Thomas says she’d love to do more television and film work if she could find scripts like “A Magical Christmas Village.” “I would do 10 movies if they were like that, but they’re not,” she says. “The scripts I read are either very earnest without much humor or they end up with somebody dying, especially when you get to my age. I’m reading them and I’m like, ‘Oh, God, please don’t kill her off. She’s such a good character.’ But then she dies at the end.”
Interesting fun fact, Thomas says she and her husband of more than 40 years, Phil Donahue, had been approached multiple times over the years to co-host a radio or TV talk show. However, Thomas says, they’re both too type A for it to work. “We thought we wouldn’t get along,” she says with a laugh. “We might even kill each other.”
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