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Actors James Corden (from left to right) Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, pose on the rooftop of picture house cinemas in central London during a photo call for the film ‘Begin Again’, July 2. (AP)
FedEx CEO, daughter financing ‘Good Lie’ Levine changes tune in ‘Begin Again’

NEW YORK, July 3, (Agencies): Adam Levine knows pop stars-turned-actors are greeted suspiciously. And he’s hesitant to make any grandiose declarations about suddenly transforming into an actor. But he also can’t help himself.
Following his movie debut in the recently released “Begin Again,” the Maroon 5 frontman is exuberant about a potentially budding movie career.
“It really made me fall in love,” said Levine about “Begin Again” in a recent interview. “It’s the very beginning of something really cool.”
The transition is unusually seamless for Levine in “Begin Again,” a naturalistic indie about musicians in New York by “Once” director John Carney. Levine plays an aspiring musician, the boyfriend to a singer-songwriter played by Keira Knightley. But it’s his breakthrough that’s brought them to New York, and his fast-growing fame pulls the couple apart.


“I had been through that before, maybe not the same version,” says Levine of the tumult of sudden fame. “That’s what connected me to this guy. I immediately understood exactly what needed to be done with this character just based on my life’s experience.”
The 35-year-old Levine grew up in Los Angeles, so acting in movies was, he says, always “somewhere in the back of my mind.” Carney approached him about the film and Levine jumped at the chance, working for little pay.
“I knew that I would try doing it,” he says. “Because of the other wonderful things that have happened in my life and my career, I’d been given the opportunity to try it. I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’m going to try it. I’m not going to not try it.’”
Levine, of course, is familiar with working in front of the camera. Aside from music videos for Maroon 5 and a cameo on “30 Rock,” he’s been a judge on NBC’s “The Voice” since 2011. He also played an arc as a newlywed visiting an insane asylum on FX’s “American Horror Story” in 2012.


Natural
“He’s so confident and he’s such a natural entertainer and he’s very comfortable on camera because he does that show and he’s made lots of music videos,” says Knightley. “He kept claiming he didn’t know what he was doing, but it looked like he knew exactly what he was doing to me.”
Though “Begin Again” represents a more substantial shift into acting for Levine, he drew heavily from his day job.
In one of the film’s most moving scenes, Levine performs the original song “Lost Stars” while Knightley’s character looks on. The song, which Levine wrote with former New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander, will be pushed for an Oscar by the film’s distributor, the Weinstein Co.
“Everything about the things that I experienced while making this movie just felt very real,” says Levine. “It never felt pretend. It always felt like we were making a documentary.”

 It’s nice to have supportive parents, especially in the movie business.
FedEx CEO Fred Smith came to town this week to meet with Warner Bros. marketing chief Sue Kroll to discuss the studio’s fall release of Alcon Entertainment and Black Label Media’s “The Good Lie,” a Reese Witherspoon drama about the Lost Boys of Sudan.
He got on the phone with TheWrap to discuss the project, calling it a fantastic movie.
“The big issue will be the marketing, because it’s an esoteric subject,” he said. “It’s an adult movie, not ‘The Avengers.’”


The entrepreneur and his daughter, producer Molly Smith, have a personal interest in the movie’s subject matter; they helped Lost Boy Joseph Atem after he arrived in the United States.
“One of our daughters met Joseph at church, and he only had the shirt on his back. We try to help a lot of young kids so we helped him go to college, and now he’s a PhD. So yes, it’s personal in that respect,” said Fred Smith, in an exclusive interview with TheWrap on Tuesday.
Molly Smith financed and produced the $17 million movie through her Black Label banner, which will also pick up the film’s marketing and distribution costs using the company’s film fund. Fred Smith said his daughter raised the funds from outside investors along with his equity investment.
The movie has become an all-in-the-family affair. Smith said Alcon, the financing company in which he is a primary investor, will receive a distribution fee for assigning “The Good Lie” one of its release slots via the company’s distribution deal with Warner Bros., which will put the film out on Oct. 3.
Molly Smith used to have a first-look deal at Alcon through Belle Pictures before she elected to start Black Label with Trent and Thad Luckinbill, though she remains a board member at Alcon.


Alcon has sought to minimize its involvement in the wake of up to $30 million in losses from the disappointing performance of Johnny Depp’s big-budget sci fi movie, “Transcendence.” “That was not a good one, that’s for sure,” Fred Smith lamented to TheWrap.
Black Label Media came aboard to finance and produce “The Good Lie” in 2012 after years of inactivity. Margaret Nagle developed the script in the Imagine Writer’s Lab, and Imagine co-chiefs Brian Grazer and Ron Howard produced the movie.
“Some people think there are similarities to ‘The Blind Side’ but I think it’s very different. I’ll be shocked if it’s not very well-received,” Smith boasted. Molly Smith did not respond to requests for comment.
“The Good Lie” is expected to premiere on the fall festival circuit at either Venice or Toronto. The film has been described as a “sweet” crowd-pleaser, the first third of which is set in the Sudan before the action moves to America. A studio insider told TheWrap that executives do not expect “The Good Lie” to be a major awards contender.


The Lost Boys of Sudan is a group of tens of thousands of young men who were displaced by the second Sudanese Civil War during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. The war was resolved by a cease-fire that granted South Sudan autonomy and scheduled a referendum for its independence, which has since occurred.
Philippe Falardeau (“Monsieur Lazhar”) directed the movie, which follows four boys who fled Sudan as violence tore the country apart. After spending years in a refugee camp, they were selected to come to the U.S. and got a new lease on life with a brash American woman (Witherspoon).
 

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