Breaking Baz: Party On Down With Snoop Dogg, Donna Langley, Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Cillian Murphy And The ‘Oppenheimer’ Gang At The Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Soiree At Sunset Tower

Albert Einstein had his theory of relativity, and Breaking Baz has his theory of party lift-off.

Friday night at the Universal filmed entertainment soiree, the moment of fusion came when Snoop Dogg hit the room at the Sunset Tower and was immediately embraced by Oppenheimer stars Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh.

No wait. Surely, it was when Blunt took Robert Downey Jr. in her arms and a giddy little waltz ensued.

Maybe the right molecular vibe kicked in when Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan arrived with Emma Thomas, its producer, and they fell into a lively conversation with Cillian Murphy and Downey Jr. 

Perhaps it was when Colman Domingo sauntered in, resplendent in red. He stars in Netflix movie Rustin and WB’s The Color Purple, neither of them linked to Universal. Didn’t matter a jot. The warmth of the welcome for him was palpable. “I’m happy to be here,” he tells me. I should’ve introduced him to Oppenheimer costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, who looked pretty in pink.

“It’s just a lovely party,” Blunt enthused as she and Pugh exclaimed over the bustier’s they were wearing. Not sure that actor and filmmaker Alex Wolff and I should’ve been observing this, but, well, whatever. One goes with the flow when a party is fully in swing. 

More often than not, you can have a gathering of the best people at an event and it can fall flat. Deadly dull. Not this one. 

It’s the end of a long week, it’s Friday night and people are in the right mood to let their hair down, theorized Daniel Pemberton, the British composer for Slow Horses and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

I heard someone suggest to Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures and Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and chief content officer, that this is the Donna-verse. But she wasn’t having that. As she remarked later, “We’d have nothing to toast to tonight without the creative genius of the singular filmmakers who choose to make Universal their home. Thank you for gifting us the privilege to blast your stories out into the world .”

Citing  the success of Oppenheimer, The Holdovers, The Super Mario Bros Movie, and others, Langley observed that “perhaps the most amazing thing about our accomplishments this past year is that we can’t chalk it up to one outsized success. .Between Universal,Focus features, Illumination, and DreamWorks Animation, there was something every audience could love … and they did.”

There was much to love in the room,that’s for sure.

Alexander Payne huddled with The Holdovers cast members Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa; folk gathered around Dwayne Johnson, who, for a moment, was almost unrecognizable in his specs. He was smiling and happy. Maybe not so much later on in the night, when a limo clipped his beast of a car in the Sunset Tower’s drive.

I digress.

Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford held court near the pool area.

At one point, there was such a crush of famous faces in that area that lyrics from the song Bobby and Jackie and Jack from Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Merrily We Roll Along, came to mind. “And later, when everything’s cool, we’ll push them all into the pool.”

Thank heavens that didn’t happen.

Nonetheless, out of a sense of safety, I drifted away from the pool and over to Florence Pugh, who tells me that it’s ten years since director Carol Morley’s film The Falling screened at the BFI London Film Festival. “Can you believe it!” Pugh says, flabbergasted.

I can remember, though, seeing an early screening of The Falling because I had my eye on interviewing another actor in it. At the end of the film, a bit over-excited, the words “I want to interview her!” escaped from my mouth as Pugh’s name rolled on the credits.

Pugh and her mother happened to be seated nearby, and I got my interview.

Fast forward a decade and Pugh tells me that Dune: Part Two is in theaters March 1, and she’s gearing up to shoot the Marvel film Thunderbolts, reprising her Yelena Belova role. Following that, Pugh will play treacherous Cathy Ames in a tv miniseries based on John Steinbeck’s East of Eden for Netflix. 

Pugh notes that Steinbeck’s novel is being adapted and executive produced by Zoe Kazan, whose paternal grandfather, Elia Kazan, directed the 1955 movie version that starred James Dean and Jo Van Fleet in the part Pugh’s taking on.

Emily Blunt was back in L.A., having been at the Golden Globes last Sunday. She then scooted home to NYC to her children, and returned here for Friday’s AFI luncheon, Saturday’s BAFTA Tea Party, and Sunday’s 29th annual Critics Choice Awards.

I love the primal ferocity of Blunt’s portrayal of the biologist Kitty Oppenheimer, Robert Oppenheimer’s wife in Oppenheimer. She doesn’t suffer fools, and I can’t get enough of how she displays that quality. “I ran towards this role,” Blunt tells me.

Blunt deserves a spot on the Academy’s Best Supporting Actress ballot, alongside Da’Vine Joy Randolph and The Color Purple’s Danielle Brooks.   

Pauline Kael wrote about how some movies left her feeling giddy with excitement. 

Me, too. But I’m also a bit shallower than that. I can criss-cross a party room and feel deep in my soul in fifteen seconds – I don’t need fifteen minutes- whether or not I want to stay – or escape.

Reader: I knew in five seconds, yes, five, that the Universal bash would leave me giddy.

Einstein would’ve been happy, too.

Oh, and I hope Alex Wolff found his wallet and cell phone?! Quelle horreur!

He still looked happy, though.


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