Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
It’s not every day that an action movie stars an 80-year- old. But leave it to octogenarian Harrison Ford to return as Indiana Jones in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” the fifth installment of the iconic franchise.
While moviegoers may be surprised to see Ford return four decades after making the first film, the actor has long felt he’d be back. “I always wanted to do it,” he told me at the premiere of his Apple TV+ comedy series “Shrinking.” “I wanted to do the rest of the story to see the end of his career.”
But even Ford has his limits. He insists he’s hung up Indy’s fedora and bullwhip for good: “It’s the last time for me.”
Speaking of franchises, are we getting closer to seeing another “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie? Super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer says a seventh film is still in development and will probably be female-led. “It looks that way right now,” he told me at AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards. Margot Robbie was once in talks to star, but she told Vanity Fair in December that the project was no longer moving ahead… Also at AARP, Sheryl Lee Ralph told me that Rihanna sent her a gift box ahead of the Super Bowl. RiRi is the big game’s half-time headliner on Feb. 12, and the “Abbott Elementary” star will be performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during the pre-show. “I didn’t open it because I’m waiting for tomorrow because I like an unboxing,” Ralph said.
On this week’s upcoming episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast, I sit down with Jay Shetty, the self-help guru and life coach who officiated Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s August wedding. He did the same for Lily Collins and filmmaker Charlie McDowell in 2021.
Shetty, the host of the “On Purpose” health and wellness podcast, just released his book “8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go.” He says Hollywood is partially to blame for people’s unrealistic and fantastical ideas about love and romance. “The movie that I have a love-hate relationship with — maybe this is an unpopular opinion — but it’s ‘The Notebook,’” Shetty says, pointing to a scene in which Ryan Gosling’s character threatens to fall from the top of a Ferris wheel if Rachel McAdams’ character doesn’t go on a date with him. “Those kinds of things are extremely triggering today,” Shetty explains. “If someone came up to you and said, ‘Hey, by the way, I’m going to let go and potentially die if you don’t go out with me,’ those are not healthy messages.”
SIGHTINGS: West Hollywood’s new gay bar, Or Bar, is quickly becoming the hot spot for Hollywood stars and insiders. Billy Porter, Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley, Alan Cumming, designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais and “Fairyland” director Andrew Durham have all been spotted at the chic watering hole.
Also on the podcast is Ben Aldridge. Since coming out as gay less than three years ago, the “Fleabag” actor has starred in Focus Features’ “Spoiler Alert” as Kit Cowan, late husband of Michael Ausiello (who is editor-in-chief of Variety’s sibling outlet TVLine). Now he’s playing gay again in M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “Knock at the Cabin.” Aldridge and Jonathan Groff star as husbands whose vacation in the woods with their young daughter turns horrific when four violent strangers take them hostage.
“Oh, you’re going to make me cry,” Aldridge says when I ask him to recall the moment in 2020 that he came out, at age 34, with an Instagram post. “It sounds dramatic, but I could just breathe easier. I underestimated how significant that was to me. … I didn’t know what it would do to me physically. And just for days afterwards I was like, ‘I needed that so badly.’”
He says living his truth has been an awakening: “I suddenly realized that I had held myself from desires that I had. I didn’t know that I loved ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ I forgot or I’d denied to myself really early on that I love musicals. I love divas.”
Aldridge’s favorite “Drag Race” star? Alaska Thunderfuck. As for divas, he names Barbra Streisand as his ultimate gay icon.