The (Former) Apprentice With The High Ground

By Bryan A Westfall

Things have changed since the prequels. We’ve come to a point where Dave Filoni is finally (visibly) stepping out of the apprentice role. In case he’s not a household name in your parts, an introduction is in order.

This post from Dave was from May of this year in honor of George Lucas‘ birthday. It can be argued, though, that he was well out of apprenticeship mode a very long time ago.

As resume’s go, Dave’s biggest creative imprint is on Star Wars Rebels (which he created and executive produced). However, it was before sampling any of his work that he made a abiding impact on me.

When Disneyland opened “Star Wars Launch Bay” in 2015, it housed a variety of Star Wars film artifacts. There was also a short film titled “Meet The Makers“, which focused on the resurgence in Star Wars stories in all their forms. Here, I was first introduced to Dave and his infectious storytelling spirit and love for (and mastery of) Star Wars lore:


“I don’t know what it must be like to be a kid growing up with this much awesome. I don’t know how it would have effected me. I probably would have been making films by the time I was six.

We’re gonna need those kids in the future to keep this thing going, because there’s a lot to do.”

My next brush with him was different. In person at the Rebels post panel press conference at the 2017 Star Wars Celebration in Orlando (where he announced the end of the series). Here, Dave discusses “The Force“:

It’s not every day a stranger can make a life long Star Wars fanatic feel inferior in their personal fandom, but I certainly did in that moment. I went into that event focused on any footage of Episode 8, but after this all I wanted was to hear Dave talk about Star Wars (which years later is still the case).

Over the years, many who know Dave’s work have mirrored writer Jennifer Muro’s sentiment. We’ve waited a long time for him to move into the live-action Star Wars world, and that time finally came in the form of “The Mandalorian“.

Dave is executive producing along with creator Jon Favreau, and has directed two of the episodes in the first season (including the premier episode).

George made a set visit while Dave directed his premiere episode. For the already converted, this seemed like a nice way to send a message to those who are still hyper-focused on the Skywalker saga that this new world (and those steering the ship) is legit…and must be paid attention to.


He may have a thing or two to learn transitioning to the mechanics of live action directing, but it’s clear to see that Dave has grown much more powerful in storytelling than his former master, as well as in a love & passion for the Star Wars universe…and it’s future.

The first episode of “The Mandalorian” was a doozy, and unlike anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe (while tying in some familiar lore at the same time). Dave has already proven himself worthy of this new world like the savant we all knew he was.

One doesn’t need to look far to find a message from Dave to the whole of Star Wars fandom in that first ep:

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Stream the first few episodes of “The Mandalorian” now on Disney+!

PS. YOU BETTER BELIEVE I HIGH-FIVED THE MAN (after gushing like fool)


BREAKING: “Old Men Yell At Film Shaped Cloud”

By Bryan A Westfall

I was self-diagnosed with “Early Onset Curmudgeon Syndrome” at about 20 years old. Loud noises, “YOUTHS”, crowds (especially if the former two were combined), or any sort of tomfoolery was very off-putting. Give me my quiet, my personal space, and stay off my GD lawn.

That being said, that young grump never let curmudgeon-hood shape his view of the arts. I’m also very happy to say that 20 (or so 😉) years later (with curmudgeonhood in full bloom), it still doesn’t.

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Stan the ever-shining example of loving film-based fun at whatever age.

Recently, there has been a bit of drama surrounding Martin Scorsese saying that superhero movies “weren’t cinema“. He was likely thinking this was the height of insults, but his fellow film-maker Francis Ford Coppola stepped in with a solid “HOLD MY BEER” (he stated Marvel films were “despicable”).

Thankfully, the heart of the MCU (and soon the DCEU), Director James Gunn rolled in with a summation that was heartfelt, and very on point:

As this grump gets even older, there will certainly be some aspects of cinema, music, tech etc that will escape my personal taste or understanding…but I’d never begrudge those that create or partake in it. It’s art coming from communities (where art is created to reflect a shared experience) that I’m not a part of.

I have hope for myself, and for those also aging a bit. We don’t have to end up shi**ing on things made by younger generations simply because we don’t ‘get it’. This epidemic seems to take hold of many who grow old, so it will clearly take some work…but it’s work I’m very very happy to do.

I mean, Steve had a list of pop-culture to catch up on the FIRST time he was an old fart.

For real, though, kids. Please get off my lawn and go make your art somewhere else (just please please please send me a link to it when you’re done ❤️️ ).

Spidey’s Tangled Web

By Bryan A Westfall

“The one thing that he did that he didn’t second-guess was picking you. I don’t think Tony would’ve done what he did if he didn’t know that you were going to be here after he was gone.”

Yo, Happy. Say it louder for the kids in the back (Sony and Disney).

I tried for days to come up with a time my geek heart was broken as much as it was last week, and came up totally blank.

“Spider-Man’s MCU future in question after Disney-Sony deal hits standoff”

Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man is leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To say fans of the MCU are gutted would be an understatement. Though, I guess there’s a sliver of a glass half empty/glass half full argument to be had.

The half-sorta-full is that we’ve had 5 movies with this wonderful iteration of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, tooling around with the likes of Dr. Strange, Star-Lord, Captain America, and of course, Iron Man. That has been more than I could have ever dreamed for Spider-Man, after the disappointment that the previous live-action iterations have been for me.

We’ve also been given the understanding that there will be two more (non-MCU) Spider-Man films, with Tom as our favorite web-slinger.

The half-pretty-dang-empty side of things is fairly obvious. That 5 films worth of time was spent deliberately weaving Peter’s story into the very heart and soul of the MCU.

We all got to know this iteration of Peter/Spider-Man in this context, very much by design. He’s become most of what he is from these relationships (particularly with Tony).

Most importantly, in Far From Home, Tony quite literally passed the torch to the kid, in the form of E.D.I.T.H.



Fan reactions have been alternating between anger at the two giant, money hungry corporations, and grief over losing the relationships Peter has built within the Avengers universe. The latter definitely lingers.

At the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Tom took a few opportunities to speak about this split. First, after a panel for next year’s “Onward” (which he voices alongside GOTG’s Chris Pratt):


“Listen, it’s been a crazy week, but thank you from the bottom of my heart and I love you 3000.”

Later on, he spoke with EW & People in a little more detail:

“It’s been five amazing years. I’ve had the time of my life. Who knows what the future holds? But all I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life. It’s going to be so fun, however we choose to do it. The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler.”

Tom has some fans in the form of his fellow Avengers. Many of them have been publicly lamenting the loss of the kid from Queens.

Jeremy Renner (“Hawkeye”) was the first Avenger to speak out:

Guardians of the Galaxy” writer/director James Gunn was asked his thoughts by a fan on Instagram:

Good to see someone focusing on the positive, which is Tom as Spidey & writer/director Jon Watts (who isn’t officially signed on for future installments just yet).

Nebula herself, Karen Gillan, posted a more subtle tribute to happier times on twitter:

For a little bittersweet fun, Tom posted his own pics of a playful reunion with his former MCU mentor…which solicited a broken-hearted reaction from the Hulk in the comments:

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It won’t take being in the MCU for this Spider-Man to carry on from that cliffhanger, and I’m sure there are some great screenwriters out there up for the challenge. It will take some time to recover from the sting, but there will come a point when excitement will return.


In the meantime, if there is a silver lining (?), perhaps this leaves room for some Scott Lang love? We’ve passed SDCC & D23 Expo with their abundance of Disney+ announcements (that go well into 2022). However, zero announcements of a follow-up for Mr. Time-Heist himself.

I do believe I mentioned a riot if we don’t hear about Ant-Man soon. They’re headed your way, Feige. I don’t think you want to piss off the small-crawly-thing-based superhero fans any more than you already have. Your move:



Them Theories, Tho. 🙄

By Bryan A Westfall

Dearest Google: Please add a “Not Interested in Unreleased Film Theories or Behind the Scenes Rumors” option here:


These were the options that came along with this Google suggested headline:


No, thank you.

I finally have Google dialed in on genre’s I’m interested in reading about when landing on their home page (nearly the feat of tailoring the perfect Pandora station). If only some movie related websites had hobbies other than random plot theories & behind the scenes rumors to fill space on their sites between major movie releases.

Star Wars 9 Leaks May Confirm a Shocking, Old Palpatine Rumor ” – Nope.

Star Wars 9 Leaked Merch May Disprove a Major Emperor Palpatine Rumor” – Nuh-Uh.

Star Wars 9 Leaks May Confirm Another Huge Cameo in Rise of Skywalker” – FOR THE LOVE OF THE FORCE, PLEASE STOP.

(All of those…from Inverse. Get your house in order, friends.)

I understand that regularly posting content is what brings and keeps site visitors and engagement, but if this is what fills up most of their space, there seems to be a great opportunity to level up in content. There are a plethora of freelance writers out there that would add a ton of value to your site.

I’ll come back with some sweet sweet content creator recommendations later. Start thinking of your own favorites now, and share them with me on the twitter!


Sure, there is an audience for hours upon hours of content pointing to endless rumors & theories & leaks based on absolutely nothing…for some unknown reason. I’m sure there is plenty of data being mined showing that this is the drug of choice (leading to ad revenue and so on).

That being said, shouldn’t the aim be giving the audience more than the quick fix, instead of being the ‘drug dealer’ & grabbing those stacks on stacks of (ad based) cash?

These rumors and theories take up space and time, but not much else. There is nothing to know there, there’s only speculation. Perhaps they’re fodder for a conversation that ultimately leads nowhere, till a film is released. At best, they could be material for a fun wager or two. Should that take up as much space as it does? 


Deep dives into topics/themes from comics, films, etc. might not be BREAKING NEWS, but if well crafted can help people move past speculation about a film set or plot, and into what connects them with the stories and the people around them. 

Here are some examples of original content creators that are very much worth keeping tabs on:

Andrew J. Salazar has some sweet pieces at Geeks of Color to peruse. His pinned tweet also starts a thread of a ton of articles he’s written. Keep him in your thoughts as he’s currently braving the (apparently unorganized) madness of D23 Expo this weekend 🙏.

Amy Ratcliffe was part of one of the most inspirational panels at Star Wars Celebration back in April. She’s written “Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy” and regularly contributes to the official Star Wars website.

Geek Girl Diva writes all over the known geek universe. This article on how Dave Filoni and Star Wars: The Clone Wars renewed hope in Star Wars lore (pre-OG trilogy) is relatable.

Bryan Young contributes to Star Wars & Huffpo (among others), but this breakdown of creating the Lightsaber duel in The Phantom Menace for SYFY is a great jumping off point.

After this year’s SDCC, Josephine L. wrote about a cross section of panels that featured (in one way or another) the state (& future) of diversity and representation in storytelling.

Kim Renfro knows a thing or two about Game of Thrones…and has a book to prove it. She’s a contributor of entertainment & geek related things for INSIDER.

Now, it’s your turn! Hit me up on twitter and let me know who I should be reading! 

Phase Four

By Bryan A Westfall

Just…give me a moment to catch my breath.

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OK. I think I’m ready to talk about Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before we jump in, the most important thing you need to know is at the top. Take a few to bask in it.

Announced during Marvel‘s Phase 4 panel at San Diego Comic Con yesterday, Taika Waititi will be returning to direct the fourth installment of Thor. It will feature Natalie Portman as the “Goddess of Thunder” based on Jason Aaron’s “The Mighty Thor“. A lady Thor!!!

Personally, that would be enough to pacify me for a long while. However, as we’ve learned, “way more than is necessary or even seems possible” is Marvel’s style:

That’s a whole lotta Marvel. Anything with the “Disney+” logo will be a series on Disney’s upcoming streaming service. A lot of familiar “Endgame” veterans in that category: “Hawkeye“, “The Falcon and Winter Soldier“, “WandaVision“, and “Loki” will all land on that service, with only Bucky & Sam’s show debuting next year.

Thankfully, the first thing we get in this next phase is less than a year away:


How nice of them to reunite us with Natasha Romanoff as the first Phase 4 gift after killing her off in “Endgame“. Way to shorten that grieving period!

That cast is very promising. “Stranger Things” fan fav David Harbour and Rachel Weisz are some very exciting additions to the MCU.

I don’t know much about the next few films following “Black Widow” (“Shang-Chi” & “Eternals“), but as I’ve established recently, these films are my way of getting to know these stories.

A few surprise confirmations were saved for last:

Blade” will be rebooted starring “Green Book” actor Mahershala Ali, but no casting has started for the MCU iteration of the “Fantastic Four“. All I have to say on the latter is “surprise me”.

With that big phase 4 list stretching out into 2021, there are certainly some very big vacancies. We know “Guardians of the Galaxy” will get it’s 3rd installment with James Gunn at the helm. “Black Panther 2“, “Spider-Man 3“, and “Captain Marvel 2” are also slam dunks at some point. 

But…What about LANG?! Mr. “Time-Heist” himself had no mention, even though it was his idea that saved everyone on Earth in “Endgame”.


D23 Expo in Anaheim is only a month away, so here’s to hoping we hear more about Scott & Hope in a special “Ant Man 3” announcement…

…or we riot.

Captured in Westeros

By Bryan A Westfall

It’s not every day that you get in a staring contest with Gregor Clegane (post-Qyborn serum) and come away unscathed. ☑

You don’t often get a chance to watch Syrio Forel teach the “Water Dance” to Arya Stark up close and in person. ☑

On a typical weekend, you won’t catch the “Kingslayer” himself, Jaime Lannister, staring right down the barrel of your camera. ☑

I could go on. These are all things I experienced (and captured), and if you had been at “Con Of Thrones” in Nashville, TN last weekend you could have to!

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The One Where Syrio Saves The Seven Kingdoms

By Bryan A Westfall

[Pinned from event in Summer of 2019 – See latest updates below this interview article!]

This past weekend, people from all across the Seven Kingdoms descended on Nashville, Tennessee for “Con of Thrones“. Over the course of three days, fans of both the literary and television versions of “Game of Thrones” were treated to panel discussions on a range of topics, including some featured panels with stars from the HBO series.

One of these spotlight panels featured “The First Sword of Braavos” himself, Miltos Yerolemou, who played “Syrio Forel” in the first season of the show. He also teaches Syrio’s “Water Dancing” to con goers lucky enough to score a spot in his coveted class (pictured above).


When I learned I was going to have a chance to sit down with Miltos for a one-on-one after his panel, I sent ravens to Thrones fans online, soliciting questions or comments regarding Syrio. One fan comment immediately jumped out as a pretty commonly held sentiment:

“Compared to the length of the series, he was only in a few episodes. Yet, because of an unforgettable performance and character, every time I think of Arya’s character arc, I think of Syrio. The two are inseparable for me.”

This seemed to be the perfect jumping-off point for our conversation about the man who set Arya Stark up for survival along her eight season long path (and beyond):


When you took the part, did you get the impression that Syrio was shaping Arya’s future in such a significant way?

I think so. Although we didn’t know what her ultimate destiny was going to be in the story in the TV show, we always knew that she was going to end up being an assassin. I definitely remember having those conversations with Maisie. She was only 13. She was only told what her mother had told her. We did know that she was going to become a blind assassin.

So, it was quite clear that her pursuit of these lessons – and being good at them – was going to be the constant in her character. That was quite profound. Obviously I didn’t realize that “What do we say to the God of Death”, would turn into the *most literal interpretation* of that. Of her *literally* killing death.

One of my favorite parts of that episode [Season 8 Episode 3, “The Long Night”], is when “The Hound” really loses his shit and he just starts cowering “There’s nothing we can do. We cannot defeat death. You can’t kill death.” and Beric goes “Try telling her that”. And it’s like “OH, YES. OF COURSE”. It was that moment when I went “This is all about the God of Death” and this is when I first thought “She might be the one to do it”.

And then, of course, when they literally had Melisandre going “What do we say to the God of Death?” I was like “OK, this is what’s going to happen.” I really felt it.

What drew you to the role initially? 

It’s that kind of Eastern mysticism. I think that’s the thing I loved the most. I grew up on martial arts films and Bruce Lee films. Films about the Shogun. I used to love all of that. I mean, I loved “Monkey”. In the 70’s there were two shows: One was called the “Water Margin” and the other was “Monkey”. It was badly dubbed, but were these stories about how god-animals take this Buddhist priest on journeys. I always had this deep fascination with Eastern philosophy.

That was the thing that connected with me the most. I really understood when he talks about “The seeing. The true seeing, is not with your eyes”. How you are in the moment. We talk about this a lot when we do acting exercises. How do you become in a place where you are so relaxed and so open that your reaction is instinctive & precise & clear. I love all that stuff. I completely understood it, so I could say those lines and believe them. That’s what I think I connected with the most.

– and also playing a character who is much cooler than you, as a human being. It was incredibly daunting, because you have only a little bit of time and you really need to look like you were born with a sword in your hand.

During your panel you brought up learning the “Water Dancing” with the fight and stunt coordinators – 

– and with William Hobbs. William Hobbs was my mentor. He was the one who really created the vocabulary with me of the “Water Dance”. The fight and stunt coordinators actually put the fights together, but the actual quality of what that movement would be…that was William Hobbs.

You mentioned having experience with stage combat. Was learning the “Water Dance” something like a musician learning a new song?

I guess so. It’s interesting because I always had a natural aptitude to be shown movement and I could replicate it. You could show me a couple of times, and I could do it. Some people can do that, and some are really good at maths. When I was younger, I loved all that. I would do circus skills, and anything that was kind of physical. If you ask me to do aerial trapeze, I’d go “YES I want to do that”. Learn to do back flips, “I want to do that.” All the kind of crazy stuff.

So, learning dance choreography I really enjoyed. When I got a chance to work at the “Royal Shakespeare Company” where there was lots of dueling to do with sword play or knife play – I played Mercutio once in “Romeo and Juliet” – I *loved* that. The fight choreographers would love me because they could give me something really complicated to do and I would learn it and they’d look really good.

The thing is, you don’t cast an actor *ever* based on how good they are at stage fighting. You cast someone that can play the part. So when it comes to the fight choreography, you have to work within what you’ve got. Some people are good with it and some people aren’t. So when you do find someone who picks it up quickly, it allows the fight choreographer to do much more complicated things.

It sounds like you have something like a growth mindset, wanting to explore these different skills.

Yeah, I think so. It’s also that it’s the way my mind processes things. If I can do it successfully, I want to do it more. If I did it and I was rubbish at it…“I’ll do something else now”.

How long before the first shoot day for the scene with Arya and Syrio did you start training?

I worked for about two weeks in London with Maisie’s stunt double, because Maisie was in Belfast prepping. We shot that first lesson pretty early on. I remember doing the read through of the first three episodes, which was one of the first things we ever did as a group. We were shooting two weeks later.

I’d already been working with William Hobbs in London, because I said “I need to work with someone. I need to get up to speed so that when we start filming I kind of understand what I’m doing”.

The thing about filming is you don’t really have time to rehearse these things. So, they asked me whether I could sword fight before they gave me the job. Because with the little screen time he has, you need to really believe that he is the “First Sword of Braavos”. I think they had in their heads that if they could just get someone who was just good at it, that would sell itself.

Me and Maisie both took it very seriously. “We’re not going to use our stunt doubles. We’re gonna do everything ourselves.” And we stuck to that. We were very proud of that. I’m sure Maisie has done all her own stuff, because she’s so good at it.

So, about two weeks in London without Maisie, then I went to Belfast and we spent two days and I showed her what the movement would be in the scene. She picked it up really quickly. And then we just shot it.

We honestly didn’t know it that well. It was a three and a half minute scene. Not just lines to learn, but *really* intricate movement. And the stunt coordinator [Buster Reeves] said: “Do not worry. They’re going to shoot it in bits, so you’ll only have to remember one bit a time.” He said that to reassure us.

When we turned up, on set, in costume…even then Buster was still going “Don’t worry we’re gonna do it in bits. So just remember this bit first. Just focus on that, and then we’ll move on and you’ll have half an hour while they’re resetting stuff to rehearse”. Then the director comes up and goes “Right. We’re gonna shoot it all in one take. We’re gonna do three cameras. We’re gonna have a tracking shot, steady cam, and a static. And…just do the scene, and we’ll catch it all.”

So we start, and Maisie and I are like…fumbling our way through. “I’m gonna get sacked. It’s my first day and I’m already gonna get sacked”. The thing is, we spent nearly three days doing that scene, because David & Dan said “This scene is really important, and we’re going to do it a lot because I want you both to be really comfortable”. It’s also that we had lots of time because it was really the beginning of shooting anything for “Game of Thrones”. They just wanted to get this one scene right because they said it’s really going to be important.

That’s when I realized this was going to be important. Let’s just spend the time. We’re not gonna rush it.

We’re gonna get it perfect.

[NARRATOR: And they totally did.]

The One And Only Batman

By Bryan A Westfall

I could never really get into comic books in my youth.

I definitely tried. I loved the characters and stories, but ingesting the short stories only once per month greatly tested my patience. Like with how I do most of my TV viewing now, I’d need to wait till there were plenty of back issues then binge…and it would need to be a story-line I was into.

Those story-lines were rare and almost exclusively Batman. The darker the better. When I read “The Killing Joke“, my eyes were opened to the idea of a grittier world for these heroes. This was something I could really get into. Still, by and large that particular means of taking in these stories escaped me.

Little did I now, around that time Tim Burton got his hands on a live action Batman film.


30 years ago today, I found the way I needed to ingest these stories.

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” The Joker’s envy over Bruce’s gadgets was what I would imagine other filmmakers felt about the cast and script that Burton had to play with on this film.


Michael Keaton is still the greatest all around Bruce Wayne/Batman. Argue otherwise, and I may fight you. He carved out this character (both sides of it) leaning on nothing in film history…at least this genre, as there was nothing to draw from. He created the blueprint for all others to follow, and in 30 years it’s yet to be improved upon.


Then, there’s Jack. “Winged freak terrorizes? Wait till they get a load of me.” It certainly was something to behold. Nicholson’s Joker had some of the all time great one-liners, which would’ve been wasted on most other actors.

A villain who made you love & hate him while attempting to poison a large number of Gotham civilians (remember “Smylex”)? Not many could pull that off.


Thankfully, The Joker’s tale is built in mystery. This has left the door open to more opportunities for others to have their own very unique take. Only one has measured up since.

A moment that stood out to me well after leaving the theater back in 1989, was when we first meet Batman doing what he does. He grabs a thief who was hiding on a Gotham rooftop, and dangles him over the edge:


Here, we learn this Batman knows how to play this game, without only violence:

“I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me.”

“What are you?!”

He’s Batman.

A Grateful Victory Lap

By Bryan A Westfall

You’d think after seeing Endgame twice, writing a farewell to Tony & Steve, then praising the greatness that is Nebula…I’d be fresh out of an inclination to write more about The Avengers for a while.

That was true till Robert Downey Jr. showed his true colors. And they’re…whatever awesome colors GRATEFUL would be.

Here and there, the cast of Endgame has been posting behind the scenes photos and videos, reminiscing about their time on set and providing fans with a glimpse into the fun (and stress) of working on such an epic production. Chris Evans was excited to learn when he could post this BTS vid from Endgame on twitter:

However, none has matched RDJ’s grateful victory lap.

We all know that Tony Stark has taken his last bow. Even before Endgame was released on April 26th, RDJ began posting photos and videos…memories from the set and press tour:

The posts leveled up in intensity once any reasonable spoiler embargo was lifted. This included a behind the scenes look at Tony’s SNAP (which obviously came well after the films release) :

While any singular post wouldn’t necessarily stand out, the sum total paints a picture of a man who is grateful. Grateful for fans, for the experience, for his family & friends, and of course for his fellow Avengers. You’ll notice a tendency to include #thankyou on his posts, especially after the film was released:

You definitely get a sense of someone who is going to miss these folks…and how much he appreciates them. One post was from a lunch he hosted for all of the women of the MCU:

Speaking of folks he’ll miss 😭:

While the legacy of RDJ’s portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man won’t dim in our hearts & minds any time soon, they’ve also taken a more physical approach to solidify this legacy at the infamous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA 🙌:

As much as I enjoy ending things by writing something clever or poignant, it’s probably best to let RDJ himself take us out of this one. We love you 3000, Robert! 👋: