Behind the scenes of this year's holiday movies |


Behind the scenes of this year's holiday movies

EW goes gets behind the scenes of ''Rocky Balboa,'' ''The Good Shepherd,'' and ''The Holiday''

Rocky Balboa
The Italian Stallion is rising up, he’s back on the street. And he’s still got the eye of the tiger.

”I’m on set. I’m doin’ my job. But then I’m like, ‘F – -, I really want to get this picture.”’ Who could blame budding photographer Milo Ventimiglia? After he saw the setup writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone (seated above) had for their graveside father-son truce, he knew he had less than a minute to shoot the ”family” photo (that’s his shadow in the foreground) before running down the hill to be in place for his entrance. The shoot was taxing in a different way for Sly, rehearsing with real-life champ Antonio Tarver (who plays Rocky’s opponent, Mason Dixon) at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay (left): The contact in the film is real. ”I had to have my ear drained twice,” Stallone says. ”Many times, I was hit with these stunning blows and just dropped.” — Mandi Bierly

The Good Shepherd
Robert De Niro gets back behind the camera to look at the genesis of the CIA

Robert De Niro — as a director — has been MIA since 1993’s A Bronx Tale. ”[The Good Shepherd] will have taken almost nine years to make,” explains Jane Rosenthal, who co-founded Tribeca Productions with De Niro in 1989. ”Bob had so many acting commitments, and it was difficult to get it made in a pre-9/11 world.” Shepherd concerns the birth of the CIA seen through the idealist eyes of agent Edward Wilson (Matt Damon). ”Angelina Jolie plays Wilson’s wife and is very much a woman of the time,” says Rosenthal. ”Her husband goes off to World War II and she becomes an independent woman while he’s gone.” — Vanessa Juarez

Curse of the Golden Flower
One part martial-arts epic, one part The Lion in Winter

A whirlwind of lush costumes and balletic battles, director Zhang Yimou’s third martial-arts epic reunites the director (above, in sunglasses) with his Raise the Red Lantern muse Gong Li. Playing an empress determined to foil her duplicitous husband (Chow Yun-Fat), Gong is ”better than ever,” says Zhang. ”A silent but excellent communication exists between us.” — Michelle Kung

The Holiday
Two women trade spaces and find love in the strangest places

While shooting in the English countryside earlier this year, writer-director Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give) was nervous about asking star Cameron Diaz to lather up in the dead of winter. ”Cameron loved it,” says Meyers, who wrote her international apartment-swap romantic comedy with Diaz and Kate Winslet in mind. ”[In the scene], she’s just met Jude Law and is now wondering why she didn’t invite him in. It’s hilarious because she’s so much longer than the tub.” Back in L.A., Jack Black (above, right), who romances Winslet, was less concerned with keeping warm than cooling off. ”Near the end of the movie, there’s this party where Jack’s dancing in a suit and he was getting really hot,” says Meyers. ”I had a powerful air conditioner moved over…. He just pulled up a chair and sat right in front of it.” — Michelle Kung