22/08/2011 10:40 BST | Updated 17/10/2011 06:12 BST

10 things I learned at mega movie bash Empire Big Screen (Part 2)

1. Jeremy Irvine is going to be a star

The almost-unknown lead in War Horse made an appearance at the fest and chatted about his role in the Spielberg adaptation. Despite admitting "I'd never been on a horse", he revealed it took "about two months of auditioning. I was going in two or three times a job interviews go, it was pretty intense." He told a funny story about being called in for ONE MORE audition to test his accent, only to be handed a script which had him reading out the fact he'd already got the role on camera. And he also described how his casting was almost karmic - his great-grandfather had a horse which lived with him during WW1 and which he eventually bought back off the Army. The amount was the same amount Jeremy's character Albert buys Joey back for in the film!

2. Tom Hardy is so muscly, he almost looks fat!

Seriously - check out the trailer for Warrior, which stars Hardy and Joel Edgerton as two brothers who also like to cage fight. Edgerton is in great shape for sure, but Hardy is something else. Will we be seeing those weird shoulder bumps in The Dark Knight Rises? I've heard great things about Warrior, so...

3. Naked fight scenes are cool

Or at least Aussie hardbody Sullivan Stapleton makes it looks the case in Sky 1's Strike Back: Project Dawn. Even more impressive is how Little Sully manages to avoid making an appearance. One assumes there are edit facility employees with access to excellent blackmail material. Stapleton's star is very much on the rise. He'll next appear opposite Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn in Gangster Squad from director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland).

4. Lily Collins may be the new Jennifer Connelly... least in the eyebrow department. The up-and-coming actress, who is the daughter of Phil Collins, plays the damsel in distress in Abduction, an action movie whose trailer looks both bombastic and brainless. Part of that might be thanks to Taylor Lautner, who has a hell of a body for a teenager, but errs towards Keanu in the "things going on behind the eyes" department. Anyway, Collins definitely reminds me of early Connelly in the area just above her peepers - both are lustrous - though where the latter had a bod for sin (see Mulholland Falls/The Rocketeer in particular), the former is beautiful but could do with a few sandwiches. Connelly is both a cult fave (Labyrinth) and an Oscar-winner (A Beautiful Mind), so I'm sure Collins will be dreaming of a similar career.

5. John Carter may be the blockbuster we're hoping for. Maybe

We got footage introduced by the writer/director Andrew Stanton, a Pixar alumnus taking on his first live-action film which showed off some spectacular vistas, though the possibility that the aliens might end up a bit Jar Jar Binks wasn't totally vanquished. The project has been kicking around Hollywood for some time and anyone who's watched the TV show Friday Night Lights will know Taylor Kitsch is a leading man to watch. But it's mainly Stanton who inspires confidence, thanks to credits including WALL-E, Finding Nemo and Toy Story 2. If he can carry that warmth and story craft into an adult action blockbuster, we might be in business.