Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic, to then become a leading man in Hollywood blockbusters, made by internationally renowned directors such as Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan.
Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born November 11, 1974 in Los Angeles, California, the only child of Irmelin DiCaprio (née Indenbirken) and former comic book artist George DiCaprio. His father is of Italian and German descent, and his mother, who is German-born, is of German and Russian ancestry. His middle name, "Wilhelm", was his maternal grandfather's first name. Leonardo's father had achieved minor status as an artist and distributor of cult comic book titles, and was even depicted in several issues of American Splendor, the cult semiautobiographical comic book series by the late 'Harvey Pekar', a friend of George's. Leonardo's performance skills became obvious to his parents early on, and after signing him up with a talent agent who wanted Leonardo to perform under the stage name "Lenny Williams", DiCaprio began appearing on a number of television commercials and educational programs.
DiCaprio began attracting the attention of producers, who cast him in bit part roles in a number of television series, such as Roseanne and The New Lassie, but it wasn't until 1991 that DiCaprio made his film debut in Critters 3, a low-budget horror movie. While Critters 3 did little to help showcase DiCaprio's acting abilities, it did help him develop his show-reel, and attract the attention of the people behind the hit sitcom Growing Pains, in which Leonardo was cast in the "Cousin Oliver" role of a young homeless boy who moves in with the Seavers. While DiCaprio's stint on Growing Pains was very short, as the sitcom was axed the year after he joined, it helped bring DiCaprio into the public's attention and, after the show ended, DiCaprio began auditioning for roles in which he would get the chance to prove his acting chops.
Leonardo took up a diverse range of roles in the early 1990s, including a mentally challenged youth in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, a young gunslinger in The Quick and the Dead and a drug addict in one of his most challenging roles to date, "Jim Carroll", in The Basketball Diaries, a role which the late River Phoenix originally expressed interest in. While these diverse roles helped establish Leonardo's reputation as an actor, it wasn't until his role as "Romeo" in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet that Leonardo became a household name, a true movie star. The following year, DiCaprio starred in another movie about doomed lovers, Titanic, which went on to beat all box office records held before then, as, at the time, Titanic became the highest grossing movie of all time, and cemented DiCaprio's reputation as a teen heartthrob. Following his work on Titanic, DiCaprio kept a low profile for a number of years, with roles in The Man in the Iron Mask and the low-budget The Beach being some of his few notable roles during this period.
In 2002, he burst back into screens throughout the world with leading roles in Catch Me If You Can and Gangs of New York, his first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorsese. With a current salary of $20 million a movie, DiCaprio is now one of the biggest movie stars in the world. However, he has not limited his professional career to just acting in movies, as DiCaprio is a committed environmentalist, who is actively involved in many environmental causes, and his commitment to this issue led to his involvement in The 11th Hour, a documentary movie about the state of the natural environment. As someone who has gone from bit parts in television commercials to one of the most respected actors in the world, DiCaprio has had one of the most diverse careers in cinema. DiCaprio continued to defy conventions about the types of roles he would accept, and with his career now seeing him leading all-star casts in action thrillers such as The Departed, Shutter Island and Christopher Nolan's Inception, DiCaprio continues to wow audiences by refusing to conform to any cliché about actors.
DiCaprio is passionate about environmental and humanitarian causes, having donated $1,000,000 to earthquake relief efforts in 2010, the same year he contributed $1,000,000 to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Born in London and raised in New York. From humble beginnings in New York Theater in 1994 where she trained with such esteemed director/writers as James Lapine ("Twelve Dreams" at Lincoln Center with Donna Murphy), Tony Kushner ("Slavs!" at New York Theater Workshop with Marisa Tomei), and Naomi Wallace ("One Flea Spare" at the Public Theatre with Dianne Wiest), she went on to work side by side with modern-day screen icons including Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant on Notting Hill, Bruce Willis and Toni Collette on The Sixth Sense and Sam Rockwell in her Sundance critically-lauded feature film debut Lawn Dogs produced by Duncan Kenworthy in 1998.
Yet, despite this early success in theater and film, what really catapulted Mischa to the next level and made her a household name is her small screen performance as the irrepressible and irresistible "Marisa" on the popular Fox television show, The O.C. (2003 to 2007). The show fast became a global cult phenomenon and has earned many awards including a Television Critics Association Award nomination for "Outstanding New Program of the Year".
Established as one of the most sought after young actresses of her generation Mischa was named "It Girl" by Entertainment Weekly, she was also Hollywood Life's "Breakthrough Actress of the Year", she won several American Teen Choice Awards for the show, and also Cosmopolitan's "Fun Fearless Female Award" for "Knockout Ingenue" and Glamour's "Women of the Year". She has been ranked as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" for 5 consecutive years. She was awarded the VIPer Award in 2008 for "Style Icon 2007" by Mr. Karl Lagerfeld. In 2008, she played opposite Shirley MacLaine & Christopher Plummer in Sir Richard Attenborough's Closing the Ring, with Hayden Christensen in the Dino De Laurentiis film Virgin Territory, and starred opposite Bruce Willis in Assassination of a High School President for the Yari Production Company. In 2007, she filmed Walled In for the French production company "Canal Plus", and she starred in and produced the film Homecoming.
In 2012 Mischa went back to her Theatrical roots and starred in a production of "Steel Magnolias" at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.
Mischa has the following Films slated for release this year, 2013. "Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain" opposite Martin Sheen, "A Resurrection" starring the late Michael Clarke Duncan and Devon Sawa "Apartment 1303 3D" with Rebecca De Mornay, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" opposite Ryan Eggold and "Beauty and the Least: The Misadventures of Ben Banks".
She has just completed "Mining for Ruby" Directed by Zoe Quist, "Beyond Justice" with Danny Trejo and Vinnie Jones and will star opposite Billy Zane in "Elephant's Graveyard" and with Christopher Plummer and Timothy Hutton in "Butterfly Love" 2014.
Mischa has also made a major impression in the fashion and beauty world. She has already graced the covers of countless international magazines and has become the face of numerous advertising campaigns.
She has developed her own Brand, her successful Handbag line having launched in 2008, together with Accessories, Clothing and Beauty products and her Flagship Boutique opened in Fashionable Shoreditch London in 2012.
This commercial and theatrical success has given the young woman an opportunity to take an extremely influential role in the global community. She became the spokesperson for "Climate Star", an organization that fights global warming through social and legislative activism. She serves as an "Entertainment Industry Foundation" ambassador teaming up with QVC to spread awareness and raise funds for women's cancer research through the "Fashion Footwear Association" of New York "Shoes on Sale Initiative" and is also involved in the "SAFE" campaign for skin cancer awareness. She is an ambassador for "Save the Children" and the "One Water" campaign which brings water to remote locations in Africa, and is on the board of the "Lupus Research Committee" in Los Angeles.
Widely regarded as the one of greatest stage and screen actors both in his native Great Britain and internationally, twice nominated for the Oscar and recipient of every major theatrical award in UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He is of Scottish, Northern Irish, and English descent. During his early childhood, his parents moved with Ian and his sister Jean to the mill town of Wigan. It was in this small town that young Ian rode out World War II. He soon developed a fascination with acting and the theater, which was encouraged by his parents. They would take him to plays, those by William Shakespeare, in particular. The amateur school productions fostered Ian's growing passion for theatre. When Ian was of age to begin attending school, he made sure to get roles in all of the productions. At Bolton School in particular, he developed his skills early on. Indeed, his first role in a Shakespearian play was at Bolton, as Malvolio in "Twelfth Night". Ian soon began attending Stratford-upon-Avon theater festivals, where he saw the greats perform: Laurence Olivier, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Paul Robeson. He continued his education in English Drama, but soon it fell by the wayside as he concentrated more and more on performing. He eventually obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1961, and began his career in earnest. McKellen began working in theatre over the next few years. Very few people knew of Ian's homosexuality; he saw no reason to go public, nor had he told his family. They did not seem interested in the subject and so he saw no reason to bring it up. In 1988, Ian publicly came out of the closet on the BBC Radio 4 program, while discussing Margaret Thatcher's "section 28" legislation which would make the "public promotion of homosexuality" a crime. It was reason enough for McKellen to take a stand, and he has been active in the Gay Rights movement ever since.
Ian resides in Limehouse, where he has also lived with his former long-time partner Sean Mathias. The two men have also worked together on the film Bent as well as in acclaimed stage productions. To this day, McKellen works mostly in theater, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 for his efforts in the arts. However, he has managed to make several quite successful forays into film. He has appeared in several productions of Shakespeare's works including his well received Richard III, and in a variety of other movies. However, it has only been recently that his star has finally begun to shine in the eyes of North American audiences. Roles in various films, Cold Comfort Farm, Apt Pupil and Gods and Monsters, riveted audiences. The latter, in particular, created a sensation in Hollywood, and McKellen's role garnered him several of awards and nominations, including a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod. McKellen, as he continues to work extensively on stage, he always keeps on 'solidifying' his 'role' as Laurence Olivier's worthy 'successor' in the best sense too, such as _King Lear (2008)_ directed by Trevor Nunn and in a range of other staggering performances full of generously euphoric delight that have included "Peter Pan" and Noël Coward's "Present Laughter", as well as Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" and Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land", both in acclaimed productions brilliantly directed by Sean Mathias.
McKellen found mainstream success with his performance as Magneto in X-Men and its sequels. His largest mark on the big screen may be as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, which he reprised in The Hobbit trilogy.
Gina Joy Carano was born under a tornado warning in Dallas, Texas, to parents Dana Joy (Cason) and Glenn Thomas Carano. Her father played for the Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys as a backup quarterback for Roger Staubach and Danny White from 1977-1983. In 1984, he was the starting quarterback for the USFL Pittsburgh Maulers. Gina's parents divorced when she was a child, but her father remained involved in her upbringing and is her biggest fan. Gina is of three sixteenths Italian descent, and her other roots include English, Scottish, Dutch, and German.
The middle child of three close-knit girls, Casey being a year older and Christie, the youngest, Gina is their self-proclaimed bodyguard and highly protective of them. All three girls were star athletes in high school. Growing up in Las Vegas, Gina, a natural born athlete and rambunctious tomboy, studied gymnastics, jazz, tap, ballet, rode horses, whooped up on her male cousins for fun at family gatherings, and wrestled and played football with the neighborhood boys. She graduated from Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she excelled in the volleyball, softball and basketball teams, the latter she helped secure a state title. Her collegiate studies include the University of Nevada, Reno where she attended one year, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for three where she was offered positions on both the softball and basketball teams. Her academic goal was a degree in psychology, but with only a few credits remaining she dropped everything in order to help her older sister through a crisis. At the age of 21, Gina began training in Muay Thai, a form of Kickboxing, with Master Toddy at the suggestion of then boyfriend Kevin Ross. In pursuit of a life-changing experience he ended up at a local Las Vegas Muay Thai Gym and she tagged along. A trainer approached her, telling her point blank that she was fat and needed to lose weight. She weighed around 175 lbs. and had no direction at that point in her life. She began training and became addicted. Master Toddy saw potential in the way Gina handled herself. She took naturally to fighting with strong punches, deadly elbows and knees, a impressive overhand right, and rib-cracking hard kicks. Immersing herself completely in the sport, she advanced quickly. Months later she found herself in a "fight club" situation in San Francisco where she took on any female fighter plopped down in front of her. Since then, she hasn't looked back.
Initially, because of her pretty face, spectators refused to take her seriously as a fighter. It is a bias that has haunted her throughout her fighting career. Gina, who is openly laughed at, insulted, and ridiculed in front of crowds before fights, realizes she will have to cowgirl up in order to silence her taunters and she lets her fists do the talking. Her Muay Thai career is comprised of an impressive 12 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw and she becomes the first American woman to win a title in Thailand. The 2005 cult film Ring Girls follows Gina and her trainer, Master Toddy during her early Muay Thai career. Because of her beauty, spunk, and tenacity she developed a significant fan following. In June 2006, Gina's success in Muay Thai brings her to the attention of Jamie Levine of World Extreme Fighting in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. He offers her a fight against Leiticia Pestova who holds a MMA record of 11 wins and 2 losses. It is to be the first-ever sanctioned female MMA bout in the state of Nevada. Levine is impressed with Gina's statuesque size. Standing at 5'8" and 155 lbs., which is the starting weight class for men, she isn't a frail little girl and has power in her kicks comparable to a man. Still in its infancy, and because of its vicious nature, a lot of people were teetering on the fence about women fighting in MMA. Levine believed gender didn't matter and he wanted to give the two women a nationwide platform to show what they could do. Gina, under the moniker "Conviction", trained relentlessly for the history-making bout, weighing in at a muscular 135 pounds. She does not disappoint her fans, winning the fight in explosive ground-and-pound action in the 38th second of the first round. Critics begin to whine that Gina is receiving preferential treatment based on her striking good looks and that her talents as a fighter are less than stellar. She uses these criticisms as fuel for her next bout against British fighter Rosi Sexton. in September 15, 2006. Sexton, a cerebral fighter with a mathematics degree from Cambridge and over 10 years of martial arts experience, possesses a 6-0 MMA record. Many believe Carano will go down in flames but, with six seconds left to go in the second round, Gina knocks Sexton out with a jaw dropping and show stopping overhand right. In December 2006, she faced Elaina Maxwell in what was their second fight against each other, the first time being in a Muay Thai bout. The fight went 3 rounds and showcased Gina's powerful overhand right and improved grappling skills. She won the unanimous decision.
February 10, 2007 -- In what is billed the "Fight of the Night" and the first televised female fight on Showtime, she faced Julie Kedzie. Kedzie, who was once arrested with a group of 300 nuns at a protest, is a feisty brawler known for overpowering her opponents in the clench. She has a record of 8 wins and 4 losses. The exciting fight, an amazing stand-up brawl, goes the distance with Gina knocking Kedzie flat at the end of the second round. Kedzie, a scrappy fighter, refused to give in, taking Carano down in the third round in a submission attempt. Carano rallied, winning the unanimous decision. The appreciative crowd gave both fighters a roaring standing ovation. Julie and Gina became training partners and good friends and remain so to this day. Gina's popularity skyrockets and she is crowned "The Face of Women's MMA" a title she doesn't particularly care for since it detracts from other women in the sport. Her image is everywhere. Critics, some of them other female fighters, complain that she is using sex appeal to further her career, that she is compensating for something she is lacking in the ring, that what she is doing is disrespectful to the sport, but fans can't seem to get enough of the imposing brunette. Men fall in love with her. Little girls and women find her an inspirational combination of beauty, strength, and power. Everyone is taken in by her shy smile and laid back, good-natured personality. Gina, who believes the image of a powerful, feminine woman is something to be celebrated, is baffled by the criticisms and humbled by the attention and support from her fans. She wins her next two fights -- In September 2007 against Tonya Evinger, a wrestling champion, via rear naked choke -- Gina's first submission -- and in May 2008 against Kaitlin Young although Gina had to forfeit a little over 12% of the purse to keep the fight on the card. She failed to make EliteXC's newly created 140 lb. weight class. Most MMA organizations have the featherweight division at 145 lbs. (65.8 kg.) Coming into the fight with only a three-week training camp, Carano weighed in at 144.5 lbs. (65.5 kg.) In spite of everyone's dire predictions, she dominates and the fight is stopped at the end of the second round. Gina wins by TKO. June 2008. More criticism : A sportswriter reporting on the Carano vs. Young fight voices his suspicion that Gina's opponents must be handpicked to make sure of the outcome and that she is too pretty to fight. He finds women fighting in the MMA an unpleasant experience but concludes that she is quite the asset. 2008 -- Gina reluctantly joins the cast of American Gladiators. She had reservations about running around in itty-bitty superhero spandex, but the show's producers pursued her and finally convinced her to sign on. She becomes known as "Crush" and cultivates a whole new fan base. She also appears as "Natasha", a Soviet Commando and Sniper, in the video game "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3". MMA Legend Randy Couture, who Gina trains with, also appears. Critics are oddly silent on Couture 'going Hollywood', using his sex appeal, or being 'too pretty' to be in the video game. October 2008 -- Gina causes an unintentional frenzy at the weigh-in for the fight against Kelly Kobold. She has only fought once in the past year and there is speculation that she will not be able to make weight. Gina had hired a nutritionist to help with her diet, but at the weigh-in, she failed to make weight on her first two attempts. Gina, who has stated she will never pose naked for "Playboy" or any publication, boldly strips off all her clothes for the third attempt. Photographers shoved and tripped over each other trying to obtain the Holy Grail of photos, a bare naked Gina Carano. Severely dehydrated and towel-shielded from the cameras, she successfully makes weight at 141 pounds. Her father is one of the men holding up towels. October 5, 2008 -- With a 16-2-1 record, 6 wins by knockout and 8 by submission, Kelly Kobold vows to make Gina Carano the broken, bruised and bloodied face of MMA. Instead, it is Gina who bloodied Kobold's face with a severe gash over the right eye. Gina unleashed killer kicks and knees and wins the fight. She remained undefeated and lovingly dedicated the win to her grandfather. 2009 --
She and fellow MMA athletes Kevin 'Kimbo Slice' Ferguson and Maurice Smith dabbled in the Hollywood scene with small but memorable cameos in the Michael Jai White film Blood and Bone. Gina also appears on the cover of "ESPN The Magazine - The Body Issue". Posing mostly topless she shows off an impressive set of abdominals, amazing legs, and invokes more criticism. August 15, 2009 -- Gina makes history again by becoming the first female fighter to earn $100,000 for a fight. She faced Brazilian Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos in the first Women's Championship. The championship was scheduled for 5 rounds, each lasted 5 minutes -- Another first. In a hard fought battle, she loses in a heartbreaker by TKO at the bell at the end of the first round. But on January 6, 2012, revelations come to light. The California State Athletic Commission announced that Santos had tested positive for steroids after a December 2011 fight. It throws suspicion on the legitimacy of all of Cyborg's wins, including her win against Gina. Cyborg is suspended for one year, received a $2,500 fine. Gina, though hurt and disappointed, remained gracious and supportive of her sister fighter. A Carano vs. Cyborg rematch would be a huge MMA event but it is unlikely that Gina will ever return to the sport that made her a superstar. Classified by the Unified Women's MMA Rankings as the third best 145 lb (66 kg.) female fighter in the world, her current MMA record stands at 7 wins and 1 loss.
It was after that devastating loss, black eye and all, that a deflated Gina met with Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh for lunch in San Diego. He had seen her fight earlier on CBS and dreamed of building a film around her. Immediately he was struck with her presence and intriguing mix of muscular power and eye-catching femininity. Inspired, he wrote the role of Mallory Kane specifically for her although she is nothing like the unsmiling, structured, alpha female character. Soderbergh assembled an impressive cast and all heaped praise on the fighter and aspiring actress. Channing Tatum, a huge fan of Gina's and the MMA, immediately signed on when he learned she was involved in the project. Ewan McGregor, having no clue who Gina Carano was, studied many of her fights on YouTube. Initially horrified by the violence of the sport, he with met with her and was taken with how quiet, gentle and thoughtful she was out of the ring. He recalls hurting his hand when he accidentally punched Gina in the head during the film's final climatic fight scene. Gina, completely unaffected by the punch and worried she had injured the actor, immediately popped to her feet and asked if he was okay. Antonio Banderas found Gina to be beautiful, natural and real and believes she has a career in front of her. Michael Fassbender, who Gina now considers a mentor, thought her extraordinary and was impressed with her work ethic. Michael Douglas, who topped out the A-list cast, heralded Gina's self-control.
Gina is proud to have been a pioneer in Women's MMA, for kicking down barriers and inspiring and paving the way for the next wave of female fighters. She recently joined the 87Eleven Stunt team, the same team that propelled her to star status with their work on Haywire. With film projects like Fast & Furious 6, In the Blood and rumors of Wonder Woman flying around, Gina Carano has found her niche in the Action Heroine film market. Her newest challenge as an athlete -- To cross over into film successfully.
Undoubtedly one of the most influential film personalities in the history of film, Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. Spielberg has countless big-grossing, critically acclaimed credits to his name, as producer, director and writer.
Steven Allan Spielberg was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Leah Frances (Posner), a concert pianist and restaurateur, and Arnold Spielberg, an electrical engineer who worked in computer development. His parents were both born to Russian Jewish immigrant families. Steven spent his younger years in Haddon Township, New Jersey, Phoenix, Arizona, and later Saratoga, California. He went to California State University Long Beach, but dropped out to pursue his entertainment career. He gained notoriety as an uncredited assistant editor on the classic western Wagon Train. Among his early directing efforts were Battle Squad (1961), which combined World War II footage with footage of an airplane on the ground that he makes you believe is moving. He also directed Escape to Nowhere, which featured children as World War Two soldiers, including his sister Anne Spielberg, and The Last Gun, a western. All of these were short films. The next couple of years, Spielberg directed a couple of movies that would portend his future career in movies. In 1964, he directed Firelight, a movie about aliens invading a small town. In 1967, he directed Slipstream, which was unfinished. However, in 1968, he directed Amblin', which featured the desert prominently, and not the first of his movies in which the desert would feature so prominently. Amblin' also became the name of his production company, which turned out such classics as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg had a unique and classic early directing project, Duel, with Dennis Weaver. In the early 1970s, Spielberg was working on TV, directing among others such series as Rod Serling's Night Gallery, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Murder by the Book. All of his work in television and short films, as well as his directing projects, were just a hint of the wellspring of talent that would dazzle audiences all over the world.
Spielberg's first major directorial effort was The Sugarland Express, with Goldie Hawn, a film that marked him as a rising star. It was his next effort, however, that made him an international superstar among directors: Jaws. This classic shark attack tale started the tradition of the summer blockbuster or, at least, he was credited with starting the tradition. His next film was the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a unique and original UFO story that remains a classic. In 1978, Spielberg produced his first film, the forgettable I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and followed that effort with Used Cars, a critically acclaimed, but mostly forgotten, Kurt Russell\\Jack Warden comedy about devious used-car dealers. Spielberg hit gold yet one more time with Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Harrison Ford taking the part of Indiana Jones. Spielberg produced and directed two films in 1982. The first was Poltergeist, but the highest-grossing movie of all time up to that point was the alien story E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg also helped pioneer the practice of product placement. The concept, while not uncommon, was still relatively low-key when Spielberg raised the practice to almost an art form with his famous (or infamous) placement of Reece's Pieces in "E.T." Spielberg was also one of the pioneers of the big-grossing special-effects movies, like "E.T." and "Close Encounters", where a very strong emphasis on special effects was placed for the first time on such a huge scale. In 1984, Spielberg followed up "Raiders" with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which was a commercial success but did not receive the critical acclaim of its predecessor. As a producer, Spielberg took on many projects in the 1980s, such as The Goonies, and was the brains behind the little monsters in Gremlins. He also produced the cartoon An American Tail, a quaint little animated classic. His biggest effort as producer in 1985, however, was the blockbuster Back to the Future, which made Michael J. Fox an instant superstar. As director, Spielberg took on the book The Color Purple, with Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, with great success. In the latter half of the 1980s, he also directed Empire of the Sun, a mixed success for the occasionally erratic Spielberg. Success would not escape him for long, though.
The late 1980s found Spielberg's projects at the center of pop-culture yet again. In 1988, he produced the landmark animation/live-action film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The next year proved to be another big one for Spielberg, as he produced and directed Always as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Back to the Future Part II. All three of the films were box-office and critical successes. Also, in 1989, he produced the little known comedy-drama Dad, with Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson, which got mostly mixed results. Spielberg has also had an affinity for animation and has been a strong voice in animation in the 1990s. Aside from producing the landmark "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", he produced the animated series Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid!, Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, Family Dog and Toonsylvania. Spielberg also produced other cartoons such as The Land Before Time, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Casper (the live action version) as well as the live-action version of The Flintstones, where he was credited as "Steven Spielrock". Spielberg also produced many Roger Rabbit short cartoons, and many Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs and Tiny Toons specials. Spielberg was very active in the early 1990s, as he directed Hook and produced such films as the cute fantasy Joe Versus the Volcano and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. He also produced the unusual comedy thriller Arachnophobia, Back to the Future Part III and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. While these movies were big successes in their own right, they did not quite bring in the kind of box office or critical acclaim as previous efforts. In 1993, Spielberg directed Jurassic Park, which for a short time held the record as the highest grossing movie of all time, but did not have the universal appeal of his previous efforts. Big box-office spectacles were not his only concern, though. He produced and directed Schindler's List, a stirring film about the Holocaust. He won best director at the Oscars, and also got Best Picture. In the mid-90s, he helped found the production company DreamWorks, which was responsible for many box-office successes.
As a producer, he was very active in the late 90s, responsible for such films as The Mask of Zorro, Men in Black and Deep Impact. However, it was on the directing front that Spielberg was in top form. He directed and produced the epic Amistad, a spectacular film that was shorted at the Oscars and in release due to the fact that its release date was moved around so much in late 1997. The next year, however, produced what many believe was one of the best films of his career: Saving Private Ryan, a film about World War Two that is spectacular in almost every respect. It was stiffed at the Oscars, losing best picture to Shakespeare in Love.
Spielberg produced a series of films, including Evolution, The Haunting and Shrek. he also produced two sequels to Jurassic Park, which were financially but not particularly critical successes. In 2001, he produced a mini-series about World War Two that definitely *was* a financial and critical success: Band of Brothers, a tale of an infantry company from its parachuting into France during the invasion to the Battle of the Bulge. Also in that year, Spielberg was back in the director's chair for A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a movie with a message and a huge budget. It did reasonably at the box office and garnered varied reviews from critics.
Spielberg has been extremely active in films there are many other things he has done as well. He produced the short-lived TV series SeaQuest 2032, an anthology series entitled Amazing Stories, created the video-game series "Medal of Honor" set during World War Two, and was a starting producer of ER. Spielberg, if you haven't noticed, has a great interest in World War Two. He and Tom Hanks collaborated on Shooting War, a documentary about World War II combat photographers, and he produced a documentary about the Holocaust called Eyes of the Holocaust. With all of this to Spielberg's credit, it's no wonder that he's looked at as one of the greatest ever figures in entertainment.
John Joseph Travolta was born in Englewood, New Jersey, one of six children of Helen Travolta (née Helen Cecilia Burke) and Salvatore/Samuel J. Travolta. His father was of Italian descent and his mother was of Irish ancestry. His father owned a tire repair shop called Travolta Tires in Hillsdale, NJ. Travolta started acting appearing in a local production of "Who'll Save the Plowboy?". His mother, herself an actress and dancer, enrolled him in a drama school in New York, where he studied voice, dancing and acting. He decided to combine all three of these skills and become a musical comedy performer. At 16 he landed his first professional job in a summer stock production of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie". He quit school at 16 and moved to New York, and worked regularly in summer stock and on television commercials. When work became scarce in New York, he went to Hollywood and appeared in minor roles in several series. A role in the national touring company of the hit 1950s musical "Grease" brought him back to New York. An opening in the New York production of "Grease" gave him his first Broadway role at age 18. After "Grease", he became a member of the company of the Broadway show "Over Here", which starred The Andrews Sisters. After ten months in "Over Here", he decided to try Hollywood once again. Once back in Hollywood, he had little trouble getting roles in numerous television shows. He was seen on The Rookies, Emergency! and Medical Center and also made a movie, The Devil's Rain, which was shot in New Mexico. The day he returned to Hollywood from New Mexico, he was called to an audition for a new situation comedy series ABC was planning to produce called Welcome Back, Kotter. He got the part of Vinnie Barbarino and the series went on the air during the 1975 fall season.
He starred in a number of monumental films, earning his first Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his role in the blockbuster Saturday Night Fever, which launched the disco phenomenon in the 1970s. He went on to star in the big-screen version of the long-running musical Grease and the wildly successful Urban Cowboy, which also influenced trends in popular culture. Additional film credits include the Brian De Palma thrillers Carrie and Blow Out, as well as Amy Heckerling's hit comedy Look Who's Talking and Nora Ephron's comic hit Michael. Travolta starred in Phenomenon and took an equally distinctive turn as an action star in John Woo's top-grossing Broken Arrow. He also starred in the classic Face/Off opposite Nicolas Cage, and The General's Daughter, co-starring Madeleine Stowe. In 2005, Travolta reprised the role of ultra cool Chili Palmer in the Get Shorty sequel Be Cool. In addition, he starred opposite Scarlett Johansson in the critically acclaimed independent feature film A Love Song for Bobby Long, which was screened at the Venice Film Festival, where both Travolta and the films won rave reviews. In February 2011, John was honored by Europe's leading weekly program magazine HORZU, with the prestigious Golden Camera Award for "Best Actor International" in Berlin, Germany. Other recent feature film credits include box-office hit-comedy "Wild Hogs," the action-thriller Ladder 49, the movie version of the successful comic book The Punisher, the drama Basic, the psychological thriller Domestic Disturbance, the hit action picture Swordfish, the infamous sci-fi movie Battlefield Earth, based upon the best-selling novel by L. Ron Hubbard, and Lonely Hearts.
Travolta has been honored twice with Academy Award nominations, the latest for his riveting portrayal of a philosophical hit-man in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. He also received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for this highly acclaimed role and was named Best Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, among other distinguished awards. Travolta garnered further praise as a Mafioso-turned-movie producer in the comedy sensation Get Shorty, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. In 1998, Travolta was honored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts with the Britanna Award: and in that same year he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chicago Film Festival. Travolta also won the prestigious Alan J. Pakula Award from the US Broadcast Critics Association for his performance in A Civil Action, based on the best-selling book and directed by Steven Zaillian. He was nominated again for a Golden Globe for his performance in Primary Colors, directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Emma Thompson and Billy Bob Thornton, and in 2008, he received his sixth Golden Globe nomination for his role asEdna Turnblad in the big-screen, box-office hit Hairspray. As a result of this performance, the Chicago Film Critics and the Santa Barbara Film Festival decided to recognize Travolta with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his role.
In addition, Travolta starred opposite Denzel Washington in Tony Scott's remake The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and he provided the voice of the lead character in Walt Disney Pictures' animated hit _Bolt_, which was nominated for a 2009 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and a Golden Globe for Best Animated Film, in addition to Best Song for John and Miley Cyrus' duet titled, "I Thought I Lost You."
Next, Travolta starred in Walt Disney Pictures' Old Dogs, along with Robin Williams, Kelly Preston and Ella Bleu Travolta, followed by the action thriller From Paris with Love, starring opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers. In 2012, John starred alongside Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demián Bichir in Oliver Stone's, Savages. The film was based on Don Winslow's best-selling crime novel that was named one of The New York Times' Top 10 Books of 2010. John was most recently seen in Killing Season co-starring Robert De Niro and directed by Mark Steven Johnson. John recently completed production on the Boston based film, The Forger, alongside Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer and Critic's Choice nominee Tye Sheridan. John plays a second generation petty thief who arranges to get out of prison to spend time with his ailing son (Sheridan) by taking on a job with his father (Plummer) to pay back the syndicate that arranged his release. John has received 2 prestigious aviation awards: in 2003 the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation Award for Excellence for his efforts to promote commercial flying, and in 2007 The Living Legends Ambassador of Aviation award.
John holds 11 jet licenses: 747, 707, Gulfstream II, Lear 24, Hawker 1251A, Eclipse Jet, Vampire Jet, Canadair CL-141 Jet, Soko Jet, Citation ISP and Challenger. Travolta is the Qantas Airways Global Goodwill "Ambassador-at-Large" and piloted the original Qantas 707 during "Spirit of Friendship" global tour in July/August 2002. John is also a business aircraft brand ambassador for Learjet, Challenger and Global jets for the world's leading business aircraft manufacturer, Bombardier. John flew the 707 to New Orleans after the 2005 hurricane disaster bringing food and medical supplies, and in 2010, again flew the 707, this time to Haiti after the earthquake, carrying supplies, doctors and volunteers.
John, along with his wife, actress Kelly Preston are also very involved in their charity, The Jett Travolta Foundation, which raises money for children with educational needs.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina and raised in Virginia Beach and Miami Beach, Chyler began her career in front of the camera at age 12 modeling for magazines and catalogues. Her success in print later led to national commercials for Coca Cola and Wendy's, among others.
By age 16, she had already completed several pilots (ABC's Wilder Days and the WB's Saving Graces) at the onset. Aaron Spelling confirmed the young actress's talent when he hired her a few years ago as a series regular in the WB series Safe Harbor after seeing her performance on Saving Graces. She also guest-starred on 7th Heaven in a powerful three-story arc wherein her character, "Frankie", a young, inept mother had adversely influenced the family.
Leigh made her film debut in the Colombia/Tri-Star hit comedy spoof Not Another Teen Movie, which opened nationwide December, 2001. She originally auditioned for a smaller role, but the producers and directors were so impressed with her performance that they invited her to read for the lead. Leigh was stunned by her good fortune.
By January of 2002, Leigh had already landed a series role on the Fox comedy That '80s Show (from the producers of "That '70s Show"). The mid season comedy series portrayed Leigh as a rebellious teenager on the Fox Network. After the short-lived run, the series was canceled, and Leigh was immediately brought to executive producer David E. Kelley for consideration in his new Fox series Girls Club. Three days later, Leigh was flown for the New York up-fronts where she was introduced as one of the new series leads, "Sarah Mickle", a young attorney, on Fox's 2002 Girls Club.
After only two episodes of Girls Club had aired, Leigh received a personal phone call from Kelley informing her of the show's cancellation and his desire to bring her forward to his already established series The Practice. With only a matter of weeks between shows, Leigh was at work on the set of ABC's The Practice as "Claire Wyatt", a new Series Regular for the 2002-2003 season. In 2004, Leigh was reunited with Fox for their new half hour comedy pilot "Lucky Us". Chyler landed the starring role of the free-wheeling conservative young architect, "Lucy Reed". Weeks later, Leigh made a guest starring appearance as "Kate Spangler", a feisty young ad exec, in Fox's new drama series North Shore".
Later in the season, Leigh took a brief break from Fox to shoot a series lead role opposite Billy Campbell in the WB's drama pilot Rocky Point. The series was centered on a young woman (Leigh) living on Hawaii's North Shore who takes in her estranged father (Campbell).
Most recently, Leigh has been tapped as a series regular on Fox's 2005 one hour pilot Reunion. Leigh will star as "Carla", the quirky good girl who we see transform throughout the emotional, dramatic series which follows her and her five closest friends from their high school graduation in 1986 to their 20th reunion. Reunion from Warner Bros. TV and Class IV Productions was written/created by Jon Harmon Feldman and will be directed by Jon Amiel. The pilot's executive producers include Stephen Pearlman, Andrew Plotkin and Jon Harmon Feldman.
One of Hollywood's most dazzling leading actresses, Salma Hayek was born on September 2, 1966, in the oil boomtown of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Hayek has freely admitted that she and her brother, Sami, were spoiled rotten by her well-to-do businessman father, Sami Hayek Dominguez, and her opera-singing mother, Diana Jiménez Medina. Her father is of Lebanese descent and her mother is of Mexican/Spanish ancestry. After having seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in a local movie theatre, Salma decided she wanted to become an actress. At 12, she was sent to the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she pulled pranks on the nuns by setting their clocks back three hours. She was soon expelled. Only after attending Mexico City's Universidad Iberoamericana did she feel ready to pursue acting seriously.
She soon landed the title role in Teresa, a hugely successful soap opera which earned her the star status in her native Mexico. However, anxious to make films and to explore her talent and passion, Hayek left both Teresa and Mexico in 1991. Heartbroken fans spread rumors that she was having a secret affair with Mexico's president and left to escape his wife's wrath.
At long last, Salma made her way to Los Angeles. The 24 year old actress approached Hollywood with naïve enthusiasm, and quickly learned that Latin actresses were, if at all, typecast as the mistress maid or local prostitute. By late 1992, Hayek had landed only bit parts. She appeared on Street Justice, The Sinbad Show, Nurses, and as a sexy maid on the HBO series Dream On. She also had one line in the Allison Anders film Mi vida loca. Feeling under-appreciated by Anglo filmmakers, Hayek vented her frustrations on comedian Paul Rodriguez's late-night Spanish-language talk show in 1992.
Robert Rodriguez and his producer wife Elizabeth Avellan happened to be watching and were immediately smitten with the intelligent, opinionated young woman. He soon gave her her big break--to star opposite Antonio Banderas in the now cult classic Desperado, which put her on Hollywood's map. The moviegoers proved to be as dazzled with Hayek as he had been. After her break, she was cast again by Rodriguez to star in his From Dusk Till Dawn. Although her vampy role opposite George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino was a small one, it was a good credit to her box office name. Hayek's first star billing came later that year with Fools Rush In opposite Friends actor Matthew Perry. The film was a modest hit, and Hayek continued to rise her star in both commercial and artistic films such as: Breaking Up with an unknown Russell Crowe; 54 about the rise and fall of the legendary New York club; Dogma, playing the muse in a somewhat odd comedy co-starring Matt Damon and Chris Rock; In the Time of the Butterflies, the small artistic film which won Hayek an ALMA award as best actress; and the 1999 summer blockbuster Wild Wild West. Her production company "Ventanarosa" produced the 1999 Mexican feature film No One Writes to the Colonel, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and selected as Mexico's official Oscar entry for best foreign film.
The new millennium started out quietly around Salma as she was preparing to produce and star in her dream role, that of Frida Kahlo, the legendary Mexican painter whom Salma had been admiring her entire life and whose story she wanted to bring to the big screen ever since her arrival in Hollywood. It finally happened in 2002. Frida, co-produced by Hayek, was a beautifully made film overflowing with passion and enthusiasm, with terrific performances from Salma and Alfred Molina as Kahlo's cheating husband "Diego Rivera". On the side was an entourage of stars including Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, Edward Norton and Valeria Golino.
The picture was a hit and was nominated for six Oscars, including best actress for Hayek, who became the first Latin actress to be nominated in the category, and won the awards for make-up and its brilliant original score by Elliot Goldenthal. Hayek established herself as the serious actress that she is and, in the same year, expanded her horizons, directing The Maldonado Miracle, which was shown at the Sundance Film festival. In 2003, she starred in the final of Rodriguez's "Desperado" trilogy Once Upon a Time in Mexico, again opposite Banderas, and has just finished After the Sunset opposite Pierce Brosnan and Ask the Dust opposite Colin Farrell. Both are scheduled for release in early 2005. In the works are Robert Altman's "Paint" and Bandidas in which she will star with her friend Penélope Cruz.
If "born to the theater" has meaning in determining a person's life path, then John Lithgow is a prime example of this truth. He was born in Rochester, New York, to Sarah Jane (Price), an actress, and Arthur Washington Lithgow III, who was both a theatrical producer and director. John's father was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, where the Anglo-American Lithgow family had lived for several generations.
John moved frequently as a child, while his father founded and managed local and college theaters and Shakespeare festivals throughout the Midwest of the United States. Not until he was 16, and his father became head of the McCarter Theater in Princeton New Jersey, did the family settle down. But for John, the theater was still not a career. He won a scholarship to Harvard University, where he finally caught the acting bug (as well as found a wife). Harvard was followed by a Fulbright scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Returning from London, his rigorous dramatic training stood him in good stead, and a distinguished career on Broadway gave him one Tony Award for "The Changing Room", a second nomination in 1985 for "Requiem For a Heavyweight", and a third in 1988 for "M. Butterfly". But with critical acclaim came personal confusion, and in the mid 1970s, he and his wife divorced. He entered therapy, and in 1982, his life started in a new direction, the movies - he received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp. A second Oscar nomination followed for Terms of Endearment, and he met a UCLA economics professor who became his second wife. As the decade of the 1990s came around, he found that he was spending too much time on location, and another career move brought him to television in the hugely successful series 3rd Rock from the Sun. This production also played a role in bringing him back together with the son from his first marriage, Ian Lithgow, who has a regular role in the series as a dimwitted student.
Martial artist and Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen was born to newspaper editor Klyster Yen and martial arts master Bow Sim Mark. At the age of four Yen started taking up martial arts from his mother, who taught him wushu and tai chi until the age of eleven when his family emigrated to Boston, MA. From there he continued mastering wushi and tai chi. But after developing a huge interest in martial arts he eventually began getting into various others martial art styles, such as taekwondo, kick-boxing, boxing, karate etc. When Yen was sixteen his parents sent him to Beijing Wushu Academy so he could train Chinese martial arts under Master Wu Bin, well known as the coach of Jet Li. He underwent intensive training for three years.
After three years Yen was about to leave back to the US but made a side trip to Hong Kong. There he was accidentally introduced to famous Hong Kong action film-maker Woo-Ping Yuen, who was responsible for bringing Jackie Chan to super stardom and was looking for someone new to star in his films. Yen was offered a screen test - which he passed - and thereafter a 4-picture deal. Yen started out with stunt doubling duty on the magical martial arts film The Miracle Fighters. From there he starred in his first film, Drunken Tai Chi at the age of 19. He continued his early film career working independently with Woo-Ping Yuen and also applied for acting lessons as well as roles in TV series at TVB to gain more acting experience. He started getting a bit of attention in the late 1980s and mid 1990s, after he was offered a contract by D&B Films Co's Dickson Poon. Poon gave Yen major roles in the action films Tiger Cage, In the Line of Duty 4 and Tiger Cage 2, which became cult classics after their initial releases. These films eventually spread outside the Hong Kong film circuit and gave Yen a good reputation as a formidable onscreen action performer. But after a while, the company did not do well and in the end went bankrupt. This left Yen with no choice but to go back to TVB as well as venture into low-budget film-making making films, such as Crystal Hunt and Revenge of the Cheetah.
But the misfortune didn't last long. Famous director Hark Tsui had just made a successful attempt to revive the kung fu genre with Once Upon a Time in China which starred Jet Li. For the sequel Once Upon a Time in China II Hark was looking for someone to play the new nemesis. Through Yen's early films and his rep as one of the most effective pound-for-pound on-screen fighters in Hong Kong, Hark became fascinated and decided to approach, discuss, and eventually cast him in the role of General Lan. The film became a turning point in Yen's career and his two fight scenes with Jet Li revolutionized the standards of Hong Kong martial arts choreography at the time, and are still regarded as among the best fight scenes ever created in Hong Kong film history. Another acclaim by critics and movie goers was Yen's acting performance. It was so outstanding that he was nominated for "Best Supporting Actor" at the 1992 Hong Kong Film Awards.
After the excellent showcase, Yen starred in other successful and classic films, such as Dragon Inn for director Raymond Lee and Butterfly and Sword by Michael Mak. But he still continued to work with Woo-Ping Yuen on films including Heroes Among Heroes, Iron Monkey and Wing Chun. But after creative differences between them became apparent, both of them decided it was best to work on their own so they ended up going separate ways and haven't collaborated with each other ever since.
During this period Yen got into TV and worked on a couple of series for ATV as actor and action director. The first was The Kung Fu Master which depicted the life of martial arts legend Hung Hei-Kwan. The TV series was a big success and Yen continued the success by action directing and starring in the second successful series; Fist of Fury. It retold the story of Chen Zhen, the character made famous by Bruce Lee in the original 1972 film classic with the same title. Aside the TV work, he was offered roles by prolific director/producer Jing Wong in films such as The Saint of Gamblers and got other offers which includes Circus Kids where he co-starred with action star Biao Yuen, and Asian Cop: High Voltage which was shot in the Philippines.
In 1996 - after fulfilling his contract deal with Wong Jing and returning deposit money to refuse making more films for him - Yen signed with the independent film company My Way Film Co. This became another turning point in his career in that he started learning directing and experimenting with film cameras. In 1997, he finally made his directorial debut with Legend of the Wolf and had created a different style of martial arts choreography. The film made a huge impact within fan communities around the world for its' daring, braving, and fresh attempt of accomplishing something new for the then dying martial arts action genre in Hong Kong. There was and still is a mixture of people both admiring and looking down on this particular style. Yen continued to work as lead actor/director/action director on films such as Ballistic Kiss, Shanghai Affairs. In 1999, he decided to try something different and ended up flying to Germany to work on the local TV film Der Puma - Kämpfer mit Herz and its' TV series counterpart.
In 2000, things took a turn for Yen once again when US-based film company Dimension Films called and offered him a major role in Highlander: Endgame as the immortal Jin Ke, making it his US debut. But sadly the film didn't perform well at the box-office and many fans consider it to be a part of its' own franchise. Nevertheless, Yen's fan-base consider his action scenes to be highlights of the film; especially his duel with Adrian Paul. To Dimension Films' credit though, offers followed shortly afterward. Yen was invited to work behind the camera on The Princess Blade for Japanese director Shinsuke Sato and Blade II by Guillermo del Toro, the latter of which he also appeared in as the mute vampire Snowman.
In 2002 and 2003 respectively, Yen's career further progressed after he took on two memorable roles. Firstly, highly acclaimed Chinese director Yimou Zhang offered Yen the part of assassin Sky in Hero starring Jet Li and resulted in one of the most anticipated Chinese films of 2002 which eventually became a mega hit around Asia. Secondly, director David Dobkin casted him alongside Jackie Chan as the traitorous Wu Chow in Shanghai Knights, the sequel to Shanghai Noon. This film marked the first time Yen worked with Chan in his career. Both of these collaborations gave Yen more recognition in the US and in Hong Kong, which in turn gave him more opportunities as an actor and action director.
In the same year Yen decided to put hold of pursuing a career in Hollywood and flew back to Hong Kong to find quality work. Through his good friend and Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan he signed up as action director for Vampire Effect, produced by Emperor Multimedia Group Co. (EMG) and starring the pop stars Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi with in a cameo appearance by Jackie Chan. The film earned him a nomination for "Best Action Design" at the 2003 Hong Kong Film Awards as well as the 2003 Golden Horse Awards, both of which he won prices for. He continued to work on few films after that, including Black Rose Academy as director and action director, and The Twins Effect II as actor where he once again worked with Jackie Chan on an anticipated fight scene which was satisfying enough for fans to see.
Later on in 2004 Yen's career took a totally different turn when Hark Tsui offered him a leading role in Seven Swords which was an adaptation of a lengthy novel written by Liang Yu-Sheng about seven warriors and their mystical swords. Despite the disappointing box-office reception when it was released locally, the film was nonetheless a great showcase for Yen as an actor and action performer unlike anything he did previously in his career. Around the same time, Yen also teamed up with acclaimed Hong Kong director Wilson Yip and together they made the highly anticipated crime drama SPL: Kill Zone. The film was remarkable in that it successfully combined strong acting and unique storytelling/visuals with groundbreaking martial arts action. This concept went on to become favored by action film fans and Hong Kong Cinema fans in general after its' release. Yen's way of shooting martial arts action - which was nothing like people had already seen - earned him a nomination and a price at the 2005 Hong Kong Film Awards for "Best Action Design". The movie also led to a trend of similar Hong Kong action films where storytelling/visuals along with hard-hitting action scenes were to be highlighted as much as possible.
After the success, Yen and Yip teamed up immediately for more projects which includes the comic book adaptation Dragon Tiger Gate and the hard-hitting action drama Flash Point, both of which were very successful at the box-office and within fan communities globally. These accomplishments made people regard Yen as the new pinnacle of Hong Kong martial arts/action films. Yen both earned the "Best Action Design" nomination at the 2006 Hong Kong Film Awards as well as the "Best Action Direction" nomination at 2006 Golden Bauhinia Awards for Dragon Tiger Gate. He won a price for the latter while he was awarded for his action design on Flash Point at both the 2007 Golden Bauhinia Awards and the 2007 Hong Kong Film Awards.
From there on Yen continued to work as a lead actor and also developed an interest in improving his acting skills. He got a leading role in the battle epic An Empress and the Warriors, directed by acclaimed Hong Kong action director Siu-Tung Ching, which was a big success in Mainland China. He continued work starring in the supernatural romance film Painted Skin by Gordon Chan. Then he starred in the martial arts biopic Ip Man helmed by Wilson Yip. This film was based on the life of one of Bruce Lee's wing chun teachers, Yip Man. The film became a sensational mega success all over Asia and people within the Hong Kong film industry started taking note after Wilson Yip's matured style of film-making, Sammo Hung's fresh martial arts choreography which many action film fans consider to be a redefinition of Hung's career as action director. But most impressive about the film for the audiences and critics was Yen's acting performance. During production, people had been very skeptical about Yen being the choice for the Yip Man role. But when the film was released, all pressure from the cast and crew were gone and people eventually went on to praise Yen for his portrayal of Yip Man. The success of the film also led to other successful directors and producers approaching Yen and giving him offers to work in front of the camera.
Through his progression in the Hong Kong film industry from the start - when he was just like other action performers in Hong Kong trying to make a name for themselves - to nowadays as arguably among the most offering leading Hong Kong actors and the most promising action director, as long as Donnie Yen is still active in film-making (whether working in front of or behind the camera), he will almost certainly break new grounds and create more innovative concepts of action choreography for the martial arts action genre.
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949, a decision for which he was severely criticized when his star began to dim in the 1960s and he was excoriated for squandering his talents. No actor ever exerted such a profound influence on succeeding generations of actors as did Brando. More than 50 years after he first scorched the screen as Stanley Kowalski in the movie version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and a quarter-century after his last great performance as Col. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, all American actors are still being measured by the yardstick that was Brando. It was if the shadow of John Barrymore, the great American actor closest to Brando in terms of talent and stardom, dominated the acting field up until the 1970s. He did not, nor did any other actor so dominate the public's consciousness of what WAS an actor before or since Brando's 1951 on-screen portrayal of Stanley made him a cultural icon. Brando eclipsed the reputation of other great actors circa 1950, such as Paul Muni and Fredric March. Only the luster of Spencer Tracy's reputation hasn't dimmed when seen in the starlight thrown off by Brando. However, neither Tracy nor Olivier created an entire school of acting just by the force of his personality. Brando did.
Marlon Brando, Jr. was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a calcium carbonate salesman, and his artistically inclined wife, the former Dorothy Julia Pennebaker. "Bud" Brando was one of three children. His ancestry included English, Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, and Scottish; his surname originated with a distant German immigrant ancestor named "Brandau". His oldest sister Jocelyn Brando was also an actress, taking after their mother, who engaged in amateur theatricals and mentored a then-unknown Henry Fonda, another Nebraska native, in her role as director of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Frannie, Brando's other sibling, was a visual artist. Both Brando sisters contrived to leave the Midwest for New York City, Jocelyn to study acting and Frannie to study art. Marlon managed to escape the vocational doldrums forecast for him by his cold, distant father and his disapproving schoolteachers by striking out for The Big Apple in 1943, following Jocelyn into the acting profession. Acting was the only thing he was good at, for which he received praise, so he was determined to make it his career - a high-school dropout, he had nothing else to fall back on, having been rejected by the military due to a knee injury he incurred playing football at Shattuck Military Academy, Brando Sr.'s alma mater. The school booted Marlon out as incorrigible before graduation.
Acting was a skill he honed as a child, the lonely son of alcoholic parents. With his father away on the road, and his mother frequently intoxicated to the point of stupefaction, the young Bud would play-act for her to draw her out of her stupor and to attract her attention and love. His mother was exceedingly neglectful, but he loved her, particularly for instilling in him a love of nature, a feeling which informed his character Paul in Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris") when he is recalling his childhood for his young lover Jeanne. "I don't have many good memories," Paul confesses, and neither did Brando of his childhood. Sometimes he had to go down to the town jail to pick up his mother after she had spent the night in the drunk tank and bring her home, events that traumatized the young boy but may have been the grain that irritated the oyster of his talent, producing the pearls of his performances. Anthony Quinn, his Oscar-winning co-star in Viva Zapata! told Brando's first wife Anna Kashfi, "I admire Marlon's talent, but I don't envy the pain that created it."
Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Konstantin Stanislavski, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theater would mark a watershed in American acting and culture.
Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in "I Remember Mama," a great success. As a young Broadway actor, Brando was invited by talent scouts from several different studios to screen-test for them, but he turned them down because he would not let himself be bound by the then-standard seven-year contract. Brando would make his film debut quite some time later in Fred Zinnemann's The Men for producer Stanley Kramer. Playing a paraplegic soldier, Brando brought new levels of realism to the screen, expanding on the verisimilitude brought to movies by Group Theatre alumni John Garfield, the predecessor closest to him in the raw power he projected on-screen. Ironically, it was Garfield whom producer Irene Mayer Selznick had chosen to play the lead in a new Tennessee Williams play she was about to produce, but negotiations broke down when Garfield demanded an ownership stake in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Burt Lancaster was next approached, but couldn't get out of a prior film commitment. Then director Elia Kazan suggested Brando, whom he had directed to great effect in Maxwell Anderson's play "Truckline Café," in which Brando co-starred with Karl Malden, who was to remain a close friend for the next 60 years.
During the production of "Truckline Café", Kazan had found that Brando's presence was so magnetic, he had to re-block the play to keep Marlon near other major characters' stage business, as the audience could not take its eyes off of him. For the scene where Brando's character re-enters the stage after killing his wife, Kazan placed him upstage-center, partially obscured by scenery, but where the audience could still see him as Karl Malden and others played out their scene within the café set. When he eventually entered the scene, crying, the effect was electric. A young Pauline Kael, arriving late to the play, had to avert her eyes when Brando made this entrance as she believed the young actor on stage was having a real-life conniption. She did not look back until her escort commented that the young man was a great actor.
The problem with casting Brando as Stanley was that he was much younger than the character as written by Williams. However, after a meeting between Brando and Williams, the playwright eagerly agreed that Brando would make an ideal Stanley. Williams believed that by casting a younger actor, the Neanderthalish Kowalski would evolve from being a vicious older man to someone whose unintentional cruelty can be attributed to his youthful ignorance. Brando ultimately was dissatisfied with his performance, though, saying he never was able to bring out the humor of the character, which was ironic as his characterization often drew laughs from the audience at the expense of Jessica Tandy's Blanche Dubois. During the out-of-town tryouts, Kazan realized that Brando's magnetism was attracting attention and audience sympathy away from Blanche to Stanley, which was not what the playwright intended. The audience's sympathy should be solely with Blanche, but many spectators were identifying with Stanley. Kazan queried Williams on the matter, broaching the idea of a slight rewrite to tip the scales back to more of a balance between Stanley and Blanche, but Williams demurred, smitten as he was by Brando, just like the preview audiences.
For his part, Brando believed that the audience sided with his Stanley because Jessica Tandy was too shrill. He thought Vivien Leigh, who played the part in the movie, was ideal, as she was not only a great beauty but she WAS Blanche Dubois, troubled as she was in her real life by mental illness and nymphomania. Brando's appearance as Stanley on stage and on screen revolutionized American acting by introducing "The Method" into American consciousness and culture. Method acting, rooted in Adler's study at the Moscow Art Theatre of Stanislavsky's theories that she subsequently introduced to the Group Theatre, was a more naturalistic style of performing, as it engendered a close identification of the actor with the character's emotions. Adler took first place among Brando's acting teachers, and socially she helped turn him from an unsophisticated Midwestern farm boy into a knowledgeable and cosmopolitan artist who one day would socialize with presidents.
Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Brando denounced Strasberg in his autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me" (1994), saying that he was a talentless exploiter who claimed he had been Brando's mentor. The Actors Studio had been founded by Strasberg along with Kazan and Stella Adler's husband, Harold Clurman, all Group Theatre alumni, all political progressives deeply committed to the didactic function of the stage. Brando credits his knowledge of the craft to Adler and Kazan, while Kazan in his autobiography "A Life" claimed that Brando's genius thrived due to the thorough training Adler had given him. Adler's method emphasized that authenticity in acting is achieved by drawing on inner reality to expose deep emotional experience
Interestingly, Elia Kazan believed that Brando had ruined two generations of actors, his contemporaries and those who came after him, all wanting to emulate the great Brando by employing The Method. Kazan felt that Brando was never a Method actor, that he had been highly trained by Adler and did not rely on gut instincts for his performances, as was commonly believed. Many a young actor, mistaken about the true roots of Brando's genius, thought that all it took was to find a character's motivation, empathize with the character through sense and memory association, and regurgitate it all on stage to become the character. That's not how the superbly trained Brando did it; he could, for example, play accents, whereas your average American Method actor could not. There was a method to Brando's art, Kazan felt, but it was not The Method.
After A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he received the first of his eight Academy Award nominations, Brando appeared in a string of Academy Award-nominated performances - in Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar and the summit of his early career, Kazan's On the Waterfront. For his "Waterfront" portrayal of meat-headed longshoreman Terry Malloy, the washed-up pug who "coulda been a contender," Brando won his first Oscar. Along with his iconic performance as the rebel-without-a-cause Johnny in The Wild One ("What are you rebelling against?" Johnny is asked. "What have ya got?" is his reply), the first wave of his career was, according to Jon Voight, unprecedented in its audacious presentation of such a wide range of great acting. Director John Huston said his performance of Marc Antony was like seeing the door of a furnace opened in a dark room, and co-star John Gielgud, the premier Shakespearean actor of the 20th century, invited Brando to join his repertory company.
It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionized American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean - who modeled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando - the young Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. After Brando, every up-and-coming star with true acting talent and a brooding, alienated quality would be hailed as the "New Brando," such as Warren Beatty in Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. "We are all Brando's children," Jack Nicholson pointed out in 1972. "He gave us our freedom." He was truly "The Godfather" of American acting - and he was just 30 years old. Though he had a couple of failures, like Désirée and The Teahouse of the August Moon, he was clearly miscast in them and hadn't sought out the parts so largely escaped blame.
In the second period of his career, 1955-62, Brando managed to uniquely establish himself as a great actor who also was a Top 10 movie star, although that star began to dim after the box-office high point of his early career, Sayonara (for which he received his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination). Brando tried his hand at directing a film, the well-reviewed One-Eyed Jacks that he made for his own production company, Pennebaker Productions (after his mother's maiden name). Stanley Kubrick had been hired to direct the film, but after months of script rewrites in which Brando participated, Kubrick and Brando had a falling out and Kubrick was sacked. According to his widow Christiane Kubrick, Stanley believed that Brando had wanted to direct the film himself all along.
Tales proliferated about the profligacy of Brando the director, burning up a million and a half feet of expensive VistaVision film at 50 cents a foot, fully ten times the normal amount of raw stock expended during production of an equivalent motion picture. Brando took so long editing the film that he was never able to present the studio with a cut. Paramount took it away from him and tacked on a re-shot ending that Brando was dissatisfied with, as it made the Oedipal figure of Dad Longworth into a villain. In any normal film Dad would have been the heavy, but Brando believed that no one was innately evil, that it was a matter of an individual responding to, and being molded by, one's environment. It was not a black-and-white world, Brando felt, but a gray world in which once-decent people could do horrible things. This attitude explains his sympathetic portrayal of Nazi officer Christian Diestl in the film he made before shooting One-Eyed Jacks, Edward Dmytryk's filming of Irwin Shaw's novel The Young Lions. Shaw denounced Brando's performance, but audiences obviously disagreed, as the film was a major hit. It would be the last hit movie Brando would have for more than a decade.
One-Eyed Jacks generated respectable numbers at the box office, but the production costs were exorbitant - a then-staggering $6 million - which made it run a deficit. A film essentially is "made" in the editing room, and Brando found cutting to be a terribly boring process, which was why the studio eventually took the film away from him. Despite his proved talent in handling actors and a large production, Brando never again directed another film, though he would claim that all actors essentially direct themselves during the shooting of a picture.
Between the production and release of One-Eyed Jacks, Brando appeared in Sidney Lumet's film version of Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending", The Fugitive Kind which teamed him with fellow Oscar winners Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. Following in Elizabeth Taylor's trailblazing footsteps, Brando became the second performer to receive a $1-million salary for a motion picture, so high were the expectations for this re-teaming of Kowalski and his creator (in 1961 critic Hollis Alpert had published a book "Brando and the Shadow of Stanley Kowalski). Critics and audiences waiting for another incendiary display from Brando in a Williams work were disappointed when the renamed The Fugitive Kind finally released. Though Tennessee was hot, with movie versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer burning up the box office and receiving kudos from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The Fugitive Kind was a failure. This was followed by the so-so box-office reception of One-Eyed Jacks in 1961 and then by a failure of a more monumental kind: Mutiny on the Bounty, a remake of the famed 1935 film.
Brando signed on to Mutiny on the Bounty after turning down the lead in the David Lean classic Lawrence of Arabia because he didn't want to spend a year in the desert riding around on a camel. He received another $1-million salary, plus $200,000 in overages as the shoot went overtime and over budget. During principal photography, highly respected director Carol Reed (an eventual Academy Award winner) was fired, and his replacement, two-time Oscar winner Lewis Milestone, was shunted aside by Brando as Marlon basically took over the direction of the film himself. The long shoot became so notorious that President John F. Kennedy asked director Billy Wilder at a cocktail party not "when" but "if" the "Bounty" shoot would ever be over. The MGM remake of one of its classic Golden Age films garnered a Best Picture Oscar nomination and was one of the top grossing films of 1962, yet failed to go into the black due to its Brobdingnagian budget estimated at $20 million, which is equivalent to $120 million when adjusted for inflation.
Brando and Taylor, whose Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century-Fox due to its huge cost overruns (its final budget was more than twice that of Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty), were pilloried by the show business press for being the epitome of the pampered, self-indulgent stars who were ruining the industry. Seeking scapegoats, the Hollywood press conveniently ignored the financial pressures on the studios. The studios had been hurt by television and by the antitrust-mandated divestiture of their movie theater chains, causing a large outflow of production to Italy and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s in order to lower costs. The studio bosses, seeking to replicate such blockbuster hits as the remakes of The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, were the real culprits behind the losses generated by large-budgeted films that found it impossible to recoup their costs despite long lines at the box office.
While Elizabeth Taylor, receiving the unwanted gift of reams of publicity from her adulterous romance with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, remained hot until the tanking of her own Tennessee Williams-renamed debacle Boom!, Brando from 1963 until the end of the decade appeared in one box-office failure after another as he worked out a contract he had signed with Universal Pictures. The industry had grown tired of Brando and his idiosyncrasies, though he continued to be offered prestige projects up through 1968.
Some of the films Brando made in the 1960s were noble failures, such as The Ugly American, The Appaloosa and Reflections in a Golden Eye. For every "Reflections," though, there seemed to be two or three outright debacles, such as Bedtime Story, Morituri, The Chase, A Countess from Hong Kong, Candy, The Night of the Following Day. By the time Brando began making the anti-colonialist picture Burn! in Colombia with Gillo Pontecorvo in the director's chair, he was box-office poison, despite having worked in the previous five years with such top directors as Arthur Penn, John Huston and the legendary Charles Chaplin, and with such top-drawer co-stars as David Niven, Yul Brynner, Sophia Loren and Taylor.
The rap on Brando in the 1960s was that a great talent had ruined his potential to be America's answer to Laurence Olivier, as his friend William Redfield limned the dilemma in his book "Letters from an Actor" (1967), a memoir about Redfield's appearance in Burton's 1964 theatrical production of "Hamlet." By failing to go back on stage and recharge his artistic batteries, something British actors such as Burton were not afraid to do, Brando had stifled his great talent, by refusing to tackle the classical repertoire and contemporary drama. Actors and critics had yearned for an American response to the high-acting style of the Brits, and while Method actors such as Rod Steiger tried to create an American style, they were hampered in their quest, as their king was lost in a wasteland of Hollywood movies that were beneath his talent. Many of his early supporters now turned on him, claiming he was a crass sellout.
Despite evidence in such films as The Appaloosa and Reflections in a Golden Eye that Brando was in fact doing some of the best acting of his life, critics, perhaps with an eye on the box office, slammed him for failing to live up to, and nurture, his great gift. Brando's political activism, starting in the early 1960s with his championing of Native Americans' rights, followed by his participation in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's March on Washington in 1963, and followed by his appearance at a Black Panther rally in 1968, did not win him many admirers in the establishment. In fact, there was a de facto embargo on Brando films in the recently segregated (officially, at least) southeastern US in the 1960s. Southern exhibitors simply would not book his films, and producers took notice. After 1968, Brando would not work for three years.
Pauline Kael wrote of Brando that he was Fortune's fool. She drew a parallel with the latter career of John Barrymore, a similarly gifted thespian with talents as prodigious, who seemingly threw them away. Brando, like the late-career Barrymore, had become a great ham, evidenced by his turn as the faux Indian guru in the egregious Candy, seemingly because the material was so beneath his talent. Most observers of Brando in the 1960s believed that he needed to be reunited with his old mentor Elia Kazan, a relationship that had soured due to Kazan's friendly testimony naming names before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. Perhaps Brando believed this, too, as he originally accepted an offer to appear as the star of Kazan's film adaptation of his own novel, The Arrangement. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Brando backed out of the film, telling Kazan that he could not appear in a Hollywood film after this tragedy. Also reportedly turning down a role opposite box-office king Paul Newman in a surefire script, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Brando decided to make Burn! with Pontecorvo. The film, a searing indictment of racism and colonialism, flopped at the box office but won the esteem of progressive critics and cultural arbiters such as Howard Zinn. He subsequently appeared in the British film The Nightcomers, a prequel to "Turn of the Screw" and another critical and box office failure.
Kazan, after a life in film and the theater, said that, aside from Orson Welles, whose greatness lay in filmmaking, he only met one actor who was a genius: Brando. Richard Burton, an intellectual with a keen eye for observation if not for his own film projects, said that he found Brando to be very bright, unlike the public perception of him as a Terry Malloy-type character that he himself inadvertently promoted through his boorish behavior. Brando's problem, Burton felt, was that he was unique, and that he had gotten too much fame too soon at too early an age. Cut off from being nurtured by normal contact with society, fame had distorted Brando's personality and his ability to cope with the world, as he had not had time to grow up outside the limelight.
Truman Capote, who eviscerated Brando in print in the mid-'50s and had as much to do with the public perception of the dyslexic Brando as a dumbbell, always said that the best actors were ignorant, and that an intelligent person could not be a good actor. However, Brando was highly intelligent, and possessed of a rare genius in a then-deprecated art, acting. The problem that an intelligent performer has in movies is that it is the director, and not the actor, who has the power in his chosen field. Greatness in the other arts is defined by how much control the artist is able to exert over his chosen medium, but in movie acting, the medium is controlled by a person outside the individual artist. It is an axiom of the cinema that a performance, as is a film, is "created" in the cutting room, thus further removing the actor from control over his art. Brando had tried his hand at directing, in controlling the whole artistic enterprise, but he could not abide the cutting room, where a film and the film's performances are made. This lack of control over his art was the root of Brando's discontent with acting, with movies, and, eventually, with the whole wide world that invested so much cachet in movie actors, as long as "they" were at the top of the box-office charts. Hollywood was a matter of "they" and not the work, and Brando became disgusted.
Charlton Heston, who participated in Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington with Brando, believes that Marlon was the great actor of his generation. However, noting a story that Brando had once refused a role in the early 1960s with the excuse "How can I act when people are starving in India?", Heston believes that it was this attitude, the inability to separate one's idealism from one's work, that prevented Brando from reaching his potential. As Rod Steiger once said, Brando had it all, great stardom and a great talent. He could have taken his audience on a trip to the stars, but he simply would not. Steiger, one of Brando's children even though a contemporary, could not understand it. When James Mason' was asked in 1971 who was the best American actor, he had replied that since Brando had let his career go belly-up, it had to be George C. Scott, by default.
Paramount thought that only Laurence Olivier would suffice, but Lord Olivier was ill. The young director believed there was only one actor who could play godfather to the group of Young Turk actors he had assembled for his film, The Godfather of method acting himself - Marlon Brando. Francis Ford Coppola won the fight for Brando, Brando won - and refused - his second Oscar, and Paramount won a pot of gold by producing the then top-grossing film of all-time, The Godfather, a gangster movie most critics now judge one of the greatest American films of all time. Brando followed his iconic portrayal of Don Corleone with his Oscar-nominated turn in the high-grossing and highly scandalous Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris"), the first film dealing explicitly with sexuality in which an actor of Brando's stature had participated. He was now again a Top-Ten box office star and once again heralded as the greatest actor of his generation, an unprecedented comeback that put him on the cover of "Time" magazine and would make him the highest-paid actor in the history of motion pictures by the end of the decade. Little did the world know that Brando, who had struggled through many projects in good faith during the 1960s, delivering some of his best acting, only to be excoriated and ignored as the films did not do well at the box office, essentially was through with the movies.
After reaching the summit of his career, a rarefied atmosphere never reached before or since by any actor, Brando essentially walked away. He would give no more of himself after giving everything as he had done in Last Tango in Paris", a performance that embarrassed him, according to his autobiography. Brando had come as close to any actor to being the "auteur," or author, of a film, as the English-language scenes of "Tango" were created by encouraging Brando to improvise. The improvisations were written down and turned into a shooting script, and the scripted improvisations were shot the next day. Pauline Kael, the Brando of movie critics in that she was the most influential arbiter of cinematic quality of her generation and spawned a whole legion of Kael wanna-bes, said Brando's performance in Last Tango in Paris had revolutionized the art of film. Brando, who had to act to gain his mother's attention; Brando, who believed acting at best was nothing special as everyone in the world engaged in it every day of their lives to get what they wanted from other people; Brando, who believed acting at its worst was a childish charade and that movie stardom was a whorish fraud, would have agreed with Sam Peckinpah's summation of Pauline Kael: "Pauline's a brilliant critic but sometimes she's just cracking walnuts with her ass." Probably in a simulacrum of those words, too.
After another three-year hiatus, Brando took on just one more major role for the next 20 years, as the bounty hunter after Jack Nicholson in Arthur Penn's The Missouri Breaks, a western that succeeded neither with the critics or at the box office. Following The Godfather and Tango, Brando's performance was disappointing for some reviewers, who accused him of giving an erratic and inconsistent performance. In 1977, Brando made a rare appearance on television in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations, portraying George Lincoln Rockwell; he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his performance. In 1978, he narrated the English version of Raoni, a French-Belgian documentary film directed by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux and Luiz Carlos Saldanha that focused on the life of Raoni Metuktire and issues surrounding the survival of the indigenous Indian tribes of north central Brazil.
Later in his career, Brando concentrated on extracting the maximum amount of capital for the least amount of work from producers, as when he got the Salkind brothers to pony up a then-record $3.7 million against 10% of the gross for 13 days work on Superman. Factoring in inflation, the straight salary for "Superman" equals or exceeds the new record of $1 million a day Harrison Ford set with K-19: The Widowmaker. He agreed to the role only on assurance that he would be paid a large sum for what amounted to a small part, that he would not have to read the script beforehand, and his lines would be displayed somewhere off-camera. Brando also filmed scenes for the movie's sequel, Superman II, but after producers refused to pay him the same percentage he received for the first movie, he denied them permission to use the footage.
Before cashing his first paycheck for Superman, Brando had picked up $2 million for his extended cameo in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in a role, that of Col. Kurtz, that he authored on-camera through improvisation while Coppola shot take after take. It was Brando's last bravura star performance. He co-starred with George C. Scott and John Gielgud in The Formula, but the film was another critical and financial failure. Years later though, he did receive an eighth and final Oscar nomination for his supporting role in A Dry White Season after coming out of a near-decade-long retirement. Contrary to those who claimed he now only was in it for the money, Brando donated his entire seven-figure salary to an anti-apartheid charity. He then did an amusing performance in the comedy The Freshman, winning rave reviews. He portrayed Tomas de Torquemada in the historical drama 1492: Conquest of Paradise, but his performance was denounced and the film was another box office failure. He made another comeback in the Johnny Depp romantic drama Don Juan DeMarco, which co-starred Faye Dunaway as his wife. He then appeared in The Island of Dr. Moreau, co-starring Val Kilmer, who he didn't get along with. The filming was an unpleasant experience for Brando, as well as another critical and box office failure.
Brando had first attracted media attention at the age of 24, when "Life" magazine ran a photo of himself and his sister Jocelyn, who were both then appearing on Broadway. The curiosity continued, and snowballed. Playing the paraplegic soldier of The Men, Brando had gone to live at a Veterans Administration hospital with actual disabled veterans, and confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks. It was an acting method, research, that no one in Hollywood had ever heard of before, and that willingness to experience life.
Shohreh Aghdashloo was born Shohreh Vaziri-Tabar on May 11, 1952 in Tehran, Iran. In the 1970s at age 20, she achieved nationwide stardom in her homeland of Iran, starring in some prominent pictures such as The Report directed by the renowned Abbas Kiarostami, which won critics awards at the Moscow Film Festival. In 1978, she won wider acclaim and established herself as one of Iran's leading ladies with Desiderium directed by the late Ali Hatami. During the 1978 Islamic revolution, Aghdashloo left Iran for England, to complete her education. Her interest in politics and her concern for social injustice in the world would lead her to receive a Bachelor's degree in International Relations.
She continued to pursue her acting career, which eventually brought her to Los Angeles, California in 1987. She went on to marry actor/playwright Houshang Touzie, performing in a number of his plays, successfully taking them to national and international stages. However, this was not easy getting work in Hollywood as a Middle Eastern actress with an accent; she had roles in some decent, though not great, films, including Twenty Bucks, Surviving Paradise and Maryam. She received good reviews for her 12 episodes on the fourth season of the Fox television series 24 as Dina Araz, a terrorist undercover as a well-to-do housewife and mother in Los Angeles. She had to wait quite some time to receive her break in Hollywood.
And finally, years after having read the acclaimed novel "House of Sand and Fog", DreamWorks were in the process of bringing the story to the silver screen. After having cast Ben Kingsley (as Massoud Amir Behrani) and Jennifer Connelly in the lead roles, they were looking for a relatively unknown Iranian actress to play Kingsley's wife, Nadi. Shohreh Aghdashloo was duly cast. She stole the limelight and earned herself an Academy Award nomination as best supporting actress amongst many other prestigious awards, including the Independent Spirit Sward as best supporting actress in a feature film, the New York and Los Angeles film critics award and others.
Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Bloom was born in Canterbury, Kent, England on January 13, 1977. His mother, Sonia Constance Josephine (Copeland), was born in Kolkata, India, to an English family then-resident there. The man he briefly knew as his father, Harry Bloom, was a legendary political activist who fought for civil rights in South Africa. But Harry died of a stroke when Orlando was only four years old. After that, Orlando and his older sister, Samantha Bloom, were raised by their mother and family friend, Colin Stone. When Orlando was thirteen, Sonia revealed to him that Colin is actually the biological father of Orlando and his sister; the two were conceived after an agreement by his parents, since Harry was then-unable to have children.
Orlando attended St. Edmunds School in Canterbury but struggled in many courses because of dyslexia. He did embrace the arts, however, and enjoyed pottery, photography and sculpturing. He also participated in school plays and was active at his local theater. As a teen, Orlando landed his first job: he was a clay trapper at a pigeon shooting range. Encouraged by his mother, he and his sister began studying poetry and prose, eventually giving readings at Kent Festival. Orlando and Samantha won many poetry and Bible reciting competitions. Then Orlando, who always idolized larger-than-life characters, gravitated towards serious acting. At the age of 16, he moved to London and joined the National Youth Theatre, spending two seasons there and gaining a scholarship to train with the British American Drama Academy. Like many young actors, he also auditioned for a number of television roles to further his career, landing bit parts in British television shows Casualty, Midsomer Murders and Smack the Pony. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed movie Wilde.
He then attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It was there, in 1998, that Orlando fell three stories from a rooftop terrace and broke his back. Despite fears that he would be permanently paralyzed, he quickly recovered and returned to the stage. As fate would have it, seated in the audience one night in 1999 was a director named Peter Jackson. After the show, he met with Orlando and asked him to audition for his new set of movies. After graduating from Guildhall, Orlando began work on the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, spending 18 months in New Zealand bringing to life "Legolas", a part which made him a household name. Today, he is one of the busiest and most sought-after actors in the industry.
Sophia Bush has captured film and television audiences, alike, with her range of roles and diverse characters She was born on July 8, 1982, in Pasadena, California. She is an only child. Her father, Charles William Bush, is a renowned advertising and celebrity photographer, and her mother, Maureen E. (Searson) Bush, runs a photography studio.
Sophia was brought up in Pasadena; she made her acting debut in a school theater production while attending Westridge School for Girls, a small private school in her hometown. She was crowned the Queen of the Tournament of Roses at Pasadena Rose Parade in 2000; that same year, she graduated from High School. In 2002, Sophia made her screen debut as Sally, a college student, in the comedy Van Wilder, opposite Ryan Reynolds. She attended the University of Southern California for three years, and took a Journalism major and Theatre minor, albeit she did not graduate, taking her leave of absence after getting the part as Brooke Davis, a flirtatious cheerleader on the WB TV series One Tree Hill. She was also cast to play opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nick Stahl in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, but, after she began principal photography on the film, the director deemed her too young for the role and she was soon replaced by actress Claire Danes. She was also featured in a three-episode arc on the provocative FX drama, Nip/Tuck.
Sophia got her big break when One Tree Hill developed a loyal following and became her steady gig. The show ran for nine season. Her character evolved from a trouble-making vixen to a fiercely loyal friend, and is a huge fan favorite. It was while working on the series that Bush began dating her on-screen love interest, actor Chad Michael Murray. They wed in April 2005, but split after five months, in September 2005. In December 2006, their divorce became final. Meanwhile, she continued to land big screen roles, such as October Bantum in Stay Alive, a horror film by writer/director William Brent Bell, and as Beth in John Tucker Must Die, a comedy by director Betty Thomas, co-starring Jesse Metcalfe and Brittany Snow. Bush is co-starring as Grace Andrews, who is terrorized by a killer played by Sean Bean, in the remake of The Hitcher, for Focus Features.
She starred in Serenade Films' The Narrows, a movie based on Tim McLoughlin's novel, "Heart of the Old Country". Bush played Kathy Popovich, an NYU student who attracts the attention of Mike Manadoro (Kevin Zegers), a fellow student with some shady connections. "The Narrows" was directed by François Velle. Bush was then seen in Table for Three, an independent comedy that takes a look at the tangled relationships between couples and roommates. The film co-starred Brandon Routh and Jesse Bradford.
Bush garnered the most individual Teen Choice Awards in 2007, taking home awards in the categories of "Choice Movie Actress: Comedy", "Choice Movie Actress: Horror/Thriller" and "Choice Movie: Breakout Female". In addition, she was also a recipient of the "Rising Star" Award at the 2007 Vail Film Festival as well as the "New Hollywood Style Icon" Award at the 2008 Hollywood Style Awards.
Sophia is a passionate philanthropist whose causes focus on the celebration of arts as well as the environment. She is an advocate of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, a foundation committed to the preservation of biodiversity within the Maasai tribal lands of East Africa. Funds support conservation, education, and health services within the Maasai community, as well as a host of programs designed to conserve Africa's legendary wildlife. She also contributes her time and talents to the Art of Elysium, a non-profit that enriches the lives of children battling serious medical conditions by bringing together artists to share their time and talent. She has also worked as an Assignment Editor for Annenberg TV News in her spare time. Her other talents include horseback riding, boxing, and photography. She enjoys reading and spending time with her friends, and resided in Wilmington, North Carolina, where One Tree Hill was filmed.
Elisabeth Röhm was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, to American writer Lisa Loverde, and Eberhard Röhm, a German-born partner at the law firm of Duane Morris LLP New York. They relocated to New York City, near Elisabeth's first birthday. An equestrian enthusiast, Elisabeth began competing professionally at the age of 5. She cultivated southern roots at St. Andrews Sewanee, a boarding school in Tennessee, later achieving an A average, majoring in European History (specifically related to the Second World War) with minors in theater and writing at Sarah Lawrence College.
Her first break in television came in a contracted role on One Life to Live, then starring opposite Kyle MacLachlan in The Invisible Man pilot. Next, she worked in England as a regular on the BBC series, Eureka Street, followed shortly by her recurring role on the American series, Angel. She was soon performing simultaneously on "Angel", and starring alongside Stanley Tucci on TNT's first serialized drama, Bull. Elisabeth went on to star as "A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn" for five years on Law & Order, winning two SAG awards with her ensemble cast.
Elisabeth began dividing her time between television and film, performing with Dylan McDermott and Michael Vartan on Big Shots, as well as taking a regular role on ABC's Heroes, while completing five features. She starred with Anjelica Huston and Danny Huston in Bernard Rose's The Kreutzer Sonata, with Kyra Sedgwick and Vincent D'Onofrio in Chlorine, with James Caan in Minkow, the Joel Silver-produced thriller, Transit, opposite Jim Caviezel and James Frain, and John Singleton's Abduction, with Taylor Lautner, Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina. Living in both New York and California, as well as holding dual citizenship in the United States and the EEC, allows Elisabeth to pursue diverse feature film work throughout the US and Europe.
Having recently lost her mother to health issues, Elisabeth has become an advocate for health, engaging in serious workouts at Circuit Works, the circuit training gym she opened in Brentwood, California.
The highlight of her life, daughter Easton August Anthony, is Elisabeth's main priority. Though it is always challenging to be a working mom, Elisabeth bridges the gap between motherhood and her professional career working with her daughter on behalf of "Juno Baby", a line of children's educational products, focusing their energies on making the world a happier, more literate place.
Inheriting the writing urge from her mother, Elisabeth's first novel, "Nerissa", was published in 2009 and is the story of a young painter laboring under sexism in the art world at the turn of the century. Her second novel, "Desire", due to be released in 2011, is set in New Orleans and centers on an unlikely friendship between a seven-year-old girl and a thirty-year-old Haitian woman.
Always an advocate for human rights, health and education, Elisabeth gives time to many causes. While on Law & Order, Elisabeth found time to serve as a board member of her alma matter, "Sarah Lawrence". She soon began working on behalf of the Red Cross as both an ambassador and a trained emergency volunteer, visiting troops and providing aid as faraway as Asia. She was honored as an advocate of the Red Cross for creating the "Hometown Heroes" campaign, featuring a multitude of volunteers, including Julianne Moore and Jamie Lee Curtis. Elisabeth also works with "Step Up Women's Network" - an after-school program for inner city girls in LA, and "MakeTheConnection.org", bringing attention to the connection between cervical cancer and HPV. She joined the "Humane Society" and Purina to encourage animal rescue and fostering, as she has done with the animals that enrich her own life, as well as supporting "Global Green", "The March of Dimes", and "Refugees International".
Elisabeth has also moved into producing, with several projects in development including reality television, scripted television and features.
Ethan Embry was born Ethan Philan Randall on June 13, 1978 in Huntington Beach, California, to Karen and Charles Randall. Before he started acting in movies, Ethan appeared in more than 100 TV and Radio commercials. In 1991, at the age of thirteen, he appeared in three films and has continued acting ever since. On average, Ethan released or filmed at least two films per year, which continued up until 1999, when he filmed about five films.
Ethan spent most of his childhood in Southern California, growing up with his older brother, Aaron (said to be one of the best musicians in LA), and his little sister, Kessia. In 1998, he bought a home of his own.
In the Fall of 1999, Ethan co-starred as Sebastian in the short-lived CBS sitcom Work with Me. Sadly, due to lack of ratings, the show ended after only four episodes. 1999, however, did bring a happy event, Ethan's then-wife, Amelinda Smith, gave birth to their first child, whom they named Cogeian, after the Latin word "cogeo," which means "to think over."
In the fall of 2000, Ethan starred as Derek Barnes in FreakyLinks on Fox. Thirteen episodes were shot, but the series was soon canceled after its debut. Later success include a role as detective Frank Smith on Dick Wolf's remake of the classic series Dragnet, a part in the recent cult classic Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and a guest-starring role on the series Numb3rs.
Actress Annet Mahendru was born to an Indian father (a journalist and professor) and a Russian mother (a businesswoman and artist). Annet spent her early years learning six languages while living in Afghanistan, Russia, and Europe. She put her curious mind to use playing competitive chess and earning a brown belt in Karate, sweeping a free sparring championship. At age 11, Annet choreographed a performance that gained her an appearance on German TV as a graceful Russian snow maiden that turns into a playful Indian dancer. Sad that her parents never signed her up for ballet classes as a little girl, she joined a local Rock 'n' Roll dance group, and later, began to study classical Indian dance, Bharatanatyam.
Annet finished high school in New York and received a Bachelor of Arts in English at St. John's University. After school, drawn by her passion for acting, she took classes at the HB studio, performed in plays, and Indie films. But it was in the course of pursuing a Master's degree in Global Affairs at NYU that Annet reached a crossroad in her life. She decided to drop out of NYU and escaped to the West Coast in search for yet another degree that would enable her to affect the kind of change she really wished for. This one was in Storytelling. Always being a big fan of Improvisation, she began studies at the Groundlings School and took on several comedy projects thereafter. Annet has also studied at the Imagined Life in Hollywood because she finds transformative experience and expression of the empathetic imagination to be the foundation of her work.
Everything, from growing up among a big Indian family on a healthy diet of Bollywood films to experiencing St. Petersburg's famous ballet, art and theatre scene, prepared Annet for her life as an ambassador of change through storytelling. Becoming an actress synthesized her many curiosities with her passion and mission.
Annet is best known for her starring role in the 2013 TV series The Americans, where she plays the role "Nina," the beautiful and mysterious spy opposite FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich). "Annet Mahendru has been a revelation as Nina, bringing the character to life with a rich and subtle depth that keeps you guessing as to what's really percolating under the surface," said Executive Producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields. Other credits include 2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, Big Time Rush, The Blacklist, The X Files and feature films Escape From Tomorrow and Love Gloria.
Sam Rockwell was born on November 5, 1968, in San Mateo, California, the child of two actors, Pete Rockwell and Penny Hess. The family moved to New York when he was two years old, living first in the Bronx and later in Manhattan. When Sam was five years old, his parents split up, at which point he and his father moved to San Francisco, where he subsequently grew up, while summers and other times were spent with his mother in New York.
He made his acting debut when he was ten years old, alongside his mother, and later attended J Eugene McAteer High School in a program called SOTA. While still in high school, he got his first big break when he appeared in the independent film Clownhouse. The plot revolved around three escaped mental patients who dressed up as clowns and terrorized three brothers home alone--Sam played the eldest of the brothers. His next big break was supposed to have come when he was slated to star in a short-lived NBC TV-series called Dream Street, but he was soon fired.
After graduating from high school, Sam returned to New York for good and for two years he had private training at the William Esper Acting Studio. During this period he appeared in a variety of roles, such as the ABC Afterschool Specials: Over the Limit (1990) (TV) and HBO's Lifestories: Families in Crisis: Dead Drunk: The Kevin Tunell Story (Season 1 Episode 7: 15 March 1993); the head thug in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; and a guest-star turn in an Emmy-winning episode of Law & Order, while working a string of regular day jobs and performing in plays.
In 1994, a Miller Ice beer commercial finally enabled him to quit his other jobs to concentrate on his acting career, which culminated in him having five movies out by 1996: Basquiat; The Search for One-eye Jimmy; Glory Daze; Mercy; and Box of Moon Light. It was the latter film that would prove to be his real break-out in the industry. In Tom DiCillo's film, he found himself playing an eccentric named the Kid, a man-child living in a half-built mobile home in the middle of nowhere with a penchant for dressing like Davy Crockett, who manages to bring some much-needed chaos into the life of an electrical engineer played by John Turturro. The movie was not a box-office success, but it managed to generate a lot of critical acclaim for itself and Sam.
In 1997 he found himself the star of another critically lauded film, Lawn Dogs. Once again he portrayed a societal outcast as Trent, a working-class man living in a trailer, earning a living mowing lawns inside a wealthy, gated Kentucky community. Soon Trent finds himself befriended by 10-year-old Devon (Mischa Barton), and the movie deals with the difficulties in their friendship and the outside world. He also gave strong performances in the quirky independent comedy Safe Men, in which he plays one half of a pretty awful singing duo (the other half being played by Steve Zahn) that gets mistaken for two safe-crackers by Jewish gangsters; and the offbeat hit-man trainee in Jerry and Tom against Joe Mantegna.
After a few smaller appearances in films such as Woody Allen's Celebrity and the 1999 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which he played Francis Flute, he had larger parts in two of the bigger hit movies to emerge in 1999: The Green Mile and Galaxy Quest, wowing audiences and critics alike with his chameleon-like performances as a crazed killer in the former and a goofy actor in the latter.
More recently, he appeared in another string of mainstream films, most notably as Eric Knox in Charlie's Angels and as Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, while continuing to perform in smaller independent movies. After more than ten years in the business, Sam has earned his success.
One of our most exciting and versatile actresses, Selma Blair first gained attention for her performance in Cruel Intentions, a youthful retelling of the classic novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses".
Selma was born in Southfield, Michigan, to Molly Ann (Cooke), a judge, and Elliot I. Beitner, a lawyer. She had a Jewish upbringing. After graduating from high school in Michigan, Selma moved to New York City to pursue her goal of being a photographer but found her way to acting classes at The Stella Adler Conservatory and Stonestreet Studios.
Selma starred for two seasons as the title character in the WB's Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane and then appeared in the hit comedy, Legally Blonde opposite Reese Witherspoon. She then starred opposite Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate in The Sweetest Thing and in two independent films that garnered her much critical acclaim: Dana Lustig's Kill Me Later and Todd Solondz's controversial Storytelling.
In 2004, Selma starred in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy and appeared in John Waters's A Dirty Shame. Her other film credits include Paul Weitz's In Good Company, opposite Topher Grace in Pretty Persuasion, opposite Stellan Skarsgård in The Killing Gene, in Ed Burns's Purple Violets, in Robert Benton's Feast of Love starring opposite Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear.and Newton Thomas Sigel's award-winning short film, The Big Empty opposite Elias Koteas.
2008 was a busy year for Selma Blair. After My Mom's New Boyfriend (aka "Homeland Security"), Selma returned to the big screen as "Liz Sherman" in Guillermo del Toro's blockbuster sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She also starred in an independent film by writer and director Lori Petty, titled The Poker House, starring opposite Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, Jennifer Lawrence. In the fall of 2008, Selma went to television and shot one season with NBC's Kath & Kim, starring opposite Molly Shannon. In the fall of 2009, Selma took to the stage and played "Kathleen" in award-winning playwright Rajiv Joseph's "Gruesome Playground Injuries". In 2010, Selma starred in the suspense thriller, Columbus Circle, starring opposite Jason Lee, Amy Smart, Giovanni Ribisi and Kevin Pollak. Selma did some shorts during 2010, including 3 episodes of Lisa Kudrow's Web Therapy, a Danko Jones music video starring opposite Elijah Wood, a guest episode of Fred Armisen's web TV show Portlandia and a Mollie Jones short titled Animal Love. Selma completed two films in 2011. In Their Skin, a home invasion thriller, starring opposite James D'Arcy, and Dark Horse - Todd Solondz's latest film starring opposite Jordan Gelber, Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow. Dark Horse was selected for competition and is set to have its world premiere at the 68th annual Venice Film Festival followed by the Toronto Film Festival in September of 2011. 2011 also brings Selma Blair's latest project, motherhood. Selma and her "Ever Clothing" fashion designer boyfriend, Jason Bleick, welcomed their son, Arthur Saint Bleick, on July 25th 2011.
Screen legend, superstar, and the man with the most famous blue eyes in movie history, Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, the second son of Theresa (Fetsko) and Arthur Sigmund Newman. Paul's father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Poland and Hungary; he owned a successful sporting goods store. Paul's mother, a practicing Christian Scientist of Slovak decent, and his uncle Joe, had an interest in creative arts, and it rubbed off on him. He acted in grade school and high school plays. The Newmans were a well-to-do family, and Paul grew up in a nice home in Shaker Heights.
By 1950, the 25-year-old Newman had been kicked out of Ohio University for unruly behavior, served three years in the United States Navy during World War II as a radio operator, graduated from Ohio's Kenyon College, married his first wife, Jackie, and had his first child, Scott. 1950 was also the year that Paul's father died. When he became successful in later years, Newman said if he had any regrets it would be that his father wasn't around to see it. He brought Jackie back to Shaker Heights and he ran his father's store for a short period. Then, knowing that wasn't the career path he wanted to take, he moved Jackie and Scott to New Haven, Connecticut, where he attended Yale University's School of Drama. While doing a play there, Paul was spotted by two agents, who invited him to come to New York City to pursue a career as a professional actor. After moving to New York, Paul acted in guest spots for various television series and in 1953 came a big break. He got the part of understudy of the lead role in the successful Broadway play "Picnic". Through this play, he met actress Joanne Woodward, who was also an understudy in the play. While they got on very well and there was a strong attraction, Paul was married and his second child, Susan, was born that year. During this time, Newman was also accepted into the much admired and popular New York Actors Studio, although he wasn't technically auditioning.
In 1954, a film Paul was very reluctant to do was released, The Silver Chalice. He considered his performance in this costume epic to be so bad that he took out a full-page ad in a trade paper apologizing for it to anyone who might have seen it. He had always been embarrassed about the film and reveled in making fun of it. He immediately wanted to return to the stage, and performed in "The Desperate Hours". In 1956, Newman got the chance to redeem himself in the film world by portraying boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me, and critics praised his performance. In 1957, with a handful of films to his credit, he was cast in The Long, Hot Summer, co-starring none other than Joanne Woodward. During the shooting of this film, they realized they were meant to be together and by now, so did Paul's wife Jackie. After Jackie gave Paul a divorce, he and Joanne married in Las Vegas in January 1958. They went on to have three daughters together and raised them in Westport, Connecticut. In 1959, Paul received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The 1960s would bring Paul Newman into superstar status, as he became one of the most popular actors of the decade, and garnered three more Best Actor Oscar nominations, for The Hustler, Hud and Cool Hand Luke. In 1968, his debut directorial effort Rachel, Rachel was given good marks, and although the film and Joanne Woodward were nominated for Oscars, Newman was not nominated for Best Director. However, he did win a Golden Globe Award for his direction.
1969 brought the popular screen duo Paul Newman and Robert Redford together for the first time when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was released. It was a box office smash. Through the 1970s, Newman had hits and misses from such popular films as The Sting and The Towering Inferno to lesser known films as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean to a cult classic Slap Shot. After the death of his only son, Scott, in 1978, Newman's personal life and film choices moved in a different direction. His acting work in the 1980s and on is what is often most praised by critics today. He became more at ease with himself and it was evident in The Verdict for which he received his sixth Best Actor Oscar nomination and in 1987 finally received his first Oscar for The Color of Money. Friend and director of Somebody Up There Likes Me, Robert Wise accepted the award on Newman's behalf as he did not attend the ceremony. Films were not the only thing on his mind during this period. A passionate race car driver since the early 1970s, Newman became co-owner of Newman-Haas racing in 1982, and also founded "Newman's Own", a successful line of food products that has earned in excess of $100 million, every penny of which Newman donated to charity. He also started The Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, an organization for children with serious illness. He was as well known for his philanthropic ways and highly successful business ventures as he was for his legendary actor status.
Newman enjoyed a 50-year marriage to Joanne in Connecticut, their main residence since moving away from the bright lights of Hollywood in 1960. Renowned for his sense of humor, in 1998 he quipped that he was a little embarrassed to see his salad dressing grossing more than his movies. During his later years, he still attended races, was much involved in his charitable organizations, and in 2006, he opened a restaurant called Dressing Room, which helps out the Westport Country Playhouse, a place that Paul took great pride in. In 2007, he made some headlines when he said that he was losing his invention and confidence in his acting abilities and that acting is "pretty much a closed book for me." He died on September 26, 2008 at age 83 of lung cancer. Whether he was on the screen or not, Paul Newman remained synonymous with the anti-heroism of the 1960s and 1970s cinema, and with the rebellious nature his characters so often embodied.
Christian Michael Leonard Slater was born on August 18, 1969 in New York City, to Michael Hawkins, a well-known soap actor, and Mary Jo Slater (née Lawton), a casting agent. Christian started in show business early, appearing on the soap opera The Edge of Night in 1976 at the age of 7. He went on to star in many Broadway shows in the early-1980s. He rose to fame in Hollywood after landing the role of Binx Davey in The Legend of Billie Jean. He moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to pursue a further acting career after dropping out of high school. After having a starring role in the cult classic Heathers, he became somewhat known as the Hollywood bad-boy, having many run-ins with the law. He is also well-known for having dated stars such as Winona Ryder, Christina Applegate, Samantha Mathis and was at one time engaged to actress/model Nina Huang. In 2000, he married Ryan Haddon, the daughter of 1970s model Dayle Haddon. The couple have two children, Jaden Christopher (b. 1999) and Eliana Sophia (b. 2001). As of early 2005, they separated and later divorced, but remain dedicated to bring up their children.
Andrew Clement G. Serkis was born April 20, 1964, in Ruislip Manor, West London, England. He has three sisters and a brother. His father, Clement Serkis, an ethnic Armenian whose original family surname was "Serkissian", was a Medical Doctor working abroad, in Iraq; the Serkis family spent a lot of time traveling around the Middle East. For the first ten years of his life, Andy Serkis used to go backwards and forwards between Baghdad and London. His mother, Lylie (Weech), who is British-born, was busy working as a special education teacher of handicapped children, so Andy and his four siblings were raised with au pairs in the house. Young Andy Serkis wanted to be an artist; he was fond of painting and drawing, and visualized himself working behind the scenes in productions. He attended St. Benedict's School, a Roman Catholic School for boys at the Benedictine Abbey in London. Serkis studied visual arts at Lancaster University in the north-west of England. There, he became involved in mechanical aspects of the theatre and did stage design and set building for theatrical productions. Then, Serkis was asked to play a role in a student production, and made his stage debut in Barrie Keeffe's play, "Gotcha"; thereafter, he switched from stage design to acting, which was a real calling that transformed his life.
Instead of going to an acting college, Serkis, in 1985, began his professional acting career at the Duke's Playhouse in Lancaster, where he was given an Equity card and performed in fourteen plays, one after another, as an apprentice of Jonathan Petherbridge. After that, he worked in touring theatre companies, doing it for no money, fueled by a sense of enthusiasm, moving to a new town every week. He has thus appeared in a host of popular plays and on almost every renowned British stage. In 1989, he appeared in a stage production of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth", so beginning his long association with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, where he would return many times, to appear in "She Stoops to Conquer", "Your Home in the West" and the "True Nature of Love", among other plays. In the 1990s, Serkis began to make his mark on the London stage, appearing at the Royal Court Theatre as "The Fool" in "King Lear", making his interpretation of "The Fool" as the woman that "Lear", a widower, could relate to - a man, in drag, as a Victorian musician. He also appeared as "Potts" in the hit play, "Mojo", playing in front of full houses and earning huge critical success. In 1987, Serkis made his debut on television, and he acted in several major British TV miniseries throughout the 1990s.
In 1999, Andy Serkis landed the prize role of "Gollum" in Peter Jackson's epic film trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's saga, "The Lord of the Rings". He spent four years in the part and received awards and nominations for his performance as "Gollum", a computer-generated character in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which won 11 Oscars. "Gollum" was the collaborative team's effort around Serkis's work in performance capture - an art form based on CGI-assisted acting. Serkis's work was an interactive performance in a skin-tight CGI suit with markers allowing cameras to track and register 3D position for each marker. Serkis' every nuance was picked up by several cameras positioned at precisely calculated angles to allow for the software to see enough information to process the image. The images of Serkis' performances were translated into the digital format by animators at Weta Digital studio in New Zealand. There, his image was key-frame animated and then edited into the movie, Serkis did have one scene in "The Return of the King" showing how he originally had the ring, killing another hobbit to posses it after they found it during a fishing trip. He drew from his three cats clearing fur balls out of their throats to develop the constricted voice he produced for "Gollum" and "Sméagol", and it was also enhanced by sound editing in post-production.
Serkis spent almost two years in New Zealand and away from his family, and much of 2002 and 2003 in post-production studios for large periods of time, due to complexity of the creative process of bringing the character of "Gollum" to the screen. Serkis had to shoot two versions for every scene; one version was with him on camera, acting with (chiefly) Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, which served both to show Wood and Astin the moves so that they could precisely interact with the movements of "Gollum", and to provide the CGI artists the subtleties of Gollum's physical movements and facial expressions for their manual finishing of the animated images. In the other version, he'd do the voice off-camera, as Wood and Astin repeated their movements as though "Gollum" were there with them; that take would be the basis for inserting the CGI Gollum used in the released movie. In post-production, Serkis was doing motion-capture wearing a skintight motion capture suit with CGI gear while acting as a virtual puppeteer redoing every single scene in the studio. Additional CGI rotomation was done by animators using the human eye instead of the computer to capture the subtleties of Serkis' performance. Serkis also used this art form in his performance as "Kong" in King Kong, which won him a Toronto Film Critics Association Award (2005) for his unprecedented work helping to realize the main character in "King Kong", and a Visual Effects Society Award (2006) for Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture.
Apart from his line of CGI-driven characters, Serkis continued with traditional acting in several leading and supporting roles, such as his appearances as "Richard Kneeland" opposite Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30, and "Alley" opposite David Bowie in The Prestige, among other film performances. On television, he starred as 'Vincent Van Gogh' in the sixth episode of Simon Schama's Power of Art, the BBC2 series about artists. Serkis is billed as "Capricorn" in the upcoming adventure film, Inkheart. At the same time, he continued the development of performance capture while expanding his career into computer games. He starred as "King Bothan" in the martial arts drama, Heavenly Sword, a Playstation 3 title, for which he provided a basis for his in-game face and also acts as a dramatic director on the project.
Andy Serkis married actress and singer Lorraine Ashbourne, and the couple have three children: daughter Ruby Serkis (born in 1998), and two sons Sonny Serkis (born in 2000) and Louis George Serkis (born on 19 June 2004). Away from acting, Andy Serkis is an accomplished amateur painter. Since his school years at Lancaster, being so close to the Lake District, Serkis developed his other passion in life: mountaineering. He is pescetarian. Serkis has been active in charitable causes, such as The Hope Foundation, which provides essential life-saving medical aid for children suffering from Leukemia and children from countries devastated by war. In October 2006, he was a presenter at the first annual British Academy Video Games Awards at the Roundhouse, London. Andy Serkis lives with his family in North London, England.
An outrageous cueball-domed comedian of film and TV satire, fortified by a dazzling, sly smile, New York-born Damon Wayans is the third of ten children of Elvira Alethia (Green), a social worker and singer, and Howell Wayans, a supermarket manager. He grew up humbly in the Fulton Housing Projects. He began zeroing in on his comedic skills while still a child, conjuring up a number of weird characters that were later utilized on his older brother Keenen Ivory Wayans' ground-breaking In Living Color, the show that made Damon a huge comedy star.
Ostracized by other children due to a severe physical disability - a club foot - humor was a strong part of helping Damon overcome a severely painful and debilitating childhood. He wore leg braces, orthopedic shoes and endured numerous surgeries before his affliction was corrected. Dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, he worked various jobs (mail clerk, etc.) until following older brother Keenen out to Hollywood to seek comedy fame and fortune. Doing the typical L.A. stand-up scene starting in 1982, he toured in national comedy club circuits until earning a regular featured slot on Saturday Night Live for one season (1985-1986). On the big screen he had a number of bit parts in films that showcased Hollywood's top comedians, including Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, his movie debut, and Steve Martin in Roxanne. He also appeared briefly in brother Keenen's film spoofs Hollywood Shuffle and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.
Damon gained major notice as an alien alongside Jeff Goldblum and future co-star Jim Carrey in the wild and woolly Earth Girls Are Easy, as well as in various supporting roles that included Punchline with Tom Hanks and the grim cop drama Colors with Sean Penn. Smart-alec superstardom, however, came to him via the TV (thanks again to older brother Keenen) in the form of the landmark sketch variety series "In Living Color". The show, created and hosted by Keenen, gave Damon a showcase in which he easily broke out among the talented ensemble players with his eclectic gallery of sketch characters that usually bordered on raunch: Homey the Clown, the disabled Handiman and the outrageously gay film critic Blaine Edwards from the "Men on Film" skits. In 1992 Damon followed brother Keenan off the popular show over creative and financial issues.
For the last decade and a half the slyly sarcastic comic has become his own "Man on Film." He was Bruce Willis' partner in the noticeably violent crime thriller The Last Boy Scout; wrote, executive-produced and starred as a former con man trying to mend his ways in Mo' Money, which also featured younger brother Marlon Wayans; expanded his "In Living Color" handicapped superhero character Handiman into feature-length form with Blankman; played an in-your-face drill sergeant in the aptly titled Major Payne; co-starred with Adam Sandler as a cop bringing in a petty crook (Adam Sandler) in the action comedy Bulletproof; joined in the basketball-themed Celtic Pride; and stretched his acting muscles in Spike Lee's comedy-drama Bamboozled. He was also executive producer on Waynehead, a Saturday morning animated show based on his childhood that featured the voices of younger sibs Kim Wayans, Marlon and Shawn Wayans.
Although his strongest suit is still in stand-up (he has starred in several HBO comedy specials), Damon went back to steady TV employment as star and executive producer of the sitcom My Wife and Kids. Divorced from his wife Lisa, he is the father of four, including actor Damon Wayans Jr..
Jay Baruchel was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and was raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is the son of Robyne (Ropell), a freelance writer, and Serge Victor Baruchel, an antiques dealer. He has a younger sister who also acts. He started acting in 1995 when he made his first of three appearances on the hit show Are You Afraid of the Dark?. He was also in more localized shows such as My Hometown and Popular Mechanics for Kids.
Baruchel had spent some downtime and finally got a chance to be in a classic film called Almost Famous in 2000. He played "Vic", a devout fan of Led Zeppelin. Judd Apatow soon had a show in the works and Baruchel played "Steven Karp" on Undeclared. He also had the chance to star alongside actors such as Ian Somerhalder and James Van Der Beek as "Harry" in The Rules of Attraction. Things began to slow down a bit after a couple more failed shows.
Soon enough, Baruchel came back as the courageous "Danger Barch" in Million Dollar Baby. Bringing life to a role that could have been ruined so easily, Baruchel made "Danger" a well-loved character. The best part about this actor is his loyalty to his home country. He loves to be able to work in Canada as often as possible. He has been in many fantastic independent films such as Fetching Cody, Just Buried and Real Time. All three of those films appeal to sides of a person that are never known to exist until it's too late.
He was also in many successful American comedy films. He was the lead in She's Out of My League and played one of Seth Rogen's best friends (which he really is) in the movie Knocked Up. He's also made his mark in family-friendly films such as How to Train Your Dragon, playing the unlikely "Viking Hiccup" and also played the title role in The Sorcerer's Apprentice alongside his newly-found kindred spirit, actor Nicolas Cage.
It is no secret that while he enjoys acting, it truly is a means to an end. He lived his dream as he worked on the hockey comedy Goon, and is working on many other films that are what he considers to be passion projects. Now he is making films that he has been preparing for all of his life and nothing can slow him down.
Brendan Gleeson was born in Dublin, Ireland, to Pat and Frank Gleeson. From a very young age, he loved to learn, especially reading classical text in and outside the classroom. He took great attention to Irish play writers such as Samuel Beckett, which eventually led to him performing in his high school play production of "Waiting for Godot", and paying great attention to detail in his high school drama classes. Upon finishing 12th grade, he spent a couple of years with the Dublin Shakespeare Festival, and under the advice of a director there, headed across to London and auditioned for drama schools. Soon to follow, he was invited to audition for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon, and spent a couple of seasons back in England on the stage. He then, at the age of thirty five, decided to audition for films in the UK and began to build a very respectable resume playing many different diverse characters.
He made his debut as a quarryman in The Field. He had several small roles in major Hollywood movies based in Ireland, such as Far and Away and Into the West. Memorably played historical Irish figure "Michael Collins" in The Treaty. Made his breakthrough in Scottish themed Braveheart, which was largely filmed in Ireland, opposite Mel Gibson. He played Gibson's right-hand man "Hamish". Since then, he has appeared in numerous major films such as Mission: Impossible II, Lake Placid, Turbulence. He has made a name for himself taking the titular role in The General, based on the life of Irish criminal "Martin Cahill", for which he won the Boston Society of Film Critics Award. He appears in director John Boorman's film The Tailor of Panama as well as Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Ever since, he has continued to bring his huge stage presence to the screen, always delivering the character in full development to his audience. He is married to his lovely wife, Mary, since 1982. They have four sons.
Elizabeth Ann Perkins was born on November 18, 1960, in the borough of Queens, New York, and was raised in Vermont. Her mother, Jo Williams, was a concert pianist and drug treatment counselor, and her father, James Perkins, was a businessman, farmer, and writer. She is of Greek and English descent. Perkins studied acting at Chicago's Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University for three years, then launched her professional career with a co-starring gig in the touring company of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs. Seasoned, she returned to New York in the spring of 1984 to make her Broadway debut as a replacement in the Simon play. As a stage actress, she has trod the boards with Playwrights Horizon, the Ensemble Studio, The New York Shakespeare Festival, and, back in Chcago, with the Steppenwolf Theater. She found time out to marry the Chicago actor Terry Kinney.
Her first major film role was in the underwhelming screen adaptation of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," which was turned into a Rob Lowe/Demi Moore star vehicle retitled About Last Night.... Perkins sparkled as the grown woman interested in Tom Hanks in Big, but her career was spotty and she never gained the traction to bring her the stardom that seemed to be within her grasp. In 1991, Perkins starred with Kevin Bacon in He Said, She Said (thus giving her a Bacon Factor of exactly 1) but, sadly, for such a talented actress, her biggest box-office hit has proven to be The Flintstones, in which she portrayed Wilma.
Perkins made her television debut in For Their Own Good, a 1993 TV movie based on the true story of a woman who underwent mandatory sterilization to work in a chemical plant. She starred in the NBC comedy series Battery Park produced by Gary David Goldberg (who recently directed her in Must Love Dogs in a supporting role to her good friend Diane Lane), and HBO's If These Walls Could Talk 2. Her other TV work includes Babilônia 2000, Rescuers: Stories of Courage: Two Women, and From the Earth to the Moon in an episode directed by Sally Field.
Perkins divorced Kinney and now is married to the cinematographer Julio Macat. Recently, she starred in John Patrick Shanley's black comedy "Four Dogs and a Bone" at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse. She also has a starring role in the series Weeds for Showtime. Her talent, personality, and good looks keep her steadily employed, and it wouldn't be surprising if now, on the other side of 40, she makes a breakthrough and does some major work commensurate with her early promise.
Widely regarded as the greatest stage actor of his generation, Mark Rylance has enjoyed an esteemed career on stage and on screen, and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Rudolf Abel in Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies. He is also the winner of 2 Olivier Awards and 3 Tony Awards, as well as a BAFTA for his role in The Government Inspector. His film appearances also include Prospero's Books (1991), Angels and Insects (1995), Institute Benjamenta (1996), Intimacy (2001), and Spielberg's The BFG.
Rylance was born in Ashford, Kent, the son of Anne (née Skinner) and David Waters, both English teachers. His grandmother was Irish. His parents moved to Connecticut in 1962 and Wisconsin in 1969, where his father taught English at the University School of Milwaukee. Rylance attended this school. He starred in most of the school's plays with the theatre's director, Dale Gutzman, including the lead in a 1976 production of Hamlet. He played Romeo in the school's production of Romeo and Juliet.
Mark was the first artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, from 1995 to 2005. Rylance made his professional debut at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow in 1980. He went on to win the Olivier Award for Best Actor for Much Ado About Nothing in 1994 and Jerusalem in 2010, and the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for Boeing Boeing in 2008 and Jerusalem in 2011. He won a third Tony Award in 2014 for Twelfth Night. On television, he won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his role as David Kelly in the 2005 Channel 4 drama The Government Inspector and was nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA TV Award for playing Thomas Cromwell in the 2015 BBC Two miniseries Wolf Hall.
In 2007, Rylance performed in Boeing-Boeing in London. In 2008, he reprise the role on Broadway and won Drama Desk and Tony Awards for his performance. In 2009, Rylance won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award Best Actor, 2009 for his role of Johnny Byron in Jerusalem written by Jez Butterworth at the Royal Court Theatre in London. In 2010, Rylance starred in a revival of David Hirson's verse play La Bête. The play ran first at London's Comedy Theatre before transferring to the Music Box Theatre on Broadway, on 23 September 2010. Also in 2010, he won another Olivier award for best actor in the role of Johnny Byron in Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre in London. In 2011, he won his second Tony Award for playing the same role in the Broadway production. He played Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall (2015), BBC Two's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. For his performance, he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. Rylance was featured as the castaway on the BBC radio program Desert Island Discs on 15 February 2015.
Rylance co-starred in the biographical drama Bridge of Spies, released in October 2015, directed by Spielberg, and starring Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda. The film is about the 1960 U-2 Incident and the arrest and conviction of Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel and the exchange of Abel for U-2 pilot Gary Powers. Rylance plays Abel and has received unanimous universal acclaim for his performance with many critics claiming it as the best performance of 2015. The St. Louis Post-Depatch quoted, "As the deeply principled Donovan, Hanks deftly balances earnestness and humor. And Rylance's spirited performance is almost certain to yield an Oscar nomination." David Edelstein from New York cited 'It's Rylance who keeps Bridge of Spies standing. He gives a teeny, witty, fabulously non-emotive performance, every line musical and slightly ironic - the irony being his forthright refusal to deceive in a world founded on lies." Rylance won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and New York Film Critics Circle Award in the Best Supporting Actor categories, as well as receiving Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, among other wins and nominations.
Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born in Amsterdam, New York, in 1916. His parents, Bryna (Sanglel) and Herschel Danielovitch, were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mahilyow Voblast (now in Belarus). Although growing up in a poor ghetto, Douglas was a fine student and a keen athlete and wrestled competitively during his time at St. Lawrence University. However, he soon identified an acting scholarship as a way out of his meager existence, and was sufficiently talented to gain entry into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He only appeared in a handful of minor Broadway productions before joining the US Navy in 1941, and then after the end of hostilities in 1945, returned to the theater and some radio work. On the insistence of ex-classmate Lauren Bacall movie producer Hal B. Wallis screen-tested Douglas and cast him in the lead role in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. His performance received rave reviews and further work quickly followed, including an appearance in the low-key drama I Walk Alone, the first time he worked alongside fellow future screen legend Burt Lancaster. Such was the strong chemistry between the two that they appeared in seven films together, including the dynamic western Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the John Frankenheimer political thriller Seven Days in May and their final pairing in the gangster comedy Tough Guys. Douglas once said about his good friend: "I've finally gotten away from Burt Lancaster. My luck has changed for the better. I've got nice-looking girls in my films now".
After appearing in "I Walk Alone", Douglas scored his first Oscar nomination playing the untrustworthy and opportunistic boxer Midge Kelly in the gripping Champion. The quality of his work continued to garner the attention of critics and he was again nominated for Oscars for his role as a film producer in The Bad and the Beautiful and as tortured painter Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life, both directed by Vincente Minnelli. In 1955 Douglas launched his own production company, Bryna Productions, the company behind two pivotal film roles in his career. The first was as French army officer Col. Dax in director Stanley Kubrick's brilliant anti-war epic Paths of Glory. Douglas reunited with Kubrick for yet another epic, the magnificent Spartacus. The film also marked a key turning point in the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy "Red Scare" hysteria in the 1950s. At Douglas' insistence Trumbo was given on-screen credit for his contributions, which began the dissolution of the infamous blacklisting policies begun almost a decade previously that had destroyed so many careers and lives.
Douglas remained busy throughout the 1960s, starring in many films,. He played a rebellious modern-day cowboy in Lonely Are the Brave, acted alongside John Wayne in the World War II story In Harm's Way, again with The Duke in a drama about the Israeli fight for independence, Cast a Giant Shadow, and once more with Wayne in the tongue-in-cheek western The War Wagon. Additionally, in 1963 he starred in an onstage production of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", but despite his keen interest, no Hollywood studio could be convinced to bring the story to the screen. However, the rights remained with the Douglas clan, and Kirk's talented son Michael Douglas finally filmed the tale in 1975, starring Jack Nicholson. Into the 1970s Douglas wasn't as busy as previous years; however, he starred in some unusual vehicles, including alongside a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in the loopy western comedy The Villain, then with Farrah Fawcett in the sci-fi thriller Saturn 3 and then he traveled to Australia for the horse opera/drama The Man from Snowy River.
Unknown to many, Kirk has long been involved in humanitarian causes and has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the US State Department since 1963. His efforts were rewarded in 1981 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 1983 with the Jefferson Award. Furthermore, the French honored him with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. More recognition followed for his work with the American Cinema Award (1987), the German Golden Kamera Award (1987), The National Board of Reviews Career Achievement Award (1989), an honorary Academy Award (1995), Recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award (1999) and the UCLA Medal of Honor (2002). Despite a helicopter crash and a stroke suffered in the 1990s, he remains active and continues to appear in front of the camera.
|Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker was born March 25, 1965, in Nelsonville, Ohio, to Barbra Forste (née Keck), a teacher who ran a nursery school, and Stephen Parker, a journalist. Her parents divorced, and her mother later remarried to Paul Forste and had four more children, bringing the total to eight. Sarah now had 3 full siblings and 4 half siblings. Her father was of Eastern European Jewish ancestry, and her mother had German, and some English, roots.
Trained in singing and ballet, Sarah was cast in the Broadway production of "The Innocents", which prompted her family to relocate to New Jersey. Already a professional performer (she studied at the American Ballet School and the Professional Children's School), Sarah was cast in "The Sound of Music" (along with four of her siblings), and landed the lead in the Broadway run of "Annie". After a year as the free-spirited orphan, Sarah attended Dwight Morrow High School, while continuing to add more credits to her acting resume. She landed a role in the made-for-TV movie My Body, My Child, before being cast as one of the lead roles in the 1982 sitcom Square Pegs, as high-schooler Patty Green.
Once a graduate, Sarah decided to pursue a full-time acting career rather than further her education. Since Square Pegs did not last more than a year, Sarah moved on to supporting film roles in movies such as Footloose, Firstborn, and the lead role in the teenage film Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Sarah was having lots of fun, although she had yet to land a star-turning role. After more television appearances in series and made-for-TV movies including A Year in the Life, The Room Upstairs and Dadah Is Death, Sarah finally landed the role of Steve Martin's bubbly lover in the 1991 comedy L.A. Story. More substantial film roles soon followed, starting with a role opposite Nicolas Cage in Honeymoon in Vegas (which foreshadowed her comedic talent), Hocus Pocus and Ed Wood.
A big Woody Allen fan, she starred opposite the renowned filmmaker in the television movie The Sunshine Boys, and that same year, she landed a starring role in Miami Rhapsody. 1996 was a film intensive year with roles in The First Wives Club, If Lucy Fell, and Mars Attacks!. All the while making a name for herself in film, Sarah was gaining respect as a theater actress, with her lead role as a dog (hard to imagine, but true) in the off-Broadway "Sylvia", and her Broadway roles in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (starring her present husband, Matthew Broderick), and the Tony-Award nominated "Once Upon a Mattress".
But Sarah's star has shot up since her portrayal of Manhattan sex-columnist Carrie Bradshaw in the HBO series Sex and the City. Sarah's Golden Globe Best Actress victory in 2000 only underscores the fact that she plays the role of Carrie as though it were literally written for her. Sarah has been happily married to fellow actor Matthew Broderick for quite a while now. Before the marriage, she dated Robert Downey Jr. (who she also lived with), and the late John Kennedy Jr. When not serving as lead actress and producer of Sex and the City, Sarah is a member of Hollywood's Women's Political Committee, and is UNICEF's representative for the Performing Arts.
With features chiseled in stone, and renowned for playing a long list of historical figures, particularly in Biblical epics, the tall, well built and ruggedly handsome Charlton Heston was one of Hollywood's greatest leading men and remained active in front of movie cameras for over sixty years. As a Hollywood star, he appeared in 100 films over the course of 60 years. He played Moses in the epic film, The Ten Commandments (1956), for which he received his first Golden Globe Award nomination. He also starred in Touch of Evil (1958) with Orson Welles; Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor (1959); El Cid (1961); and Planet of the Apes (1968). He also starred in the films The Greatest Show on Earth (1952); Secret of the Incas (1954); The Big Country (1958); and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965). A supporter of Democratic politicians and civil rights in the 1960s, Heston later became a Republican, founding a conservative political action committee and supporting Ronald Reagan. Heston's most famous role in politics came as the five-term president of the National Rifle Association, from 1998 to 2003.
Heston was born John Charles Carter on October 4, 1924, in No Man's Land, Illinois, to Lila (Charlton) and Russell Whitford Carter, who operated a sawmill. He had English and Scottish ancestry, with recent Canadian forebears.
Heston made his feature film debut as the lead character in a 16mm production of Peer Gynt, based on the Henrik Ibsen play. In 1944, Heston enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces. He served for two years as a radio operator and aerial gunner aboard a B-25 Mitchell stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the 77th Bombardment Squadron of the Eleventh Air Force. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. Heston married Northwestern University student Lydia Marie Clarke, who was six months his senior. That same year he joined the military.
Heston played 'Marc Antony' in Julius Caesar, and firmly stamped himself as genuine leading man material with his performance as circus manager 'Brad Braden' in the Cecil B. DeMille spectacular The Greatest Show on Earth, also starring James Stewart and Cornel Wilde. The now very popular actor remained perpetually busy during the 1950s, both on TV and on the silver screen with audience pleasing performances in the steamy thriller The Naked Jungle, as a treasure hunter in Secret of the Incas and another barn storming performance for Cecil B. DeMille as "Moses" in the blockbuster The Ten Commandments.
Heston delivered further dynamic performances in the oily film noir thriller Touch of Evil, and then alongside Gregory Peck in the western The Big Country before scoring the role for which he is arguably best known, that of the wronged Jewish prince who seeks his freedom and revenge in the William Wyler directed Ben-Hur. This mammoth Biblical epic running in excess of three and a half hours became the standard by which other large scale productions would be judged, and it's superb cast also including Stephen Boyd as the villainous "Massala", English actor Jack Hawkins as the Roman officer "Quintus Arrius", and Australian actor Frank Thring as "Pontius Pilate", all contributed wonderful performances. Never one to rest on his laurels, steely Heston remained the preferred choice of directors to lead the cast in major historical productions and during the 1960s he starred as Spanish legend "Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" in El Cid, as a US soldier battling hostile Chinese boxers during 55 Days at Peking, played the ill-fated "John the Baptist" in The Greatest Story Ever Told, the masterful painter "Michelangelo" battling Pope Julius II in The Agony and the Ecstasy, and an English general in Khartoum. In 1968, Heston filmed the unusual western Will Penny about an aging and lonely cowboy befriending a lost woman and her son, which Heston has often referred to as his favorite piece of work on screen. Interestingly, Heston was on the verge of acquiring an entirely new league of fans due to his appearance in four very topical science fiction films (all based on popular novels) painting bleak future's for mankind.
In 1968, Heston starred as time traveling astronaut "George Taylor", in the terrific Planet of the Apes with it's now legendary conclusion as Heston realizes the true horror of his destination. He returned to reprise the role, albeit primarily as a cameo, alongside fellow astronaut James Franciscus in the slightly inferior sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Next up, Heston again found himself facing the apocalypse in The Omega Man as the survivor of a germ plague that has wiped out humanity leaving only bands of psychotic lunatics roaming the cities who seek to kill the uninfected Heston. And fourthly, taking its inspiration from the Harry Harrison novel "Make Room!, Make Room!", Heston starred alongside screen legend Edward G. Robinson and Chuck Connors in Soylent Green. During the remainder of the 1970s, Heston appeared in two very popular "disaster movies" contributing lead roles in the far fetched Airport 1975, plus in the star laden Earthquake, filmed in "Sensoround" (low bass speakers were installed in selected theaters to simulate the earthquake rumblings on screen to movie audiences). He played an evil Cardinal in the lively The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge, a mythical US naval officer in the recreation of Midway, also filmed in "Sensoround", an LA cop trying to stop a sniper in Two-Minute Warning and another US naval officer in the submarine thriller Gray Lady Down. Heston appeared in numerous episodes of the high rating TV series Dynasty and The Colbys, before moving onto a mixed bag of projects including TV adaptations of Treasure Island and A Man for All Seasons, hosting two episodes of the comedy show, Saturday Night Live, starring as the "Good Actor" bringing love struck Mike Myers to tears in Wayne's World 2, and as the eye patch wearing boss of intelligence agent Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies. He also narrated numerous TV specials and lent his vocal talents to the animated movie Hercules, the family comedy Cats & Dogs and an animated version of Ben Hur. Heston made an uncredited appearance in the inferior remake of Planet of the Apes, and his last film appearance to date was in the Holocaust themed drama of Rua Alguem 5555: My Father.
Heston narrated for highly classified military and Department of Energy instructional films, particularly relating to nuclear weapons, and "for six years Heston [held] the nation's highest security clearance" or Q clearance." The Q clearance is similar to a DoD or Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) clearance of Top Secret.
Heston was married to Lydia Marie Clark Heston since March 1944, and they have two children. His highly entertaining autobiography was released in 1995, titled appropriately enough "Into The Arena". Although often criticized for his strong conservative beliefs and involvement with the NRA, Heston was a strong advocate for civil right many years before it became fashionable, and was a recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, plus the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2002, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and did appear in a film or TV production after 2003. He died in April 2008. Truly, Charlton Heston is one of the legendary figures of US cinema.
Krista was born in Ventura, California and grew up in Austin, Texas. Her idols growing up were Lucille Ball and Gilda Radner. She made her way back to Southern California as a young adult and wanted to try out the acting biz. Just weeks after she landed in LA, she booked the coveted role of Billie Reed on NBC's Days of our Lives. After her 3 year stint on the show, she was offered a starring role on Baywatch Hawaii. She starred in Anger Management with Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler, and Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey. She also received high praise for her role in George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. She has had great success in recurring and guest starring roles on some of the most celebrated TV shows of our time like Married with Children, Friends, Monk, CSI, Smalleville, Hawaii Five-0, Rules of Engagement, Just Shoot Me,and Two and Half Men, just to name a few. She recently starred as the title role of the CW comedy Significant Mother in 2015. In addition to being a sought after actress, Krista is also bringing her comedic talents to the stage as a Stand Up Comedian in Los Angeles. Krista is also super mom to her son, Jake and her 10 year old beagle, Jack.
Hedy Lamarr, the woman many critics and fans alike regard as the most beautiful ever to appear in films, was born Hedwig Eva Kiesler in Vienna, Austria. She was the daughter of Gertrud (Lichtwitz), from Budapest, and Emil Kiesler, a banker from Lviv. Her parents were both from Jewish families. Hedwig had a calm childhood, but it was cinema that fascinated her. By the time she was a teenager, she decided to drop out of school and seek fame as an actress, and was a student of theater director Max Reinhardt in Berlin. Her first role was a bit part in the German film Geld auf der Straße (aka "Money on the Street") in 1930. She was attractive and talented enough to be in three more German productions in 1931, but it would be her fifth film that catapulted her to worldwide fame. In 1932 she appeared in a German film called Ecstasy (US title: "Ecstasy") and had made the gutsy move to be nude. It's the story of a young girl who is married to a gentleman much older than she, but she winds up falling in love with a young soldier. The film's nude scenes created a sensation all over the world. The scenes, very tame by today's standards, caused the film to be banned by the US government at the time.
Hedy soon married Fritz Mandl, a munitions manufacturer and a prominent Austrofascist. He attempted to buy up all the prints of "Ecstasy" he could lay his hands on (Italy's dictator, Benito Mussolini, had a copy but refused to sell it to Mandl), but to no avail (there are prints floating around the world today). The notoriety of the film brought Hollywood to her door. She was brought to the attention of MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, who signed her to a contract (a notorious prude when it came to his studio's films, Mayer signed her against his better judgment, but the money he knew her notoriety would bring in to the studio overrode any moral concerns he may have had). However, he insisted she change her name and make good, wholesome films.
Hedy starred in a series of exotic adventure epics. She made her American film debut as Gaby in Algiers. This was followed a year later by Lady of the Tropics. In 1942, she played the plum role of Tondelayo in the classic White Cargo. After World War II, her career began to decline, and MGM decided it would be in the interest of all concerned if her contract were not renewed. Unfortunately for Hedy, she turned down the leads in both The Murder in Thornton Square and Casablanca, both of which would have cemented her standing in the minds of the American public. In 1949, she starred as Delilah opposite Victor Mature's Samson in Cecil B. DeMille's epic Samson and Delilah. This proved to be Paramount Pictures' then most profitable movie to date, bringing in $12 million in rental from theaters. The film's success led to more parts, but it was not enough to ease her financial crunch. She made only six more films between 1949 and 1957, the last being The Female Animal.
Hedy retired to Florida. She died there, in the city of Casselberry, on January 19, 2000.
Brent Spiner, whose primary claim to fame is his portrayal of the beloved android Data on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, was born and raised in Houston, Texas. His parents, Sylvia (Schwartz) and Jack Spiner, owned and operated a furniture store, and were both from Jewish immigrant families (from Austria, Hungary, and Russia). Jack died of kidney failure at age 29, when Brent was 10 months old. When he was 6 years old, his mother married Sol Mintz, who adopted Brent and his older brother Ron. Although his mother divorced Mintz after 7 years of marriage, Brent retained his adopted father's last name until 1975, when he took back his birth name.
Spiner first began pursuing his interest in acting while in high school. There his inspirational drama teacher, Cecil Pickett, gave a great start to the careers of a remarkable group of aspiring young actors (and directors), including Spiner, Cindy Pickett (Cecil's daughter), Randy Quaid, Dennis Quaid, Trey Wilson, Robert Wuhl and Thomas Schlamme, all of whom later attained success in Hollywood. After graduation, Spiner followed his mentor to the University of Houston and other local colleges, while also launching his professional acting career in theater (The Houston Music Theater and other regional theater) and in film (My Sweet Charlie, which was shot on location in Texas). After a couple of false starts in New York and Hollywood, Spiner eventually established himself as a stage actor in New York, appearing in a number of off-Broadway and Broadway plays, such as "A History of the American Film" (1978), "Leave It to Beaver is Dead" (1979), "Sunday in the Park with George" (1984), and "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1985). While in New York, he had a bit part in Woody Allen's Stardust Memories and starred in an independent film called Rent Control. The play "Little Shop of Horrors "brought Spiner to Los Angeles in 1984, where he eventually took up permanent residence.
In 1986, after a number of character parts in television series and movies, such as Robert Kennedy and His Times, Crime of Innocence, Manhunt for Claude Dallas, and Family Sins, Spiner snagged the role that would bring him international fame: Data, the endearing android, whom Spiner played "by tapping into his inner child." Star Trek: The Next Generation, the sequel to the original television series Star Trek, became hugely popular, moving to the big screen for four films (so far) after its 7-year run on television. Aside from these films, Spiner has made cameo appearances in a number of films directed by his friend and old schoolmate Thomas Schlamme, such as Miss Firecracker, Crazy from the Heart, and Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long, and has appeared in small roles in more recent films, such as Dude, Where's My Car? and The Master of Disguise. Arguably his most popular film portrayal was Dr. Brakish Okun in Independence Day, a role that elicited his unique eccentricity and sense of humor. He reprised the character in the sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence.
Neal McDonough was born on February 13, 1966 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to Catherine (Bushe) and Frank McDonough, motel owners who were born in Ireland. He grew up in Barnstable, Massachusetts, graduated from Barnstable High School, and attended Syracuse University. He was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts in 1988. McDonough frequently appeared as Captain Laser, inspiring young students to bring their studies to completion. Fron there, he trained for a short time at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. McDonough has made many television and film appearances since 1991, including Star Trek: First Contact, Minority Report, Timeline, Walking Tall, The Guardian and Flags of Our Fathers. His most recent television appearances include Band of Brothers, Boomtown Desperate Housewives, Medical Investigation, Tin Man and Justified.
Neal's most prized accomplishment is his wife Ruve, whom he married in 2003. They live in Los Angeles, California with their four children.
David (pronounced "Dah-veed") Mazouz, aged 16 as of February 2017, began his acting career in commercials. At eight years old, he landed his first film, Coming & Going, directed by Edoardo Ponti. Shortly thereafter, he was cast in the cable movie Amish Grace. He then landed a role as the co-star of the Fox television series, Touch, as Jake, alongside Kiefer Sutherland who plays his father, Martin. Jake never speaks. He is obsessed with numbers - writing long strings of them in his ever-present notebooks Jake has the ability to perceive the seemingly hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet. It is up to his father, Martin, to help connect with Jake and shape humanity's destiny. David is also the narrator on the show.
Along with his thriving television career, David shows his versatility in the horror thriller Sanitarium. He stars alongside Malcolm McDowell, Lou Diamond Phillips, Lacey Chabert, Chris Mulkey and Robert Englund. In the summer of 2013, David shot Disney's The Games Maker in Argentina with Joseph Fiennes and Edward Asner. David also stars in Incarnate alongside Aaron Eckhart as a boy possessed by a demon.
In 2014, David was cast in the role of the young Bruce Wayne in the Warner Bros. production for Fox Gotham. David's other television credits include a kid in detention in Mike & Molly, James Spader's son on The Office, a troubled youth on Private Practice, a dying boy on Criminal Minds, Steve on Major Crimes and Ryan Hatcher on Drop Dead Diva. His latest film is The Darkness with Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell and Lucy Fry about a family battling their own personal demons as well as a supernatural one he brings back from a holiday.
David was born in Los Angeles, California, to Rachel, a psychotherapist, and Michel Mazouz, a physician. He has an older sister who is in College now but has been acting in theatrical productions and improv for several years. He is from a Sephardi Jewish family; his father is from Tunisia, and his mother was born in the U.S., to parents from Greece. David has studied musical and sketch improvisation at Second City, as well as The Improv, where he wrote his own material. While David has already accomplished so much and reached important milestones in his career, his dream is to work with his idols, including Steven Spielberg, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, J.J. Abrams, Tim Burton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr. and David O. Russell. He enjoys spending time with his friends from school, his dogs, and his sister. He is fascinated by maps and geography, and loves movies, learning guitar, writing lyrics, singing, dancing and acting. David regularly takes guitar lessons. In fact, he got a guitar from Touch costar Kiefer Sutherland as an 11th-birthday present.
British actress Sasha Jackson is primarily based in Los Angeles and travels worldwide for work commitments. Sasha has an EB1 Green Card in recognition of her talent and body of work. Sasha has trained with some of LA's most respected and renowned acting coaches, amongst them: Ivana Chubbuck (as a Masterclass member), Andrew Magarian, Taylor Sheridan and Warner Loughlin and has had intensive one-to-one dialect coaching with the master of voices, Bob Corff, which has given her an American accent that is widely regarded amongst the casting community as "flawless". She has also perfected numerous other accents and is a skilled mimic, which further increases her suitability to fill a wide range of characters of various nationalities. Through her professional training in weapons and martial arts as the lead female in both "Jarhead3: Under Siege", "Perfect Weapon" and "Snapshot", Sasha is fast gaining a strong reputation as an action heroine whilst being equally comfortable using her comedic timing in roles for "Fuller House" and "The Royals". Sasha, who has proven herself to be a versatile and talented actor in a wide variety of roles and genres, relishes learning new physical skills for projects and, indeed, embraces the challenges that such roles bring, including surfing the huge winter waves in South Africa for Blue Crush 2 and learning multiple dance disciplines and styles for the lead in a dance movie. Sasha, who competitively represented the South of England in High Board Diving and who is also a former District Trampolining champion, has already had a diverse career encompassing projects which saw her take the lead in several successful independent feature films, UK television series as an actress, presenter and herself as well as commercials, modelling assignments, as a Government-backed singer and also as the "face" and Worldwide Ambassador of two companies in the UK and Dubai.
James Maitland Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent.
Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he was a keen athlete (football and track), musician (singing and accordion playing), and sometime actor. In 1929 he won a place at Princeton, where he studied architecture with some success and became further involved with the performing arts as a musician and actor with the University Players.
After graduation, engagements with the University Players took him around the northeastern United States, including a run on Broadway in 1932. But work dried up as the Great Depression deepened, and it wasn't until 1934, when he followed his friend Henry Fonda to Hollywood, that things began to pick up.
After his first screen appearance in Art Trouble, he worked for a time for MGM as a contract player and slowly began making a name for himself in increasingly high-profile roles throughout the rest of the 1930s. His famous collaborations with Frank Capra, in You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and, after World War II, It's a Wonderful Life helped to launch his career as a star and to establish his screen persona as the likable everyman.
Having learned to fly in 1935, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940 as a private (after twice failing the medical for being underweight). During the course of World War II he rose to the rank of colonel, first as an instructor at home in the United States, and later on combat missions in Europe. He remained involved with the U.S. Air Force Reserve after the war and retired in 1959 as a brigadier general.
Stewart's acting career took off properly after the war. During the course of his long professional life he had roles in some of Hollywood's best remembered films, starring in a string of Westerns (bringing his "everyman" qualities to movies like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), biopics (The Stratton Story, The Glenn Miller Story, and The Spirit of St. Louis, for instance) thrillers (most notably his frequent collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock) and even some screwball comedies .
He continued to work into the 1990s and died at the age of 89 in 1997.
Eion is known for his performances in the Emmy and Golden Globe winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, character roles in "Fight Club" , "Almost Famous", "Center Stage" and leading man opposite Antonio Banderas in HBOs "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself". Eion was nominated for a Golden Satellite award and hailed by critics for a "beautifully understated performance that brings a striking balance to the piece". The movie's legendary writer-producer Larry Gelbart of M.A.S.H. fame was quoted in Variety as saying " I see Eion as a reincarnation of Henry Fonda. He's physically attractive and exudes an effortless sincerity, he has the whole actors ball of wax".
In September 2003, Variety Magazine honored Bailey as one of the top ten emerging actors to watch. He has appeared in Showtime's original movie, "Sexual Life", where he was voted the prestigious 'breakthrough performance of the year award' by audience members of The Phoenix International Film Festival after only twenty minutes of screen time.
Eion joined the cast of ER for half a season, and was recognized by People Magazine as one of the Fifty Most Eligible Bachelors of 2005 and US magazine named Eion and his cast mate Maura Tierney as one of the sexiest couples on television. Eion has since starred opposite Ellen Pompeo in the television movie "Life of the Party", for which he was awarded his first Emmy for 'Outstanding Performance in a 'Youth or Family Special'.
On stage, Eion has appeared in numerous plays, most notably as Alan Strang in the psychological masterpiece "Equus" at the Pasadena Playhouse. In this daring role that requires an on stage mental breakdown and prolonged full nudity, critics once again found Eion's performance to be remarkable. Variety called him "excellent as Strang" Hollywood Reporter "expert" and Drama Logue noted that "his performance moves to a profoundly moving crescendo by plays end".
More recently his turn as as Steve Knight on Showtimes "Ray Donovan" attracted attention along with an international fan following for his multi-year recurring role on ABC's "Once Upon A Time". In 2017 Eion is shooting "The Last Tycoon" for Amazon and his starring turn in the nautical-drama "Extortion" with Academy award nominee Barkhad Abdi and Danny Glover will be released by Lionsgate May 16th.
Eugene Levy is an award-winning actor, writer, and producer. He has appeared in more than 60 motion pictures to date, eight of which having topped the $100M mark. The box office success of films such as Bringing Down The House, Cheaper By the Dozen 2, and Father Of The Bride Part II have established him as one of Hollywood's most popular comedic actors. But it was the role of Noah Levenstein in the American Pie franchise that cemented his reputation as America's favorite Dad. Levy's most recent big-screen role was that of Dory's Dad in the Disney/Pixar smash Finding Dory, in which he stars alongside Ellen DeGeneres and Diane Keaton. The film has surpassed the $1B mark worldwide, and is on track to become one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time.
Partnering with Christopher Guest, Levy earned critical acclaim for co-writing and co-starring in Best In Show, Waiting For Guffman, For Your Consideration, and A Mighty Wind. Levy has been nominated for and won countless awards for his films including a New York Film Critics Circle Award and a Grammy Award® for A Mighty Wind and a Golden Globe® nomination for Best In Show. Other films include Splash, Armed and Dangerous, Multiplicity, Club Paradise, and Serendipity.
In 2013, Levy formed Not A Real Company Productions (with his son Daniel Levy and principals Andrew Barnsley and Fred Levy) to produce Schitt's Creek, a television series for CBC/ITV he co-created, co-executive produces, and co-stars in with Daniel Levy. The single-cam, character-driven comedy also stars Catherine O'Hara, Annie Murphy, and Chris Elliott.
In 2016, Levy won Lead Actor in a Comedy at the Canadian Screen Awards and, as Executive Producer, the CSA for Best Comedy, an award he shared with Daniel Levy, among others. Schitt's Creek swept the Canadian Screen Awards, winning nine of a possible 10 categories. Levy also received the prestigious Legacy Award (along with co-star and long-time collaborator, Catherine O'Hara) from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Levy won two Emmys® for his writing on SCTV in addition to many other awards and nominations for his television work.
Levy is a Member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of The Governor General's Performing Arts Award - the foremost honour presented for excellence in the performing arts.
|Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola (née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated with a degree in drama from Hofstra University, and did graduate work at UCLA in filmmaking. He was training as assistant with filmmaker Roger Corman, working in such capacities as sound-man, dialogue director, associate producer and, eventually, director of Dementia 13, Coppola's first feature film. During the next four years, Coppola was involved in a variety of script collaborations, including writing an adaptation of "This Property is Condemned" by Tennessee Williams (with Fred Coe and Edith Sommer), and screenplays for Is Paris Burning? and Patton, the film for which Coppola won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. In 1966, Coppola's 2nd film brought him critical acclaim and a Master of Fine Arts degree. In 1969, Coppola and George Lucas established American Zoetrope, an independent film production company based in San Francisco. The company's first project was THX 1138, produced by Coppola and directed by Lucas. Coppola also produced the second film that Lucas directed, American Graffiti, in 1973. This movie got five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. In 1971, Coppola's film The Godfather became one of the highest-grossing movies in history and brought him an Oscar for writing the screenplay with Mario Puzo The film was a Best Picture Academy Award-winner, and also brought Coppola a Best Director Oscar nomination. Following his work on the screenplay for The Great Gatsby, Coppola's next film was The Conversation, which was honored with the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and brought Coppola Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations. Also released that year, The Godfather: Part II, rivaled the success of The Godfather, and won six Academy Awards, bringing Coppola Oscars as a producer, director and writer. Coppola then began work on his most ambitious film, Apocalypse Now, a Vietnam War epic that was inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Released in 1979, the acclaimed film won a Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and two Academy Awards. Also that year, Coppola executive produced the hit The Black Stallion. With George Lucas, Coppola executive produced Kagemusha, directed by Akira Kurosawa, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, directed by Paul Schrader and based on the life and writings of Yukio Mishima. Coppola also executive produced such films as The Escape Artist, Hammett The Black Stallion Returns, Barfly, Wind, The Secret Garden, etc.
He helped to make a star of his nephew, Nicolas Cage. Personal tragedy hit in 1986 when his son Gio died in a boating accident. Francis Ford Coppola is one of America's most erratic, energetic and controversial filmmakers.
Julie Christie, the British movie legend whom Al Pacino called "the most poetic of all actresses", was born in Chukua, Assam, India, on April 14, 1941, the daughter of a tea planter, Frank St. John Christie, and his wife, Rosemary (Ramsden), who was a painter. Her family was of English, and some Scottish, origin. The young Christie grew up on her father's tea plantation before being sent to England for her education. Finishing her studies in Paris, where she had moved to improve her French with an eye to possibly becoming a linguist (she is fluent in French and Italian), the teenager became enamored of the freedom of the Continent. She also was smitten by the bohemian life of artists and planned on becoming an artist before she enrolled in London's Central School of Speech Training. She made her debut as a professional in 1957 as a member of the Frinton Repertory of Essex.
Christie was not fond of the stage, even though it allowed her to travel, including a professional gig in the United States. Her true métier as an actress was film, and she made her screen debut in the science-fiction television serial A for Andromeda in 1961. Her first film role was as the unlikely fiancé of Leslie Phillips in the Ealing-like comedy Crooks Anonymous, which was followed up by an ingénue role in another comedy, The Fast Lady. The producers of the "James Bond" series were sufficiently intrigued by the young actress to consider her for the role that subsequently went to Ursula Andress in Dr. No, but dropped the idea because she was not busty enough.
Christie first worked with the man who would kick her career into high gear, director John Schlesinger, when he choose her as a replacement for the actress originally cast in Billy Liar. Christie's turn in the film as the free-wheeling "Liz" was a stunner, and she had her first taste of becoming a symbol if not icon of the new British cinema. Her screen presence was such that the great John Ford cast her as the Irish prostitute, Daisy Battles, in Young Cassidy. Charlton Heston wanted her for his film The War Lord, but the studio refused her salary demands.
Although Amercan magazines portrayed Christie as a "newcomer" when she made her breakthrough to super-stardom in Schlesinger's seminal Swinging Sixties film Darling, she actually had considerable work under her professional belt and was in the process of a artistic quickening. Schlesinger called on Christie, whom he adored, to play the role of mode "Diana Scott" when the casting of Shirley MacLaine fell through. (MacLaine was the sister of the man who would become Christie's long-time paramour in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Warren Beatty, whom some, like actor Rod Steiger, believe she gave up her career for. Her Doctor Zhivago co-star, Steiger -- a keen student of acting -- regretted that Christie did not give more of herself to her craft).
As played by Christie, Diana is an amoral social butterfly who undergoes a metamorphosis from immature sex kitten to jaded socialite. For her complex performance, Christie won raves, including the Best Actress Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the British Film Academy. She had arrived, especially as she had followed up Darling with the role of "Lara" in two-time Academy Award-winning director David Lean's adaptation of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, one of the all-time box-office champs.
Christie was now a superstar who commanded a price of $400,000 per picture, a fact ruefully noted in Charlton Heston's diary (his studio had balked at paying her then-fee of $35,000). More interested in film as an art form than in consolidating her movie stardom, Christie followed up Doctor Zhivago with a dual role in Fahrenheit 451 for director François Truffaut, a director she admired. The film was hurt by the director's lack of English and by friction between Truffaut and Christie's male co-star Oskar Werner, who had replaced the more-appropriate-for-the-role Terence Stamp. Stamp and Christie had been lovers before she had become famous, and he was unsure he could act with her, due to his own ego problems. On his part, Werner resented the attention the smitten Truffaut gave Christie.
Stamp overcame those ego problems to sign on as her co-star in John Schlesinger's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, which also featured two great English actors, Peter Finch and Alan Bates. It is a film that is far better remembered now than when it was received in 1967. The film and her performance as the Hardy heroine "Bathsheba Everdene" was lambasted by film critics, many of whom faulted Christie for being too "mod" and thus untrue to one of Hardy's classic tales of fate. Some said that her contemporary, Vanessa Redgrave, would have been a better choice as "Bathsheba", but while it is true that Redgrave is a very fine actress, she lacked the sex appeal and star quality of Christie, which makes the story of three men in love with one woman more plausible, as a film.
Although no one then knew it, the period 1967-68 represented the high-water mark of Christie's career. Fatefully, like the Hardy heroine she had portrayed, she had met the man who transformed her life, undermining her pretensions to a career as a movie star in their seven-year-long love affair, the American actor Warren Beatty. Living his life was always far more important than being a star for Beatty, who viewed the movie star profession as a "treadmill leading to more treadmills" and who was wealthy enough after Bonnie and Clyde to not have to ever work again. Christie and Beatty had visited a working farm during the production of Far from the Madding Crowd and had been appalled by the industrial exploitation of the animals. Thereafter, animal rights became a very important subject to Christie. They were kindred souls who remain friends four decades after their affair ended in 1974.
Christie's last box-office hit in which she was the top-liner was Petulia for Richard Lester, a film that featured one of co-star George C. Scott's greatest performances, perfectly counter-balanced by Christie's portrayal of an "arch-kook" who was emblematic of the '60s. It is one of the major films of the decade, an underrated masterpiece. Despite the presence of the great George C. Scott and the excellent Shirley Knight, the film would not work without Julie Christie. There is frankly no other actress who could have filled the role, bringing that unique presence and the threat of danger that crackled around Christie's electric aura. At this point of her career, she was poised for greatness as a star, greatness as an actress.
And she walked away.
After meeting Beatty, Julie Christie essentially surrendered any aspirations to screen stardom, or at maintaining herself as a top-drawer working actress (success at the box office being a guarantee of the best parts, even in art films). She turned down They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Anne of the Thousand Days, two parts that garnered Oscar nominations for the second choices, Jane Fonda and Geneviève Bujold. After shooting In Search of Gregory, a critical and box office flop, to fulfill her contractual obligations, she spent her time with Beatty in California, renting a beach house at Malibu. She did return to form in Joseph Losey's The Go-Between, a fine picture with a script by the great Harold Pinter, and she won another Oscar nomination as the whore-house proprietor in Robert Altman's minor classic McCabe & Mrs. Miller that she made with her lover Beatty. However, like Beatty, himself, she did not seek steady work, which can be professional suicide for an actor who wants to maintain a standing in the first rank of movie stars.
At the same time, Julie Christie turned down the role of the Russian Empress in Nicholas and Alexandra, another film that won the second-choice (Janet Suzman) a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Two years later, she appeared in his landmark mystery-horror film Don't Look Now, but that likely was as a favor to the director, Nicolas Roeg, who had been her cinematographer on Fahrenheit 451, Far from the Madding Crowd and Petulia. In the mid-70s, her affair with Beatty came to an end, but the two remained close friends and worked together in Shampoo (which she regretted due to its depiction of women) and Heaven Can Wait.
Christie was still enough of a star, due to sheer magnetism rather than her own pull at the box-office, to be offered $1 million to play the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis character in The Greek Tycoon (a part eventually played by Jacqueline Bisset to no great acclaim). She signed for but was forced to drop out of the lead in Agatha (which was filled by Vanessa Redgrave) after she broke a wrist roller-skating (a particularly southern Californian fate!). She then signed for the female lead in American Gigolo when Richard Gere was originally attached to the picture, but dropped out when John Travolta muscled his way into the lead after making twin box-office killings as disco king "Tony Manero" in Saturday Night Fever and greaser "Danny Zuko" in Grease. Christie could never have co-starred with such a camp figure of dubious talent. When Travolta himself dropped out and Gere was subbed back in, it was too late for Christe to reconsider, as the part already had been filled by model-actress Lauren Hutton.
Finally, the end of the American phase of her movie career was realized when Christie turned down the part of "Louise Bryant" in Reds, a part written by Warren Beatty with her in mind, as she felt an American should play the role. (Beatty's latest lover, Diane Keaton, played the part and won a Best Actress Oscar nomination). Still, she remained a part of the film, Beatty's long-gestated labor of love, as it is dedicated to "Jules".
Julie Christie moved back to the UK and become the UK's answer to Jane Fonda, campaigning for various social and political causes, including animal rights and nuclear disarmament. The parts she did take were primarily driven by her social consciousness, such as appearing in Sally Potter's first feature-length film, The Gold Diggers which was not a remake of the old Avery Hopwood's old warhorse but a feminist parable made entirely by women who all shared the same pay scale. Roles in The Return of the Soldier with Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson and Merchant-Ivory's Heat and Dust seemed to herald a return to form, but Christie -- as befits such a symbol of the freedom and lack of conformity of the '60s -- decided to do it her way. She did not go "careering", even though her unique talent and beauty was still very much in demand by filmmakers.
At this point, Christie's movie career went into eclipse. Once again, she was particularly choosy about her work, so much so that many came to see her, essentially, as retired. A career renaissance came in the mid-1990s with her turn as "Gertrude" in Kenneth Branagh's ambitious if not wholly successful Hamlet. As Christie said at the time, she didn't feel she could turn Branagh down as he was a national treasure. But the best was yet to come: her turn as the faded movie star married to handyman Nick Nolte and romanced by a younger man in Afterglow, which brought her rave notices. She received her third Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, and showed up at the awards as radiant and uniquely beautiful as ever. Ever the iconoclast, she was visibly relieved, upon the announcement of the award, to learn that she had lost!
Christie lived with left-wing investigative journalist Duncan Campbell (a Manchester Guardian columnist) since 1979, first in Wales, then in Ojai, California, and now in London's East End, before marrying in 2008. In addition to her film work, she has narrated many books-on-tape. In 1995, she made a triumphant return to the stage in a London revival of Harold Pinter's "Old Times", which garnered her superb reviews. In the decade since Afterglow, she has worked steadily on film in supporting roles.
Christie -- an actress who eschewed vulgar stardom -- proved to be an inspiration to her co-star Sarah Polley who was in No Such Thing and The Secret Life of Words. Polley says that Christie is uniquely aware of her commodification by the movie industry and the mass media during the 1960s. Not wanting to be reduced to a product, she had rebelled and had assumed control of her life and career. Her attitude makes her one of Polley's heroes, who calls her one of her surrogate mothers. (Polley lost her own mother when she was 11 years old).
Polley wrote the screenplay for her adaptation of Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" with only one actress in mind: Julie Christie. Polley had first read the short story on a flight back from Iceland, where she had made No Such Thing with Christie and, as she read, it was Julie whom she pictured as "Fiona", the wife of a one-time philandering husband, who has become afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and seeks to save her hubby the pain of looking after her by checking herself into a home. After finishing the screenplay, it took months to get Christie to commit to making the film. Polley then found out why Christie is so reticent about making movies: "She gives all of herself to what she does. Once she said yes, she was more committed than anybody".
According to David Germain, a cinema journalist who interviewed Christie for the Associated Press, "Polley and Christie share a desire to do interesting, unusual work, which generally means staying away from Hollywood. The collaboration between the two rebels yielded a small gem of a film. Lions Gate Films was so impressed, it purchased the American distribution rights to the film in 2006, then withheld it until the following year to build up momentum for the awards season. Julie Christie's performance in Away from Her is superb, and already has garnered her the National Board of Review's Best Actress Award.
An accomplished actor in film, television and theater, Scott Patterson is well known to television audience from his seven seasons as diner owner Luke Danes in the hit series "Gilmore Girls."
Patterson now brings his many talents to the network's new comedy "Aliens In America," playing Gary Tolchuk, the aspiring entrepreneur dad of a Wisconsin family whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a Pakistani Muslim exchange student.
Patterson, born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, attended Rutgers University and pursued a degree in comparative literature. He studied acting in New York with renowned coaches Robert Lewis and Sondra Lee and observed Paul Newman, Arthur Penn and Frank Corsaro at The Actors Studio, where he appeared in numerous productions. The theater company he founded in 1988 in New York City, Arc Light, produced the works of John Bishop, Sam Shepherd, Harold Pinter and Shakespeare.
Patterson recently completed filming on the upcoming horror feature "Saw IV." He appeared on the big screen in "Her Best Move," "Little Big League," "Three Wishes," "Highway 395" and "Rhapsody in Bloom."
On television, in addition to his memorable role as Luke on "Gilmore Girls," Patterson appeared on "Seinfeld," "Will & Grace," "It's Like, You Know" and "Fired Up." He has also guest starred on "Arli$$" and "Get Real," and voiced the character of Lieutenant Farraday in the 2004 animated series "Justice League Unlimited," from Warner Bros. Animation.
Patterson writes music and paints in his spare time. His gallery show of completed works will be announced in early 2008.
Patterson also collects art, artifacts and rare writings. His prehistoric petrified baby frog collection is on loan to the Louvre in Paris through 2010.
Patterson currently resides in Los Angeles.
Samantha Isler, originally from Oklahoma, has already made a name for herself in both the television and feature film world.
Samantha made her Feature Film debut in Home Run, directed by David Boyd. The following year, she booked the lead role in P.J. Fishwick and Hunter Adam's film "Dig Two Graves". In this thriller/mystery, Isler plays 14 year old Jake, opposite Ted Levine, and she wrestles with a hard decision offered by three mysterious characters, a chance to bring her dead brother back to life in exchange for another person's life.
Samantha made her television debut as she starred in the NBC comedy Sean Saves the World as Sean Hayes's daughter Ellie. The show centered on Sean, who must figure out how to parent his 14-year-old daughter, who just moved in, while navigating a temperamental new boss at work (Thomas Lennon) and his bossy mother at home (Linda Lavin).
2015-2016 has been a busy time for Samantha. Samantha has appeared both on the small and big screens. She was seen on The CW's critically acclaimed hit series "Supernatural" in the role of teenage sister of God, Amara. Followed by a guest starring appearance on the Shonda Rhimes television hit series Grey's Anatomy, as Maya.
Samantha stars opposite Viggo Mortensen, in Matt Ross's critically acclaimed 2016 hit film Captain Fantastic. Samantha plays Mortensen's daughter Kielyr, as Mortensen is devoted to teaching his six children how to live and survive in the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest then begins a journey which challenges his ideas of freedom and what it means to raise a family.
If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time her parents take her to England. Her mother thinks she should have a proper English upbringing and insists on leaving her in a convent school - even though Vivien is two years younger than any of the other girls at the school. The only comfort for the lonely child is a cat that was in the courtyard of the school that the nuns let her take up to her dormitory. Her first and best friend at the school is an eight-year-old girl, Maureen O'Sullivan who has been transplanted from Ireland. In the bleakness of a convent school, the two girls can recreate in their imaginations the places they have left and places where they would some day like to travel. After Vivien has been at the school for 18 months, her mother comes again from India and takes her to a play in London. In the next six months Vivien will insist on seeing the same play 16 times. In India the British community entertained themselves at amateur theatricals and Vivien's father was a leading man. Pupils at the English convent school are eager to perform in school plays. It's an all-girls school, so some of the girls have to play the male roles. The male roles are so much more adventurous. Vivien's favorite actor is Leslie Howard, and at 19 she marries an English barrister who looks very much like him. The year is 1932. Vivien's best friend from that convent school has gone to California, where she's making movies. Vivien has an opportunity to play a small role in an English film, Things Are Looking Up. She has only one line but the camera keeps returning to her face. The London stage is more exciting than the movies being filmed in England, and the most thrilling actor on that stage is Laurence Olivier. At a party Vivien finds out about a stage role, "The Green Sash", where the only requirement is that the leading lady be beautiful. The play has a very brief run, but now she is a real actress. An English film is going to be made about Elizabeth I. Laurence gets the role of a young favorite of the queen who is sent to Spain. Vivien gets a much smaller role as a lady-in-waiting of the queen who is in love with Laurence's character. In real life, both fall in love while making this film, Fire Over England. In 1938, Hollywood wants Laurence to play Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Vivien, who has just recently read Gone with the Wind, thinks that the role of Scarlett O'Hara is the first role for an actress that would be really exciting to bring to the screen. She sails to America for a brief vacation. In New York she gets on a plane for the first time to rush to California to see Laurence. They have dinner with Myron Selznick the night that his brother, David O. Selznick, is burning Atlanta on a backlot of MGM (actually they are burning old sets that go back to the early days of silent films to make room to recreate an Atlanta of the 1860s). Vivien is 26 when Gone with the Wind makes a sweep of the Oscars in 1939. So let's show 26-year-old Vivien walking up to the stage to accept her Oscar and then as the Oscar is presented the camera focuses on Vivien's face and through the magic of digitally altering images, the 26-year-old face merges into the face of Vivien at age 38 getting her second Best Actress Oscar for portraying Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. She wouldn't have returned to America to make that film had not Laurence been going over there to do a film, Carrie based on Theodore Dreiser's novel "Sister Carrie". Laurence tells their friends that his motive for going to Hollywood to make films is to get enough money to produce his own plays for the London stage. He even has his own theater there, the St. James. Now Sir Laurence, with a seat in the British House of Lords, is accompanied by Vivien the day the Lords are debating about whether the St James should be torn down. Breaking protocol, Vivien speaks up and is escorted from the House of Lords. The publicity helps raise the funds to save the St. James. Throughout their two-decade marriage Laurence and Vivien were acting together on the stage in London and New York. Vivien was no longer Lady Olivier when she performed her last major film role, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.
Robert Mitchum was an underrated American leading man of enormous ability, who sublimated his talents beneath an air of disinterest. He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Ann Harriet (Gunderson), a Norwegian immigrant, and James Thomas Mitchum, a shipyard/railroad worker. His father died in a train accident when he was two, and Robert and his siblings (including brother John Mitchum, later also an actor) were raised by his mother and stepfather (a British army major) in Connecticut, New York, and Delaware. An early contempt for authority led to discipline problems, and Mitchum spent good portions of his teen years adventuring on the open road. On one of these trips, at the age of 14, he was charged with vagrancy and sentenced to a Georgia chain gang, from which he escaped. Working a wide variety of jobs (including ghostwriter for astrologist Carroll Righter), Mitchum discovered acting in a Long Beach, California, amateur theater company. He worked at Lockheed Aircraft, where job stress caused him to suffer temporary blindness. About this time he began to obtain small roles in films, appearing in dozens within a very brief time. In 1945, he was cast as Lt. Walker in Story of G.I. Joe and received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor. His star ascended rapidly, and he became an icon of 1940s film noir, though equally adept at westerns and romantic dramas. His apparently lazy style and seen-it-all demeanor proved highly attractive to men and women, and by the 1950s, he was a true superstar despite a brief prison term for marijuana usage in 1949, which seemed to enhance rather than diminish his "bad boy" appeal. Though seemingly dismissive of "art," he worked in tremendously artistically thoughtful projects such as Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter and even co-wrote and composed an oratorio produced at the Hollywood Bowl by Orson Welles. A master of accents and seemingly unconcerned about his star image, he played in both forgettable and unforgettable films with unswerving nonchalance, leading many to overlook the prodigious talent he can bring to a project that he finds compelling. He moved into television in the 1980s as his film opportunities diminished, winning new fans with The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. His sons James Mitchum and Christopher Mitchum are actors, as is his grandson Bentley Mitchum. His last film was James Dean: Live Fast, Die Young with Casper Van Dien as James Dean.
Desiree Ross was born May,1999 and raised in South Carolina. She is the eldest of two children, and the daughter of a teacher and Realtor.
Her first paid project was playing a lead role for a series of health videos for SC-ETV called "Healthy Hanna". The following year Ross played Michaela, a biracial child caught in a hate crime in "Crossing the River," a short film that won best cast in the New York Downtown Film Festival and was an official selection for twelve film festivals including Manlleu Film Festival in Spain. Ross' next opportunity came when she was cast in another award winning short film titled "Old Souls," a historical piece dealing with racism and changing times. Her natural talent for bringing raw, realistic and honest emotions to her roles then took her to a larger stage.
Ross' first Hollywood break had her starring in Lifetime's "A Country Christmas Story" opposite Dolly Parton. Afterwards she landed a role as a recurring actor in Spielberg/TNT's season four of "Falling Skies," working alongside Will Patton and Noah Wyle. ABC Studios then hired her to play Dawn in a comedy sitcom pilot with Chevy Chase and Beverly DeAngelo. Finally, she was tapped as a lead in Lionsgate/OWN's Greenleaf playing the series regular role Sophia with Oprah Winfrey and Emmy winners Lynn Whitfield and Keith David.
Ross' two passions include helping others and acting. She works in food pantries, works the children's room at church, has done a mission trip to Nicaragua, and has fostered dogs. Ross' next goal is to help bring fresh water wells to Togo, Africa.
Anjelica Huston was born on July 8, 1951 in Santa Monica, California, to prima ballerina Enrica "Ricki" (Soma) and director and actor John Huston. Her mother, who was from New York, was of Italian descent, and her father had English, Scottish, and Scots-Irish ancestry. Huston spent most of her childhood overseas, in Ireland and England, and in 1969 first dipped her toe into the acting profession, taking a few small roles in her father's movies. However, in that year her mother died in a car accident, at 39, and Huston relocated to the United States, where the tall, exotically beautiful young woman modeled for several years.
While modeling, Huston had a few more small film roles, but decided to focus more on movies in the early 1980s. She prepared herself by reaching out to acting coach Peggy Feury and began to get roles. The first notable part was in Bob Rafelson's remake of the classic noir movie The Postman Always Rings Twice (in which Jack Nicholson, with whom Huston was living at the time, was the star). After a few more years of on-again, off-again supporting work, her father perfectly cast her as calculating, imperious Maerose, the daughter of a Mafia don whose love is scorned by a hit man (Nicholson again) in his film adaptation of Richard Condon's Mafia-satire novel Prizzi's Honor. Huston won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, making her the first person in Academy Award history to win an Oscar when a parent and a grandparent (her father and grandfather Walter Huston) had also won one.
Huston thereafter worked prolifically, including notable roles in Francis Ford Coppola's -Gardens of Stone, Barry Sonnenfeld's film versions of the Charles Addams cartoons The Addams Family and Addams Family Values, in which she portrayed Addams matriarch Morticia, Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Probably her finest performance on-screen, however, was as Lilly, the veteran, iron-willed con artist in Stephen Frears' The Grifters, for which she received another Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actress. A sentimental favorite is her performance as the lead in her father's final film, an adaptation of James Joyce's The Dead -- with her many years of residence in Ireland, Huston's Irish accent in the film is authentic.
Endowed with her father's great height and personal boldness, and her mother's beauty and aristocratic nose, Huston certainly cuts an imposing figure, and brings great confidence and authority to her performances. She clearly takes her craft seriously and has come into her own as a strong actress, emerging from under the shadow of her father, who passed away in 1987. Huston married the sculptor Robert Graham in 1992, The couple lived in the Los Angeles area before Graham's death in 2008.
Matthew William Lawrence was born in Abington, Pennsylvania, to Donna (Shaw), a personnel manager, and Joseph Lawrence, an insurance broker. He is the middle brother of three, with Andrew Lawrence the youngest and Joey Lawrence the oldest. At age three, his mother started to bring him into NY city with her and his brother Joseph. They would go often for singing and dancing lessons as well as commercial auditions. Matty, known to family/friends, naturally wanted to get into the entertainment industry like his older brother and developed a passion for the arts. At age 4 he booked 2 national commercials and was on his way. Finally after many years of commuting, he and his family moved out to Los Angeles. This is where he attended high school and then USC. He excelled in biology and the sciences. All the while working as an actor. He now resides in a suburb of Los Angeles.
Robert Anthony Rodriguez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to Rebecca (Villegas), a nurse, and Cecilio G. Rodríguez, a salesman. His family is of Mexican descent.
Of all the people to be amazed by the images of John Carpenter's 1981 sci-fi parable, Escape from New York, none were as captivated as the 12-year-old Rodriguez, who sat with his friends in a crowded cinema. Many people watch films and arrogantly proclaim "I can do that." This young man said something different: "I WILL do that. I'm gonna make movies." The young man in question is Robert Rodriguez and this day was the catalyst of his dream career. Born and raised in Texas, Robert was the middle child of a family that would include 10 children. While many-a-child would easily succumb to a Jan Brady-sense of being lost in the shuffle, Robert always stood out as a very creative and very active young man. An artist by nature, he was very rarely seen sans pencil-in-hand doodling some abstract (yet astounding) dramatic feature on a piece of paper. His mother, not a fan of the "dreary" cinema of the 1970s, instills a sense of cinema in her children by taking them on weekly trips to San Antonio's famed Olmos Theatre movie house and treats them to a healthy dose of Hollywood's "Golden Age" wonders, from Sergio Leone to the silent classic of Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
In a short amount of time, young Robert finds the family's old Super-8 film camera and makes his first films. The genres are unlimited: action, sci-fi, horror, drama, stop-motion animation. He uses props from around the house, settings from around town, and makes use of the largest cast and crew at his disposal: his family. At the end of the decade, his father, a salesman, brings home the latest home-made technological wonder: a VCR, and with it (as a gift from the manufacturer) a video camera. With this new equipment at his disposal, he makes movies his entire life. He screens the movies for friends, all of whom desperately want to star in the next one. He gains a reputation in the neighbourhood as "the kid who makes movies". Rather than handing in term papers, he is allowed to hand in "term movies" because, as he himself explains, "[the teachers] knew I'd put more effort into a movie than I ever would into an essay." He starts his own comic strip, "Los Hooligans". His movies win every local film competition and festival. When low academic grades threaten to keep him out of UT Austin's renowned film department, he proves his worth the only way he knows how: he makes a movie. Three, in fact: trilogy of short movies called "Austin Stories" starring his siblings. It beats the entries of the school's top students and allows Robert to enter the programme. After being accepted into the film department, Robert takes $400 of his own money to make his "biggest" film yet: a 16mm short comedy/fantasy called Bedhead.
Pouring every idea and camera trick he knew into the short, it went on to win multiple awards. After meeting and marrying fellow Austin resident Elizabeth Avellan, Robert comes up with a crazy idea: he will sell his body to science in order to finance his first feature-length picture (a Mexican action adventure about a guitarist with no name looking for work but getting caught up in a shoot-'em-up adventure) that he will sell to the Spanish video market and use as an entry point to a lucrative Hollywood career. With his "guinea pig" money he raises a mere $7,000 and creates El Mariachi. But rather than lingering in obscurity, the film finds its way to the Sundance film festival where it becomes an instant favourite, wins Robert a distribution deal with Columbia pictures and turns him into an icon among would-be film-makers the world over. Not one to rest on his laurels, he immediately helms the straight-to-cable movie Roadracers and contributes a segment to the anthology comedy Four Rooms (his will be the most lauded segment).
His first "genuine" studio effort would soon have people referring to him as "John Woo from south-of-the-border". It is the "Mariachi" remake/sequel Desperado. More lavish and action-packed than its own predecessor, the movie--while not a blockbuster hit--does decent business and single-handedly launches the American film careers of Antonio Banderas as the guitarist-turned-gunslinger and Salma Hayek as his love interest (the two would star in several of his movies from then on). It also furthers the director's reputation of working on low budgets to create big results. In the year when movies like Batman Forever and GoldenEye were pushing budgets past the $100 million mark, Rodriguez brought in "Desperado" for just under $7 million. The film also featured a cameo by fellow indie film wunderkind, Quentin Tarantino. It would be the beginning of a long friendship between the two sprinkled with numerous collaborations. Most notable the Tarantino-penned vampire schlock-fest From Dusk Till Dawn. The kitschy flick (about a pair of criminal brothers on the run from the Texas Rangers, only to find themselves in a vamp-infested Mexican bar) became an instant cult favourite and launched the lucrative film career of ER star George Clooney.
After a two-year break from directing (primarily to spend with his family, but also developing story ideas and declining Hollywood offers) he returned to "Dusk till Dawn" territory with the teen/sci-fi/horror movie The Faculty, written by Scream writer, Kevin Williamson. Although it's developed a small following of its own, it would prove to be Robert's least-successful film. Critics and fans alike took issue with the pedestrian script, the off-kilter casting and the flick's blatant over-commercialization (due to a marketing deal with clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger). After another three-year break, Rodriguez returned to make his most successful (and most unexpected) movie yet, based on his own segment from Four Rooms. After a string of bloody, adult-oriented action fare, no one anticipated him to write and direct the colourful and creative Spy Kids, a movie about a pair of prepubescent Latino sibs who discover that their lame parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) are actually two of the world's greatest secret agents. The film was hit among both audiences and critics alike.
After quitting the Writers' Guild of America and being introduced to digital filmmaking by George Lucas, Robert immediately applied the creative, flexible (and cost-effective) technology to every one of his movies from then on, starting with an immediate sequel to his family friendly hit: Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams which was THEN immediately followed by the trilogy-capper Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. The latter would prove to be the most financially-lucrative of the series and employ the long-banished movie gimmick of 3-D with eye-popping results. Later the same year Rodriguez career came full circle when he completed the final entry of the story that made brought him to prominence: "El Mariachi". The last chapter, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, would be his most direct homage to the Sergio Leone westerns he grew up on. With a cast boasting Antonio Banderas (returning as the gunslinging guitarist), Johnny Depp (as a corrupt CIA agent attempting to manipulate him), Salma Hayek, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe and Eva Mendes, the film delivered even more of the Mexican shoot-'em-up spectacle than both of the previous films combined.
Now given his choice of movies to do next, Robert sought out famed comic book writer/artist Frank Miller, a man who had been very vocal of never letting his works be adapted for the screen. Even so, he was wholeheartedly convinced and elated when Rodriguez presented him with a plan to turn Miller's signature work into the film Sin City. A collection of noir-ish tales set in a fictional, crime-ridden slum, the movie boasted the largest cast Rodriguez had worked with to that date. Saying he didn't want to mere "adapt" Miller's comics but "translate" them, Rodriguez' insistence that Miller co-direct the movie lead to Robert's resignation from the Director's Guild of America (and his subsequent dismissal from the film John Carter as a result). Many critics cited that Sin City was created as a pure film noir piece to adapt Miller's comics onto the screen. Co-directing with Frank Miller and 'Quentin Tarantino' (who guest-directed in That Yellow Bastard) allowed Rodriquez to again shock Hollywood with his talent.
In late 2007, Rodriquez again teamed up with his friend Tarantino to create the double-episode film, The Grindhouse featuring Rodriquez's offering of Planet Terror. Planet Terror was a film shot in the specific genre of "hardcore, extreme, sex-fueled, action packed." Rodriguez flirts with his passion to make a showy film exploiting all of his experience to make an extremely entertaining thrill ride. The film is encompassed around Cherry (Rose McGowan), a reluctant go-go dancer who is found wanting when she meets her ex-lover El Wray (played by Freddy Rodríguez) who turns up at a local BBQ grill. They then, after a turn of events, find themselves fending off brain-eating zombies whilst trying to flee to Mexico (here we go off to Mexico again). Apart from directing, Rodriquez also involves himself in camera work, editing and composing music for his movies sound tracks (he composed the Planet Terror main theme). He also shoots a lot of his own action scenes to get a direct idea from his eye as the director into the film. In El Mariachi, Rodriquez spent hours in front of a pay-to-use, computer editing his film. This allowed him to capture the ideal footage exactly as he wanted it. Away from the filming aspect of Hollywood, Rodriguez is an expert chef who cooks gourmet meals for the cast and crew. Rodriquez is also known for his ability to turn a low-budgeted film with a small crew into an example of film mastery. El Mariachi was "the movie made on seven grand" and still managed to rank as one of Rodriguez' best films (receiving a rating of 92% on the Rotten Tomatoes film review site).
Because Rodriquez is involved so deeply in his films, he is able to capture what he wants first time, which saves both time and money. Rodriguez's films share some similar threads and ideas, whilst also having differences. In El Mariachi, he uses a hand-held camera. He made this decision for several reasons. First, he couldn't afford a tripod and secondly, he wanted to make the audience more aware of the action. In the action sequences he is given more mobility with a hand-held camera and also allows for distortion of the unprofessional action sequences (because the cost of all special effects in the film totaled $600). However, in Sin City and Planet Terror, the budget was much greater, and Rodriquez could afford to spend more on special affects (especially since both films were filmed predominately with green screen) and, thus, there was no need to cover for error.
Playing by his own rules or not at all, Robert Rodriguez has redefined what is and is not for a film-maker to do. Shunning Hollywood's ridiculously-high budgets, multi-picture deals and the two most powerful unions for the sake of maintaining creative freedom are decisions that would (and have) cost many directors their careers. Rodriguez has turned these into his strengths, creating some of the most imaginative works the big-screen has ever seen.
Thomas Edward Hulce was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Plymouth, MI, where he was raised with his two sisters and older brother. He is the son of Joanna (Winkleman), who had sung professionally, and Raymond Albert Hulce, who worked for Ford. He has English, German, and Irish ancestry. Wanting to be a singer, Tom had to make a switch in plans when his voice began changing. Knowing that if he wanted to be in show business he needed to become an actor, Tom began taking the necessary steps almost immediately.
When asked once why he chose acting Tom replied, "Because someone told me I couldn't." It is determination like this that has helped him achieve his respected position in the acting community to this day. Tom set goals early on. Graduating from school at 19 years old, he gave himself a decade to succeed as an actor. Working in Ann Arbor as usher and ticket seller with a small theatrical company was a start. It was around this time he saw the first play and actor that made him realize that acting was "cool." Christopher Walken was in a play in Stratford, Ontario. The performance made quite an impression on Tom.
While Mr. and Mrs. Hulce weren't totally sold on the idea of their son becoming a thespian, Tom had determination and headed off for the training he knew he'd need if he was going to achieve his goal. He studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem; at Booth Bay Harbor, Maine; Sarasota, Florida; and spent a summer in England before heading off to New York City to try his hand at Broadway. Within a month after his arrival, Tom was chosen to understudy the role being performed by Peter Firth in the Broadway play "Equus." He had originally been hired to play one of the horses but it was decided that his time was better spent learning the understudy role and so he never donned the attire of the horse.
Tom had pangs of guilt where this role was concerned. On one hand he wanted the role ... badly. On the other hand he wondered what would happen if Peter left the role; could he fill those shoes? When the time came, nine months after being hired, Tom found out that it was up to him to play the role as his own. He wasn't expected to be another Peter Firth... he had been hired to play the role his way. "... it actually went quite well, " Tom recalled. "I realized I was a different actor and that I would tackle the part in my own way." And tackle it he did! Equus has a few "firsts" for Tom. One, it was his first big role; two, it was his first Broadway role and third, it was his first nude performance. For nine minutes Tom and his costar, Roberta Maxwell, were naked in a scene that seemed impossible for the stage a decade earlier (1960s). In a past interview Tom reflected, "It's so skillfully written and developed that it doesn't seem an unusual thing to do. There's no embarrassment, I just don't think about it at all." During the run of "Equus," Tom turned down a big television offer, to the delight of the director and cast. At that time in Tom's life the stage was all there was, and he was going to do it right! Other plays that followed "Equus" were George S. Kaufman's "Butter and Egg Man," Arthur Miller's "Memory of Two Mondays," along with such works as "Julius Caesar," "Romeo and Juliet," Shaw's "Candida," and Chekhov's "The Sea Gull," and, again on Broadway in his Tony nominated role in Aaron Sorkin's "A Few Good Men."
Tom has even directed the off-Broadway musical "Sleep Around Town" at Playwrights Horizon. Back in 1977 Tom landed his first motion picture role in the film about the day James Dean died, September 30, 1955 This was to be the first of a long line of period films. His next was National Lampoon's Animal House. Set in the 1960's, Tom played "Pinto" along with such comedy alumni as'John Belushi', Tim Matheson, and Donald Sutherland.
1984 gave him the role that put him on the map. The title role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the Oscar-winner Amadeus was such a wonder that it even boosted the sales of Mozart's music by 30%! Filmed in Prague, it was eerie for Tom to actually be standing in the very spot where the original Amadeus had stood conducting the opera Tom was recreating for the film. Dressed in a purple velvet jacket, knickers and white hose, wearing a bushy white wig and doling out a hilarious laugh (often likened to that of a hyena's) Tom's portrayal of the "man-child" musical genius was an Oscar-nominated performance.
Tom has been in many more films set in the past: Those Lips, Those Eyes(1950s), Shadowman (World War II), Mary Shelley's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1800s), Wings of Courage(1930's), and Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame(1500s). Tom appeared in Echo Park with Susan Dey, a film that had a struggle to get released remains one of Tom's best performances and one that he is quite proud of. Another film that Tom feels a lot of pride for is Dominick and Eugene. Starring with Ray Liotta and Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom played Dominick Luciano, a mentally handicapped twin brother to Liotta's Eugene. The young man works as a garbage collector to help put his brother through medical school so he can become a "rich doctor" and they can afford to get a "house by a lake." Tom spent time studying people in a Pittsburgh neighborhood and handicapped people in an occupational training center so he could master the innocence and determination that the lead role required. He received the Best Actor award at the Seattle Fest for his performance.
Murder in Mississippi was Tom's second television movie (the first was Forget-Me-Not-Lane (aka "Neli, Neli"), a Hallmark Hall of Fame production). Playing the role of Michael Schwerner, the New York social worker and Freedom Fighter who is murdered by K.K.K. members in 1964 during Freedom Summer, Tom received an Emmy nomination and his third Golden Globe nomination.
The Inner Circle (aka "The Projectionist") took Tom to Russia where he was Ivan Sanshin, the private film projectionist to Stalin within the Kremlin walls. Based on a true story, Ivan was a perfect example of how many were blinded to the horrific conditions that men like Stalin conducted and followed in ignorant loyalty. While there, Tom was fortunate to meet and spend time with Alexander Ganshin, upon whose life the film was based.
The next three years held special items for Tom. His portrayal of Peter Patrone, in T.N.T.'s The Heidi Chronicles, earned him an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special, and 1994 and 1996 brought two of Tom's last period pieces. Mary Shelley's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein had Tom playing opposite Kenneth Branagh as Victor Frankenstein's college chum, Henry. And 1996 was a whole new experience for Tom. Disney was looking for someone special to portray their gentle Quasimodo in their newest full feature animation motion picture, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Tom had never done voiceover work for a full film; to sing before a microphone was one thing, but to do song and voice for someone that he couldn't watch while performing was a whole new experience for him. Herecalled that when he first auditioned he thought it strange that the producers and director stood looking at the floor while he sang...until he noticed they were looking at sketches of Quasimodo and were trying to "feel" if he sounded like their bell ringer.
1998 saw Tom returning to the stage but this time as director again, as he undertook the enormous task of bringing John Irving's 1985 novel, "The Cider House Rules", to the stage. An 8-hour production which required the audience two days to see the whole performance, it was quite an undertaking. Co-directing with Jane Jones (of "BookIt" in Seattle, Washington) Tom took the play from its Seattle opening to the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California where it received wonderful reviews.
For the past eight years Tom has resided in Seattle, Washington where he owns his own home. He figures he could live in Los Angeles or New York - the acting hubs - but in Seattle, he's near the things he loves. "Up in Seattle people look after their lives in a way you can't do in New York or Los Angeles," he says. But no matter where he calls home, we can always count on Tom for bringing us into a world that will thrill, excite, fascinate, move and inspire us either through his films, the stage, or his beautiful singing.