Film acting is built from the very stuff of social life: norms of behavior, standards of interaction and communication, communally legible gestures, and personality tropes and dynamics. But if this poses a challenge for the critic, it’s also the reason acting styles, taken in the aggregate, are such unusually good barometers of cultural modes, themes, and ideas, whether they respond to prevalent motifs or are generated themselves.
John Cho, star of the new Star Trek movies, Harold & Kumar, and Selfie, as well as the recent internet meme #starringjohncho, gives an honest, insightful interview about his experience as a Korean-American actor in Hollywood. Plus, an answer to the question: should Mr. Sulu have a human husband?
"The most amazing gift about Matt's physical appearance is that he can walk into the hair-and-makeup trailer looking like someone who slept directly on his face for seven hours and emerge a bona fide movie star. He has a great makeup artist." GQ rounds up friends and co-workers for an oral history of the most likable man in Hollywood, Matt Damon.
"... since the audience could not, would not, and did not, endure his interpretations of the classics. A riot was the inevitable result, death or serious injury the probable outcome, of these attempts." So wrote Edith Sitwell of the in/famous amateur thespian Robert "Romeo" Coates in her book English Eccentrics, here appreciated by the Paris Review blog. [more inside]
Britain has changed so quickly, the gains of 40 years of social progress undone in half a generation, that most of us are still struggling to compute it, but the evidence is right there in front of us, on our cinema and television screens. It’s not posh-bashing to say this is a problem.Why Working-class Actors Are a Dying Breed, The Observer (8 May 2016).
John Cho could be your hero, your spy, your boyfriend. Given that a few well-known directors are unfamiliar with any "Asian movie stars", and others are less than thrilled with the notion of casting one in the lead, William Yu has taken on the effort of re-imagining various movies with Korean-American actor John Cho as a lead. [more inside]
How does a TV show go from an idea to something you can watch ? Caroline Framke spent six months following the production of an episode of FX's critically lauded spy drama 'The Americans' to find out.
New Software Can Actually Edit Actors' Facial Expressions A new software, from Disney Research in conjunction with the University of Surrey, may help cut down on the number of takes necessary, thereby saving time and money. FaceDirector blends images from several takes, making it possible to edit precise emotions onto actors’ faces. [more inside]
Her Story is a 6-episode new-media series that looks inside the dating lives of trans & queer women as they navigate the intersections of desire & identity.The show is co-written, co-produced, and co-starred by writer and One Billion Rising organizer Laura Zak and founder of The Trans 100 and We Happy Trans Jen Richards, and also stars Angelica Ross, founder of Trans Tech Social Enterprises. (CW: One of the side characters is hella transphobic, and there's smatterings of casual transphobia.)
Actor Alan Rickman, active in theater and film for 30 years and known for roles such as Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter, has died at age 69 from cancer.
In the Room Where It Happens, Eight Shows a Week and 8 Places to Celebrate Alexander Hamilton's birthday in New York and Beyond
Jared Leto taking on the mantle of The Joker for the upcoming
Suicide Squad Badguy Patrol movie met with a great deal of conversation when it was announced in 2014. Recent leaks from the set indicate that Leto is falling wholeheartedly into the role, taking a method acting approach to getting into the insanely dark and twisted inner life of the character. Twitter reports.
RIP: Workshops. WTF is a Lab? "Now you're confused. 'Then, what's a Lab?' 'It's the exact same thing as a workshop, but without the good shit." [more inside]
The Many Facets of Hamlet: Hamlet's most famous monologue, spliced together from performances by Mel Gibson, Laurence Olivier, David Tennant, and Kenneth Branagh. [more inside]
Ian McKellen gives an hour long presentation featuring some of the amazing women he's worked with over his 50 year acting career.
RIP actor Warren Mitchell who had significant career on both stage and screen but will always be best remembered for playing the iconic and controversial bigot, Alf Garnett in the British television series Till Death Us Do Part and In Sickness and in Health [more inside]
How did they get those dogs to do that? "Hundreds of dogs rise up against their oppressors in this visually stunning, one-metaphor-fits-all Hungarian drama... a film featuring 274 dogs, no CGI, and a pair of canine protagonists who consistently out-emote their human co-stars."
[slatlantic] Are you telling me there’s nothing there worth playing?
Omar Sharif, 83, a Star in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Doctor Zhivago,’ Dies. [New York Times]
Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor who rode out of the desert in the 1962 screen epic “Lawrence of Arabia” into a glamorous if brief reign as an international star in films like “Dr. Zhivago” and “The Night of the Generals,” died on Friday in Cairo. He was 83. His death, at a hospital, was caused by a heart attack, his agent, Steve Kenis, said. Mr. Sharif — who later became as well known for his mastery of bridge as he was for his acting — was a commanding, darkly handsome presence on screen. He was multilingual as well, and comfortable in almost any role or cultural setting.
But yes, definitely, I acknowledge that Joss Whedon, despite being one of my faves, is problematic and that in general yes Your Fave is Problematic. I’d even say that the particular idiosyncratic tics and hypocrisies and contradictions in Joss Whedon’s brand of feminism bear examination, that if we can be mean enough to make a Hollywood in-joke out of parodying the characteristic style of Michael Bay and James Cameron someone by now should’ve done it to Joss Whedon.
Someone did. It was Joss Whedon.
Someone did. It was Joss Whedon.
In late 2002, less than two years before his death, Marlon Brando held a 10-day acting symposium called "Lying for a Living." "Some memories of the event — like the exact address of the warehouse in North Hollywood where it took place — are a little hazy. It was, after all, 13 years ago. But nobody who was part of that extraordinary 10-day acting workshop ever will forget a single detail about Marlon Brando’s entrance."
'Looper's Noah Segan (aka Kid Blue) Explains What It's Really Like As a Working Actor
While waiting to interview Looper director Rian Johnson during Fantastic Fest, a chance encounter challenged even my notions of what it meant to be a movie star. Sitting there, in the garish luxury of the Four Seasons hotel lobby, I met a rather lost-looking young man with whom I struck up a conversation. He was passionate and sharp, and it took a good five minutes before I recognized him as Noah Segan, the actor who played Kid Blue in Looper. I assumed he too had been sent by the studio to promote the movie, but in fact he had come of his own volition, on his own dime, and was being soundly ignored by the publicists.[more inside]
Talking with Noah, it became clear that, though he had appeared in several theatrical films, he was far from living the life of privilege and extreme comfort we tend to associate with movie stars. Noah’s experience echoes those of many with occupations in the creative field; the epitome of the blue-collar artist. This interview was completely unexpected, and we didn’t end up talking much about the movie, but if you’re struggling with the financial logistics of doing what you love professionally, you too will probably find a kindred spirit in Kid Blue.
Michael Caine on Acting in Film is 58 minutes from a 1987 BBC documentary in which Michael Caine teaches some actors about how to adjust their performance for the movie camera instead of the stage. Worth watching if you're interested in acting or movies, or if you just like seeing someone who's very good at his job explaining how he does it. [more inside]
"One day early in 1954, Mary Martin and her husband, Richard Halliday, were driving on the Merritt Parkway, near their home in Norwalk, Connecticut. On the car radio came Frank Sinatra’s new hit, “Young at Heart.” It was perfect! That is, the song had the exact sentiment and feel they wanted for the pet project they’d long been planning, a musical version of J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play Peter Pan (original subtitle: “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”). Right on the spot, they decided they’d hire whoever had written the song to compose the score for their production." [more inside]
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau speaking at UCLA 12/1/1971 (audio with rotating pictures, 45 min 25 sec) [SLYT]
This morning, the New York Times published "Wrought in Their Creator’s Image", an article talking about the new network series “How to Get Away With Murder", produced by Shonda Rimes and starring Viola Davis. The articles claims about the beauty and character of Black women have created a discussion, from Rimes herself and others about the stereotype of the "angry Black woman" and whether Ms. Davis is, as the Times suggests #lessclassicallybeautiful than other women because of the age and color of her skin.
Bruce Dern is a life-long runner. Three interviews with Runner's World discuss his obsession with running and how it interplays with his acting. From 1978, Running Is a Hard Act to Follow:
In the case of certain roles such as The King of Marvin Gardens, where the character stays with me for months after the movie is over, it is hard to get rid of him. It’s a frustration of the character. I think the same thing is true of running. All of my acting is on the theory of working from the inside out. Everything happens inside and then it comes out and the person grows out of that. Well, the running is the same thing for me. It happens from the inside out. It's the need and the desire that then makes the body go out and do it. And the desire to improve.[more inside]
Broadway's Patrick Page Shares His Personal Struggle with Depression The night I heard that Robin Williams died, I slept very little. And it wasn't just grief keeping me awake. It was fear. I know my depression is lurking just around the corner-waiting. As Harvey Fierstein says, "All it wants to do is get you alone in a room and kill you."
"This summer marks 20 years since Inside the Actors Studio debuted and so here are some of those appearances that both "won" and "lost" the show, those appearances which through the alchemical/semantic machinery of celebrity made their actors never less than or much too much."
The Actors School is a (fake) docu-soap about an acting school, featuring an interesting interpretation of a scene from Friends.
Mey from Autostraddle interviews actress and advocate Laverne Cox on her Emmy nomination, the epidemic of violence against trans women of color, and how to create a more supportive and loving community. [more inside]
The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable video: Comedy Actresses. Stacey Wilson sits down with The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, New Girl's Zooey Deschanel, Nurse Jackie's Edie Falco,The Mindy Project's Mindy Kaling, Shameless' Emmy Rossum, and Orange Is the New Black's Taylor Schilling, to talk about stupid questions from the media, disastrous auditions, odd fan interactions, the crazy stuff people tell them, and the state of American TV. (1:03:14, highlight transcription available)
In a new production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice (Orpheus and Eurydice) in Vienna, the part of Euridice is shared between the soprano Christiane Karg, who sings from the stage, and Karin Anna Giselbrecht, a young woman in a persistent vegetative state, who lies in a nearby hospital. "The music is played to her and video cameras relay her image to the stage." [From the opera blog Intermezzo.] [more inside]
Anne Helen Petersen of " Scandals Of Classic Hollywood" fame talks about Zac Efron, the impossible demands of movie masculinity, and the history of the Teen Idol Industry on BuzzReads
SF/F legend Connie Willis pours a preview of a near-future version of the story of backstage back-stabbing, " All About Eve" with "All About Emily" for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
The BBC put together a series of television commentaries from Orson Welles, "Orson Wells' Sketchbook" none of which need more than his then slightly unfamiliar face (without, he underscores, the usual false nose he wears for roles), his unmistakable voice, and his illustrations — taken, literally, from his sketchbook. In these six fifteen-minute broadcasts, which originally aired in 1955, Welles talks about not just the inauspicious beginnings of his illustrious working life but his experiences with the critics, the police, John Barrymore and Harry Houdini, the infamous radio production of War of the Worlds , and bullfighting Playlist here.
Adam Pearson suffers from neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes tumors to grow on his face. They are sizable. You wouldn't fail to notice them, even from a distance. Nonetheless, he appears in a small but absolutely pivotal role in Under the Skin, opposite Scarlett Johansson, playing a sexy alien serial killer, in one of the most remarked-upon scenes in the film. "[Facial scars and other disfigurements are] always used very lazily" by filmmakers, he tells The Guardian. "In an ideal world actors with conditions would play the characters with these same conditions.... If they'd got Adam Sandler and blacked him up to play Nelson Mandela, there would have been an uproar ... but with scars and stuff, it seems like people are cool with that." [more inside]
"To be honest," he says, "I had got to the point in London when I started to feel a little frustrated. I know moaning is part of our national character, but I hate it. And I found myself moaning a lot about theatre. Why did they decide to put that on? How come he got to direct that? And why is it that they only want plays about black people who are part of the underclass or involved in street crime? Is it because those are the only types of plays about minorities that ageing white middle-aged reviewers feel they can understand? I just found myself moaning and moaning and moaning…" (slGrauniad)
Last week's episode of True Detective featured a stirring tent-revival sermon from a wildly charismatic preacher. It was heavily edited with dialogue between the stars of the show. Nic Pizzolatto (the writer/creator of the series) thought it so good, he released the full 6-minute sermon for you to enjoy. [more inside]
Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare (SLVimeo) a one-man show of Shakespearean monologues from 1982
The Dissolve (previously, previously) looks at the Coen Brothers' 1996 "homespun Midwestern murder story" Fargo: Masculinity And Mike Yanagita, Keynote: Fargo in Five Quotes, Morality And The Coens
Behind The Voice Actors is an IMDB-like resource for looking up voice actors. Though it has articles, features, and trailers, it also provides fascinating time-sucks, as you can compare every actor who's played a character (for example: X-Men's Gambit or Batman's Joker) or every character an actor played ("Oh, hey! the same dude played Captain N and Ed from Ed Edd & Eddy!"). Happy clicking!
Everybody's got to start somewhere, right? So why not enjoy Charity Scanvenger Hunt organizer and Supernatural star Misha Collins' excruciatingly earnest acting debut in the 1999 educational film NO BRAINERS ON TAXES.