Most of the trivia listed here are courtesy of IMDb or Wikipedia, unless otherwise noted.
TRIVIA on Lawrence of Arabia:
The role of Sherif Ali was originally intended for Horst Buchholz but he was forced to turn it down owing to his commitment to Billy Wilder’s movie One, Two, Three. Second choice Alain Delon tested successfully but suffered problems with the brown contact lenses required for the role. Maurice Ronet was then cast but was replaced after difficulties with his French accent and his Arabian dress (Lean complained “He looked like me walking around in drag”).
Marlon Brando was signed for the role of T.E. Lawrence in 1960 but dropped out to take the role of Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty. After that, Anthony Perkins was also briefly considered.
While filming, Peter O’Toole bonded with co-star Omar Sharif. Recalls Sharif, “Peter and I were like brothers immediately. He said to me, ‘Your name is not Omar Sharif – no one is called Omar Sharif. Your real name is probably Freddy something!’ And for the rest of the film and the rest of our lives, he’s never called me Omar. He calls me Freddy.”
To film Omar Sharif’s entrance through a mirage, Freddie Young used a special 482mm lens from Panavision. Panavision still has this lens, and it is known among cinematographers as the “David Lean lens”. It was created specifically for this shot and has not been used since.
Peter O’Toole finally mastered his camel-riding technique by adding a layer of sponge rubber under the saddle to ease his bruised backside…a practical innovation quickly adopted by the actual Bedouin tribesmen acting as extras during the desert location filming.
Peter O’Toole is considerably taller and better looking than the real T.E. Lawrence (6’3″ to Lawrence’s real life height of 5’6″). Noel Coward is rumored to have said, on seeing the premiere, “If he’d been any prettier, they’d have had to call it Florence of Arabia.”
Alec Guinness had a life-long interest in T.E. Lawrence, and had played him in a production of Terence Rattigan’s play “Ross” on stage. Guinness wanted very much to play Lawrence, but David Lean and Sam Spiegel both told him he was too old. Laurence Olivier was the original choice for Prince Feisal, and Guinness was shifted to that role when Olivier turned it down.
Peter O’Toole was nearly killed during the first take of the Aqaba scene. A gun (used to signal the beginning of the scene) went off prematurely, and O’Toole’s camel panicked, throwing him to the ground, while the extras on horseback began charging. Fortunately for O’Toole, his camel stayed still and stood over O’Toole, saving him from being trampled.
The film took longer to make than it did for the real T.E. Lawrence to go from lieutenant to colonel, to see the desert tribes united and tip the balance in the Allies’ favor against the Turks in World War I.
Alec Guinness was made up to look like the real Faisal as close as possible. When they were shooting in Jordan, several people who knew the man mistook him for the real thing. Guinness shaved his head for his role.
Anthony Quinn applied his own make-up and would often arrive in real Arab clothes. At one point, David Lean mistook him for a native on the studio lot and so he sent his assistant to tell Quinn that he had replaced by this new arrival.
The film was banned in many Arab countries as they felt they were misrepresented. Omar Sharif arranged with President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt to view the film to show him there was nothing wrong with the way they were portrayed. Nasser loved the film and allowed it to be released in Egypt where it went on to become a monster hit.
Peter O’Toole claimed that he learned more about acting from his few days of filming with José Ferrer than he did in all his years at drama school.
At one point when filming was progressing far too slowly for his liking, producer Sam Spiegel invited William Wyler to visit the set. He wanted Wyler to encourage Lean to rely more on his second units for filming additional scenes, as he had done on Ben-Hur. The visit was to no avail, however, as Lean was too much of a perfectionist to relinquish control.
The film missed out on a 11th Oscar nomination – for Best Costume Design – because someone forgot to submit Phyllis Dalton’s name for consideration.
Dalton devised a subtle way to indicate T.E. Lawrence’s failing grip. As the film progresses, his robes become thinner and thinner until they are virtually translucent.
TRIVIA On STOKER and its director Chan-wook Park:
This is director Park’s first English-language film.
The script was included in 2010′s “Black List” of best un-produced screenplays. Prison Break star Wentworth Miller wrote the script in his screenwriting debut.
Carey Mulligan, Kristen Stewart, Rooney Mara, Emily Browning, Emma Roberts, Bella Heathcote and Ashley Greene were considered to play India Stoker.
Carey Mulligan and Jodie Foster were originally cast but both dropped out and were replaced by Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman.
Colin Firth, James Franco, Joel Edgerton, and Michael Fassbender were considered for the role of Uncle Charlie. Firth was actually cast, but he dropped out and was replaced by Matthew Goode [interestingly, Goode played his deceased lover in A Single Man].
Trivia & Quotes of Chan-wook Park:
Turned down the chance to remake The Evil Dead.
His films “Sympathy for Mr Vengeance”, “Oldboy” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” are widely known as the “Vengeance Trilogy”.
Was a student of philosophy at Sogang University in Seoul.
Met wife at a university film club in the 80s. They have one daughter.
Member of the Jury at the Venice Film Festival in 2006.
Decided to become a filmmaker after seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.
“I don’t feel enjoyment watching films that evoke passivity. If you need that kind of comfort, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t go to a spa.”
“In our lives, we have good things and bad things, happiness and pain. Life is full of pain and happiness and that’s what I wanted to show.”
“I have principles and rules. I deal very carefully with acts of violence and make sure that audiences understand how much suffering these acts cause.”
“In my films, I focus on pain and fear. The fear just before an act of violence and the pain after. This applies to the perpetrators as well as the victims”
TRIVIA on ZERO DARK THIRTY:
Joel Edgerton was originally cast in a leading role, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by Jason Clarke. However, when the conflicts were resolved, Edgerton was able to return and Clarke was given another role.
Rooney Mara was originally cast but had to drop out and was replaced by Jessica Chastain.
The movie was originally about the unsuccessful decade-long manhunt for Osama bin Laden. The screenplay was completely re-written after bin Laden was killed.
James Cameron, ex-husband of eventual director Kathryn Bigelow, was previously in negotiations to direct the film, but dropped out to produce the sequels to Avatar
Jordan and Chandigarh (Capital of states Punjab & Haryana, in India), near the Pakistani border, were used as stand-ins to duplicate scenes taking place in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some second unit film footage was also actually shot in Pakistan.
The climactic sequence devoted to the raid on Osama’s compound runs about 25 minutes, only a few minutes less than the real-life SEALs assault.
The film’s working title was For God and Country. The title Zero Dark Thirty was officially confirmed at the end of the film’s teaser trailer.
Parts of the film were shot at PEC University of Technology in Chandigarh, India. Some parts of Chandigarh were designed to look like Lahore and Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was found and killed on May 2, 2011. Local protesters expressed anti-Osama and anti-Pakistan sentiments as they objected to Pakistani locations being portrayed on Indian land.
Mark Boal has stated his interest in making a prequel to Zero Dark Thirty one day, based upon a true story as well, and it being a more action-packed film as was originally intended with Zero Dark Thirty.
Trivia on Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT:
Daniel Radcliffe, David Tennant, Shia LaBeouf, James McAvoy, Erryn Arkin and Tobey Maguire were considered for the role of Bilbo Baggins.
The film will be shot on thirty Red Epic cameras. The Epic is the new model of Red that is expected to have widespread availability around April 2011.
Ron Perlman was up for a role when Guillermo del Toro was the director, but after del Toro left, so did Perlman. David Tennant was rumored to be playing Thranduil before Lee Pace was cast.
Both Ian Holm and Christopher Lee filmed their scenes at London’s Pinewood Studios because, due to reasons of health, neither were comfortable flying to New Zealand.
The Hobbit is the first feature film to be shot and projected at 48 frames per second, twice as fast as the industry standard of 24 frames. The intention of this is to provide the film smoother, more realistic motion with reduced strobing. This is particularly beneficial when viewing the film in 3D, as the higher frame rate helps to correctly synchronize the images for each eye.
Richard Armitage has said that his first experience acting on stage was playing an elf in a theatrical production of The Hobbit.
TRIVIA on The Hobbit Books from shmoop.com:
When publisher George Allen first received the manuscript of The Hobbit from dusty academic J.R.R. Tolkien, he gave his ten-year-old son a shilling (about fifty cents) to write a report on whether he should publish it. His son later commented: that was “the best shilling my father ever spent” (source: “Jumping on to the Baggins wagon,” The Times, December 28, 1991). We owe so much to this one kid and his fifty cents.
In an interview, Tolkien commented: “I don’t know where the word [hobbit] came from. You can’t catch your mind out. It might have been associated with Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt. Certainly not rabbit, as some people think” (source: Charlotte and Denis Plimmer, “The Man Who Understands Hobbits, Daily Telegraph, March 22, 1968). Babbitt is a novel of middle-class conformity, so we guess there could be something related to the hobbits there? It’s a little funny that Tolkien protests so vocally that the word hobbit does not come from rabbit, since Bilbo gets compared to rabbits so often in The Hobbit.
J.R.R. Tolkien left all of his manuscripts to his youngest son, Christopher Tolkien. Christopher Tolkien published The Silmarillion and The History of Middle Earth after his father’s death to provide Tolkien scholars with further insight into the folklore and history of his father’s extensive texts. Christopher Tolkien is also very strict about maintaining the rights to his father’s literary legacy: in 2009, he and his sister, Priscilla, won a 90-million-pound lawsuit again New Line Studios for not sharing in the profits from the three Lord of the Rings films. (source: Jenny Booth, “Tolkien Heirs Win Battle of the Rings; Company to Hand Over a Share of the Huge Profits,” The Times (London), September 10, 2009.)
TRIVIA on SKYFALL
This will be the 23rd James Bond movie in the EON Productions official series and the 25th theatrically released James Bond film overall if one includes the spoof ‘Casino Royale’ and the unofficial ‘Never Say Never Again.’
MGM announced plans to release Bond 23 in November 2012. Producer Barbara Broccoli has said that the series “will go on to other different stories from now on”. This movie will not be a direct follow-on from Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale. Director Sam Mendes has said that ‘Skyfall’ will “not connect” with those two previous Bond movies. Mendes has also stated that the secret criminal organisation Quantum from those two films also will not feature in ‘Skyfall’.
With the use of Quantum of Solace, an original Ian Fleming James Bond story title, for the Bond movie made prior to this, there now remains only four unused original Fleming titles that could possibly have been used as a title for this film. These are “The Property of a Lady”, “The Hildebrand Rarity”, “Risico” and “007 in New York” (aka “Agent 007 in New York”). However, none of these were used, the title being a non-Fleming title ‘Skyfall’.
Freida Pinto, Olivia Wilde, Rachel Weisz, Esti Ginzburg, Margarita Levieva, Alice Eve, Ana Araujo, Emilia Fox and Ebru Akel were rumored to star as Bond Girls before Bérénice Marlohe and Naomie Harris were cast.
Kevin Spacey was considered for a role, but declined due to scheduling conflicts.
As Shanghai has been announced as a shooting location, this movie is the first time a Bond movie has filmed in China. Licence to Kill was originally to be set in China but production difficulties became insurmountable. When the Chinese Government made a number restrictive demands such as veto rights over the script, the viability of the location fell through. ‘Skyfall’ has been rumored to feature a motorcycle chase along the Great Wall of China, a chase sequence originally conceived during development of Licence to Kill. Another sequence, a fight sequence in the then recently discovered museum of ancient terracotta statues at Xian was also scheduled for that movie but no rumors have surfaced of this for ‘Skyfall’.
Judi Dench’s seventh time playing the M character. With the release of this film in 2012, Dench will have played the role of M for seventeen years. This record will tie with Bernard Lee’s stretch playing the M character although in the same amount of time Lee appeared in eleven Bond movies while Dench has been in seven.
Daniel Craig has said that he is worried by the delay in production, and is eager to get back into the role because, at the age of 43, he feels he is already getting too old to cope with the extreme physical demands of playing James Bond.
First English-speaking role for French actress Bérénice Marlohe who plays one of the Bond girls. Marlohe is the first French actress to play a Bond girl in a Bond movie since Eva Green in ‘Casino Royale.’ At the time of casting and the movie’s official press launch, Marlohe has been most famous and notorious for once appearing in a sex scene in a low-budget TV show wearing just a red wig and nothing else.
Javier Bardem’s casting marks the first ever time that a Spanish actor has played the major lead villain in a James Bond movie.
The number of individual Academy Awards totaled from this film’s cast and crew is as follows. Crew: Director Sam Mendes (1 win), cinematographer Roger Deakins (9 nominations), first draft of script by Peter Morgan (2 nominations), final script by John Logan (2 nominations), composer Thomas Newman (8 nominations), Designer Dennis Gassner (1 win & 3 more nominations), and Chris Corbould on special effects (1 win). Cast: Javier Bardem (2 nominations, 1 win), Ralph Fiennes (2 nominations), Albert Finney (5 nominations) and Judi Dench (5 nominations & 1 more win) making at least 38 nominations, and 5 wins.
The London ‘Mirror’ newspaper has reported that about £29 million or about a third of the film’s budget has been raised from product placement deals. Product Placements seen in this movie will include Virgin Atlantic. Virgin CEO Richard Branson had a cameo as a air traveler being searched in ‘Casino Royale.’
Ben Whishaw will be the fourth actor to play Q in the official EON productions James Bond series. This marks the first time that Q will be younger than James Bond, and the first time the character has appeared in the series since ‘Die Another Day.’
TRIVIA on Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’
Before Mark Ruffalo was cast as ‘The Hulk’, Joaquin Phoenix was rumored for the part.
Morena Baccarin, Jessica Lucas, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Cobie Smulders screen tested for the role of Agent Maria Hill. Smulders was eventually cast.
Mark Ruffalo states it was an honour to take over as Bruce Banner from his friend Edward Norton: “Ed has bequeathed this part to me, I look at it as my generation’s Hamlet.”
This film holds an unusually high number of Academy Award nominees in the cast/crew for a comic book movie, or most movies for that matter: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, possibly many others. This tops Iron Man 2, which had set a record by having Downey, Paltrow, Jackson, Mickey Rourke and Don Cheadle.
With Samuel L. Jackson’s role as Nick Fury in this film, he is now the second actor after Hugh Jackman (who has appeared in all ‘X-men’ movies) to play the same comic book superhero in five different movies.
Chris Evans once sent a text message to Clark Gregg simply saying “Assemble”, which is the tagline for the movie. Gregg stated that this was his favorite text message ever sent to him.
The cast became good friends while filming so if all the actors happened to be filming scenes together in the same place, they would go out together after.
Director Joss Whedon had earlier been considered to direct ‘X-Men’ in the 1990s. A big fan of the ‘X-Men’, he even wrote a script, from which only two lines made it into the film.
TRIVIA on GREGORY PECK (1916 – 2003):
Eldred Gregory Peck was born in 1916 in La Jolla, CA and grew up as a loner as a result of his parents divorce by the time he was six. He’s got his start in acting when he was enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley. Influenced by his Pharmacist father, he initially enrolled as a pre-med student, but in his senior year he switched to an English major. It’s also around this time that he got bit by the acting bug, and performed in the University theater.
His love for theater made him move to New York post graduation to pursue a Broadway career. It was then that he dropped his first name and went with his middle name Gregory. He had always hated the name ‘Eldred,’ in his biography by Gary Fishgall, he said “My mother found the name in a phone book, and I was stuck with it.”
Peck made his Broadway debut in 1942 with ‘The Morning Star,’ which caught the attention of Hollywood despite its short theatrical run. Then two years later, came his big break in the form of two movie roles: as a Russian guerrilla fighter in ‘Days of Glory’ and a Catholic priest on a mission to China in ‘The Keys to the Kingdom.’ It’s in his second film that he earned his first of five Academy Award nominations.
Peck married Finnish-born Greta Kukkonen in the Fall of 1942, with whom he had three sons, Jonathan, Stephen, and Carey Paul. They were divorced in 1955, and the day after his divorce was finalized, Peck married Veronique Passani, a Paris news reporter who had interviewed him in 1953 before he went to Italy to film ‘Roman Holiday.’ They had a son, Anthony, and a daughter Cecilia Peck. The couple remained married until Peck’s death on June 12, 2003.
AWARDS & LEGACY:
Peck was nominated for five Academy Awards, finally winning one for Best Actor for his role as Atticus Finch in the 1962 film ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. He was nominated for The Keys of the Kingdom (1945), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) and Twelve O’Clock High (1949). In 1968 he received the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Peck also received many Golden Globe awards. He won in 1947 for ‘The Yearling’, in 1963 for ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, and in 1999 for the TV mini series ‘Moby Dick’. He was nominated in 1978 for ‘The Boys from Brazil’. He received the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1969, and was given the Henrietta Award in 1951 and 1955 for World Film Favorite — Male.
In 1969 US President Lyndon Johnson honored Peck with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 1971 the Screen Actors Guild presented Peck with the SAG Life Achievement Award.
In 1989 the American Film Institute gave Peck the AFI Life Achievement Award. He received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema in 1996.
In 2000 Peck was made a Doctor of Letters by the National University of Ireland. He was a founding patron of the University College Dublin School of Film, where he persuaded Martin Scorsese to become an honorary patron. Peck was also chairman of the American Cancer Society for a short time.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Gregory Peck has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6100 Hollywood Blvd.
The first “Forever” stamp in the United States Postal Service’s Legends of Hollywood series was unveiled on April 28, 2011 featuring Peck in his role as Atticus Finch.
(sources: IMDb & Wikipedia)
Week of 3/5
… on ‘The Hunger Games’ – released on 3/23
The nation of Panem was partly inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus, in which the city of Athens was forced to send young men and women to Crete to be devoured by a Minotaur. In an interview, author Suzanne Collins said, “Crete was sending a very clear message: ‘Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.’”
Chloë Grace Moretz, Mary Mouser, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Lyndsy Fonseca, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, Kaya Scodelario, Emily Browning and Shailene Woodley were considered to play Katniss, the lead role. Jennifer Lawrence won the lead role.
Lead actress Jennifer Lawrence was discovered by a photographer while visiting New York with her mom in 2005, which led to her landing an agent.
Alex Pettyfer, Josh Hutcherson, Lucas Till, Nico Tortorella, Alexander Ludwig, Evan Peters and Hunter Parrish were considered to play Peeta Mellark. Hutcherson was later cast.
Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence, both natural blondes, dyed their hair brown for their roles in the film while Josh Hutcherson, naturally dark-haired, dyed his hair blonde for his part.
Composer Danny Elfman left the film due to a scheduling conflict and was replaced by James Newton Howard.
Week of 1/9
TRIVIA on ‘Roman Holiday’ (1953):
After filming, Gregory Peck informed the producers that, as Audrey Hepburn was certainly going to win an Oscar (for this, her first major role), they had better put her name above the title. They did and she did.
William Wyler at first wanted Jean Simmons to play Ann, and reportedly nearly canceled the project when Simmons proved unavailable.
Audrey Hepburn won the role of Ann thanks to a legendary screen test. In it, she performed one of the scenes from the film, but the cameraman was instructed to keep the cameras rolling after the director said, “Cut.” Several minutes of unrehearsed, spontaneous Hepburn was thus captured on film and this, combined with some candid interview footage, won her the role.
By the time he got the script for this film, Gregory Peck was hungry to do a comedy (he had not been in a comedy on film) and jumped at this opportunity. He later said that, at the time, he felt like every romantic comedy script he had the chance to read “had the fingerprints of Cary Grant on it”.
With a budget of about $1.5 million, the film took $5 million in the domestic market.
Shot in black and white so that the characters wouldn’t be upstaged by the romantic setting of Rome.
For the famous “Mouth of Truth” scene, Gregory Peck ad-libbed the joke where he pretends that his hand was bitten off in the mouth of the stone carving. He borrowed the gag from Red Skelton. Prior to filming the scene, Peck told director William Wyler that he was going to do the gag, but that they should not tell Audrey Hepburn. When Peck pulled his arm out of the stone carving’s mouth with his hand pulled up his sleeve, Hepburn’s horror and surprise was genuine. She gave what she later recalled was “a good and proper scream,” and the scene was finished in one take.
Week of 12/19
Here are a list of roles that Gregory Peck either turned down or didn’t get (per notstarring.com):
Director Orson Welles seriously considered making a Batman movie in 1946, for which the studio wanted Gregory Peck to play Bruce Wayne.
Actor who got the part: Never Made
Cape Fear (1962)
Was approached to play the psychotic and sadistic villain “Max Cady,” but instead wanted the more heroic role.
Actor who got the part: Robert Mitchum
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Gregory Peck was offered the role of Grandpa Joe but passed away before accepting. His family have said that he was excited about playing Grandpa Joe.
Actor who got the part: David Kelly
Considered for the role of Mr. Robinson.
Actor who got the part: Murray Hamilton
Peck was offered the Will Kane role, but didn’t want to do another western after the box-office failure of “The Gunfighter”. It may of also had to do with the fact that scriptwriter Carl Foreman was about to be blacklisted.
Actor who got the part: Gary Cooper
How to Steal a Million
Master director William Wyler first wanted to re-team his “Roman Holiday” stars Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
Actor who got the part: Peter O’Toole
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Gregory Peck was considered for the role of Prof. Henry Jones.
Actor who got the part: Sean Connery
Was considered for the role of Clay Shaw.
Actor who got the part: Tommy Lee Jones
North By Northwest
Peck was considered by Hitchcock for the lead role.
Actor who got the part: Cary Grant
The granite faced star was originally cast as Marcus Vinicius in this Biblical epic, but got an eye infection so he had to be replaced.
Actor who got the part: Robert Taylor
Was enthusiastic to accept the role of Charles Shaughnessy but David Lean turned him down.
Actor who got the part: Robert Mitchum
The Wild Bunch
Turned down the role of “Pike Bishop.”
Actor who got the part: William Holden
Week of 11/14
… on Peter Jackson (per IMDb):
Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8mm movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies, which he made with his friends. They were usually short, but they already had the spectacular trademark that would make Jackson famous: impressive special effects, made at a very low cost.
Always writes his scripts with his wife Fran Walsh. Both of them were awarded Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit on March 5, 2002 for their services to the film industry.
Has been referred to by Fran Walsh as being a hobbit himself, due to his physical stature, his tendency to go barefoot, and the fact that he is swarthy (in Walsh’s words, “furry”).
Credits his favorite movie King Kong (1933) as his biggest inspiration in filmmaking. He said that he cried when King Kong fell off the Empire State Building.
Started writing a re-make of King Kong (1933) in 1996, which went through several drafts, until in 2003 he made one that was greenlighted by Universal.
Lost 70 lbs. during the production of King Kong (2005) and underwent eye surgery during the making of that film to correct his eyesight.
His five favorite films, according to Rotten Tomatoes, are King Kong (1933), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Jaws (1975), Goodfellas (1990) and The General (1926).
Week of 10/10
… on Morgan Freeman (per IMDb):
Considered joining the Air Force to become a fighter pilot but opted to stay with acting instead. He worked as a mechanic in the US Air Force and recently earned a Private Pilot license.
Broadway debut in the musical “Hello, Dolly!” with Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway.
Has his own production company, Revelation Entertainment.
Was nominated for Broadway’s 1978 Tony Award as Best Actor (Feature Role – Play) for ‘The Mighty Gents.’
Speaks fluent French. He gave an introductory speech in French to the crowd of extras gathered in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to portray the Baltimore Super Bowl audience in The Sum of All Fears (2002).
Most of the characters he has played aren’t written specifically for an African-American actor.
Has reprised the same character three times. He played Dr. Alex Cross in Kiss the Girls (1997) and then reprised the role in Along Came a Spider (2001). He also played God in Bruce Almighty (2003) and then reprised that role in Evan Almighty (2007). Finally, he played Lucius Fox in both Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).
The only African-American actor/actress to appear in three Best Picture Oscar Winners: Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).
His performance as “Fast Black” in Street Smart (1987) is ranked #77 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Three films of his are on the American Film Institute’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time. They are: Driving Miss Daisy (1989) at #77, Glory (1989) at #31 and The Shawshank Redemption (1994) at #23.
Has said that watching Gary Cooper’s films in his youth inspired him to become an actor.
Listed his five favorite films as King Kong (1933), High Noon (1952), Moulin Rouge! (2001), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and Moby Dick (1956).
Week of 9/19
… on Emilio Estevez (per IMDb) – his upcoming film The Way opens on October 7:
- Though his father had opted to use the stage name “Sheen” over his more ethnic birth name “Estevez,” Emilio chose to retain the family name, hoping to avoid riding his father’s coattails. He also thought the double “E” set of initials was “pretty.”
- Originally cast as Bender (The Criminal) in the seminal John Hughes flick ‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985), Estevez took the part of Andrew (The Athlete) instead after Hughes could find no one else to fill the role.
- As a film director, he frequently casts members of his family in various roles. Prominent among these are his brother, Charlie Sheen, and his father, Martin Sheen. As a film director, he often puts the most focus on the characters rather than the plot itself.
- Almost went broke while writing the screenplay for ‘Bobby’ (2006). Because of writers block while writing the script for that film, his brother Charlie suggested he change his surroundings. Estevez drove about 150 miles north of Los Angeles and randomly chose a motel to spend the night. While talking about his project with the woman working the front desk, she revealed she was actually in the ballroom the night Robert Kennedy was shot.
- Was originally set to play the lead in Oliver Stone’s ‘Platoon’ (1986), but when production shut down for two years, he moved on to other projects. The role then went to his brother Charlie Sheen.
Week of 8/29
… on Kenneth Branagh (per IMDb):
- Grew up in poverty in the shadow of a tobacco factory in Belfast. Moved to Reading, England at the age of nine. At age 23, he became the youngest actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company to ever play the lead in Shakespeare’s Henry V.
- He was nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actor of 2003 for his performance in “Edmond” at the Royal National Theatre: Olivier Stage.
- Shares two film roles with Laurence Olivier: Henry V and Hamlet. He and Olivier also both directed their own performances in both films. He also directed Sleuth (2007), a remake of the 1972 film, in which Olivier starred. This time, Michael Caine played Olivier’s part, while Jude Law played the second of two roles he shared with Caine–having previously appeared in Alfie (2004). Kenneth Branagh has also played the title role in a Naxos Audiobook CD of “Richard III’, by William Shakespeare, another role that Olivier also played.
- Claims that Derek Jacobi is the reason he got into acting, and thus Jacobi became a frequent collaborator with him in most of his movies.
- He can speak Italian, play guitar, piano and tap.
- He and his ex-wife, Emma Thompson, have appeared in separate films in the Harry Potter series. Branagh played Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), and Thompson played Sybil Trelawney in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Depending on what has been cut from the script for the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) could be the first time both have appeared together in the same film since their divorce. Also appearing in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) is his ex-girlfriend, Helena Bonham Carter.
- Has directed many other Harry Potter cast members in his own movies. Ex-wife Emma Thompson appeared with him in Henry V (1989), Dead Again (1991), and Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Robbie Coltrane appeared in Henry V (1989). Julie Christie and Timothy Spall appeared in Hamlet (1996). Imelda Staunton appeared in Much Ado About Nothing (1993). John Cleese, Robert Hardy, and Helena Bonham Carter appeared in Frankenstein (1994).
Week of 8/1
Trivia of Coriolanus‘ director/star Ralph Fiennes (info from IMDb & Filmbug.com):
- Name pronounced “Rafe Fines”.
- 8th cousin of Prince Charles.
- A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Fiennes began his career on the London stage. He joined Michael Rudman’s company at the Royal National Theatre and later spent two seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). In 1995, Fiennes opened as ‘Hamlet’ in Jonathan Kent’s production of the play, winning a Tony Award for his performance when the production moved to Broadway.
- In 2000, Fiennes returned to the London stage in the title roles of ‘Richard II’ and ‘Coriolanus’. In 2002, he originated the role of Carl Jung in Christopher Hampton’s ‘The Talking Cure’ at the Royal National Theatre and, the following year, played the title role in Ibsen’s Brand at the RSC
- Fiennes was reluctant to take the role of Lord Voldemort in ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ (2005). In a television interview on AMC’s “Shootout” (2003) (November 20, 2005), he claimed to have been unimpressed with the previous three Harry Potter films. Fiennes was apparently nonplussed at the idea of appearing in the fourth film of a series and stated that he had “never bought into [the] world” of Harry Potter. Family members urged him to take the role while other friends counseled against it. He eventually changed his mind after Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell showed Fiennes preproduction conceptions of what the character of Voldemort might look like: “The little kid in me that likes to dress up and be bad went ‘Yeah! I want to do it!’”
Week of 7/3
X-Men: First Class Trivia (info from IMDb):
- Director Matthew Vaughn cited the first two X-Films, Star Trek (2009) and the 1960s Bond films as major influences on this film.
- Both Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy appeared in “Band of Brothers” (2001) at the start of their careers. This marks their first appearance together since then.
- Vaughn was set to direct “Thor” before Kenneth Branagh took over, and two of the writers who wrote “Thor”, Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz also have writing credits for this film.
- Taylor Lautner was considered to play Hank McCoy (aka Beast) but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Nicholas Hoult was later cast.
- Alice Eve was cast as Emma Frost, but a deal couldn’t be reached and January Jones was cast instead.
From blogomatic3000.com with Matthew Vaughn:
The James Bond factor:
“I sat down with Michael and I said that I’d always wanted to do a Bond movie. Imagine that you’re Bond but you don’t have to have gadgets. Bond would have to use his watch to make it magnetic and you can do shit that other people can’t. You’re the ultimate assassin in a world that no one knows about you and your powers. I’ve always loved Magneto. I don’t know why. It’s weird as his power’s bloody odd if you think about it. It’s not that great a power but there’s something about Magneto I’ve always loved.”
Casting Sebastian Shaw:
“There were two actors I was thinking of [for the role of Sebastian Shaw]. There was either Colin Firth or [Kevin] Bacon – and they’re best friends, which I didn’t f*&#ing realise. They were mates. And so they knew about it as well because I was talking to them both at the same time [laughter]. But Fox were nervous about having another Brit in there. I thought it would be very interesting to see Colin Firth playing a villain… But also I’ve been a fan of Kevin’s for a long, long time and Kevin had that bravado that Shaw needed.”
Week of 5/16
Random Trivia on Kenneth Branagh’s THOR (info from IMDb):
In 2005, Matthew Vaughn was going to direct this film, describing it as “the birth of a hero, interweaving ‘Gladiator’ (2000) with Norse mythology.” He went on to direct the superhero films ‘Kick-Ass’ (2010) and for Marvel ‘X-Men: First Class’ (2011).
Kenneth Branagh conceptualized this film as a Norse/comic-book twist on William Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’, which was about a young king who underwent trials and tribulations: fighting a war, courting a girl from another land, and basic character development.
Brad Pitt was rumored for the role of Thor; Channing Tatum and WWE wrestler Paul Levesque (aka Triple H) was considered for the part; Daniel Craig was the first choice; and Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Hemsworth and Joel Kinnaman tested for the role, but finally Liam’s brother Chris Hemsworth got the part.
Tom Hiddleston was chosen after previously collaborating with Kenneth Branagh on the theatrical play ‘Ivanov’ and the TV series “Wallander” (2008). Hiddleston initially auditioned for the role of Thor, but Branagh felt he would make a better antagonist and cast him as Loki.
This is Anthony Hopkins’s first comic book film. He was previously offered the role of Alfred in ‘Batman Begins’ (2005). Hopkins apparently had signed on to play Superman’s father Jor-El in ‘Man of Steel’ in 2002 when Brett Ratner was slated to direct. But the film got delayed and when Ratner left the project, so did Hopkins.
Week of 4/18
TRIVIA on The Passion of the Christ film:
During the scourging scene, actor James Caviezel accidentally got whipped twice. The first time knocked the wind out of him, and the second time hurt so much it caused him wrench his hand quickly from his shackles, scraping his wrist badly.
The accidental whipping left a 14-inch scar on his back and Caviezel also admitted he was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount and during the crucifixion, and experienced hypothermia during the dead of winter in Italy. He also experienced a shoulder separation when the 150lb cross dropped on his shoulder. The scene is still in the movie.
Caviezel was given a prosthetic nose and a raised hairline. His blue eyes were digitally changed to brown on film.
It would usually take over 10 hours to put James Caviezel into the scourged makeup. On some of those days, it would happen that the weather conditions turned out to be unsuitable for filming. To avoid spending more hours to have it removed and re-applied the next day, he kept it on and went to bed in full make-up.
Week of 3/23
Some Trivia on Gary Oldman (source: IMDb & Wikipedia):
Oldman had initially applied for enrolment into the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but was refused entry. Oldman told Charlie Rose in 1995 that he was told to “find something else to do for a living”. Rose, surprised, asked jokingly, “Have you reminded them of this?”, to which Oldman replied that “the work speaks for itself.”
He is a proficient pianist and stated in a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose that he would rather be a musician than an actor. Oldman sang several tracks on the Sid and Nancy soundtrack, and sang and played live piano in the 1988 movie Track 29. He traced over Beethoven compositions in 1994′s ‘Immortal Beloved.’ He also tutored Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on bass guitar.
Has used a different speaking voice (i.e. accent) in practically every movie he’s ever been in.
Week of 2/28
Random CARY GRANT Trivia (courtesy of IMDb):
Ian Fleming modeled the James Bond character partially with Grant in mind.
Turned down the role of James Bond in ‘Dr. No’ (1962), believing himself to be too old at 58 to play the character.
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#22). 
Thanks mainly to the strength and physical dexterity he gained as an acrobat when he was young, he did a majority of his own stunts during his film career (far more than people would think).
Douglas Fairbanks was his boyhood idol, with Fairbanks’ “healthy” tan being the inspiration for Grant’s constantly dark skin.
The late Christopher Reeve said that he based his portrayal of Clark Kent in the ‘Superman’ films on Grant in the early part of his career.
Fell madly in love with Sophia Loren while filming ‘The Pride and the Passion’ (1957) when he was 53 and she was 22, despite the fact that he was married to actress Betsy Drake. However, Loren was seriously involved with producer Carlo Ponti, and her passion fizzled when the film wrapped. Often spoke of his relationship with Sophia Loren as one of the most passionate romances in his life.
Replaced James Stewart as the hapless ad man “Roger Thornhill” in ‘North by Northwest’ (1959). Stewart very much wanted the part, but director Alfred Hitchcock decided not to cast him because of the box office failure of ‘Vertigo’ (1958), which Hitchcock unfairly blamed on Stewart for looking “too old” and chose Grant, instead. In reality, Grant was four years older than Stewart.
He never played a villain and strongly disliked Method acting.
Always cited his ‘To Catch a Thief’ (1955) co-star Grace Kelly as his favorite leading lady.
He turned down the role of Professor Henry Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964) because he felt he would either not be as good as Rex Harrison, who had originated the part on the London stage and on Broadway, or he would be accused of imitating Harrison.
Cary Grant and Charlton Heston attended a dinner at 10 Downing Street honoring the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whom they both greatly admired. Afterward Heston said to his wife Lydia, “You know I sat next to Mrs Thatcher.” She replied, “That’s nothing – I got to sit next to Cary Grant!”
In 1968, he and fellow actor and friend Michael Caine were walking together and a fan approached them, only recognizing Caine. At the end of the conversation, the fan turned to Grant and commented how accommodating today’s film stars are with the public, to which Grant nodded in agreement.
Week of 2/8
HENRY CAVILL has been cast as the new Superman. Here’s some facts about him courtesy of http://henry-cavill.org:
- Henry Cavill grew up in Jersey, Channel Islands
- His dream would be to play Alexander the Great.
- Has an interest in languages; Can speak Italian, French, Nepalese, and Russian.
- Has a pet parrot.
- Favorite actors include Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe.
- His last name, Cavill, is pronounced like “travel”.
- Lost the role of Batman in ‘Batman Begins’ to Christian Bale, James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ to Daniel Craig, Superman in ‘Superman Returns’ to Brandon Routh and Cedric Diggory in ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ to Robert Pattinson.
- In addition, author Stephenie Meyer had Henry in mind for the role of Edward Cullen in the movie adaptation of her vampire romance ‘Twilight,’ but that role also went to Robert Pattinson.
Week of 1/24
- Despite being such a famous A-lister, Keanu Reeves remains somewhat of an enigma to me. Here are some trivia about the seemingly ageless 46-year-old actor:
- His first name is pronounced ‘keh-ah-noo,’ which means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian
- In November 1999, the baby girl he was expecting with girlfriend Jennifer Syme was stillborn, just a few weeks shy of the actual delivery date. A couple of years later, Syme was killed instantly in a car crash in L.A.
- Took a 90% pay cut on his salary on ‘The Replacements’ (2000) so Gene Hackman could be cast. Previously, he had deferred $2 million of his salary so that Al Pacino could be cast on ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ (1997).
- Was originally offered the role of Pvt. Chris Taylor in ‘Platoon’ (1986). Keanu turned it down and the role went to Charlie Sheen.
- Replaced Val Kilmer in ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ (1995) when Kilmer left the project upon being offered the role of Batman in ‘Batman Forever’ (1995). Ironically, Kilmer later replaced the originally-cast Reeves as Chris Siherlis in ‘Heat’ (1995).
- Turned down the role of Racer X in ‘Speed Racer’ (2008). The part eventually went to Matthew Fox.
- Joel Schumacher considered him for the role of The Scarecrow/Jonathan Crane, in the fifth Batman movie had Schumacher gone on to direct ‘Batman 5′. The failure of ‘Batman and Robin’ (1997) prevented that from happening.
Week of 1/2
This Christmas it’s a duel of the Jeff Bridges at the box office… as he’s starring in two highly-anticipated movies of completely different genres: TRON Legacy and True Grit. Below are some of the past roles he was considered for and the ones he turned down:
• Was considered for the part of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976).
• Was considered for the part of Jack in Speed (1994/I).
• Was considered for the role of Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction (1987).
• Considered for Christopher Walken’s role in The Deer Hunter (1978).
• He was strongly considered for the lead role of ‘Quaid’ in Total Recall (1990).
• He was offered the male lead in Love Story (1970). His brother Beau Bridges was the director’s first choice. Both turned it down.
• He was considered for the lead in Kinsey (2004).
• He was considered for the part of Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman (1989).
• Considered for the lead in Big (1988).
• Turned down the role of ‘Hooper’ in Jaws (1975).
• Was director Taylor Hackford’s original choice for the lead role in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), but he had to turn it down due to a busy schedule.
• Turned down the lead role of Indiana Jones, one of the most famous movie characters of all time, in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He does not regret it.
• Turned down the role of “Snake Plissken” in Escape from New York (1981).
Some tidbits about Disney’s TANGLED courtesy of IMDb:
Disney’s previous animated feature The Princess and the Frog (2009), while being highly critically acclaimed and taking in nearly US$270 million worldwide, was not as successful as Disney had hoped. Disney has expressed the belief that the film’s emphasis on princesses may have deterred young boys from seeing the film. In order to market the film to both boys and girls, Disney changed the film’s name from Rapunzel to Tangled, while also emphasizing Flynn Rider, the film’s prominent male character. However, Floyd Norman, a retired Disney and Pixar animator, has criticized the name change as though Disney was desperately making an effort to search for a particular audience.
The character of Flynn Ryder was originally British. Zachary Levi even auditioned for the part, and got it, with a British accent. It wasn’t until later that the character became American. This is Disney’s first CGI Fairytale film and the first animated Disney “princess” film to get a PG rating by the MPAA (all other Disney “princess” films got a G rating).
October – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trivia in anticipation of its release on November 19:
- Not long after Alan Rickman started to play Severus Snape in the first Harry Potter movie (released in 2001), J.K. Rowling told Rickman some character secrets about Snape that would not be otherwise revealed until the last book. Most significantly, for over seven years, Rickman was one of the very few people other than Rowling to know (years ahead of the last book’s publication) that Snape had been in love with Lily Evans (Harry’s mother) when they were students at Hogwarts, and both Snape’s protection of and antagonism toward Harry came from that. Rowling said that she shared this information with Rickman because “He needed to understand, I think, and does completely understand and did completely understand where this bitterness towards this boy, who’s living proof of [Lily's] preference for another man, came from”.
- ‘Deathly Hallows’ is the first time Brendan Gleeson and David O’Hara have acted in the same film since ‘Braveheart’ in 1995. Gleeson plays ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody and O’Hara plays Albert Runcorn – the Ministry of Magic official who Harry impersonates with Polyjuice Potion in order to enter the Ministry.
- Rhys Ifans is thrilled ‘that they thought of me to play a cross-eyed wizard’ (Xenophilus Lovegood, Luna Lovegood’s father) and honoured to act alongside big name actors like Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon but admits that he hasn’t read ‘The Deathly Hallows’ book and is ‘not a big fan of Harry Potter’!
- In the first film, Griphook the goblin was played by Verne Troyer, one of the few Americans in the cast, but voiced by Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick). In ‘Deathly Hallows’ Davis is both Griphook’s body and his voice, whilst continuing to play Flitwick,
- ‘Deathly Hallows’ is the first time Brendan Gleeson and David O’Hara have acted in the same film since ‘Braveheart’ in 1995. Gleeson plays ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody and O’Hara plays Albert Runcorn – the Ministry of Magic official who Harry impersonates with Polyjuice Potion in order to enter the Ministry.
- In the epilogue in ‘Deathly Hallows’ Part 2 the cast play their characters in the future, using a combination of prosthetics, computer generated imagery and convincing acting, as in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’. In this epilogue the wife of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Astoria Greengrass, is played by his real life girlfriend Jade Olivia.
(These trivia are courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk website)
Week of 9/13
Sylvester Stallone apparently rivals that of Sir Sean Connery in terms of how many roles he’s turned down. Below are some listed on IMDb.com:
- Christopher Reeve’s role in Superman (1978)
- Jon Voight’s role in Coming Home (1978)
- Eddie Murphy’s role in Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
- Harrison Ford’s role in Witness (1985)
- Bruce Willis’s roles in Die Hard (1988) and Pulp Fiction (1994)
- John Travolta’s role in Face/Off (1997)
- Samuel L. Jackson’s role in Rules of Engagement (2000)
- Kurt Russell’s role in Death Proof (2007).
- Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role in The Terminator (1984).
- Dudley Moore role in Arthur (1981).
- Keith Carradine’s role in Pretty Baby (1978).
- Turned down the roles played by Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980), An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Pretty Woman (1990).
Week of 8/9
Mark Wahlberg and some friends were actually booked to fly on one of the planes that crashed in to the twin towers on September 11, 2001. Originally planning on flying from Boston to Los Angeles but at the last minute they decided to charter a plane to Toronto, Canada for a film festival and then from there to Los Angeles. A near brush with death that he still dreams about today. “We certainly would have tried to do something to fight. I’ve had probably over 50 dreams about it.”
Week of 7/26
Director Christopher Nolan was born in London, the son of an English advertising copywriter father and an American flight attendant mother, hence his dual citizenship. He spent his childhood in both London and Chicago, and began film-making at the age of seven using his father’s Super 8 camera and his toy action figures. Following Insomnia, his next project was going to be a Howard Hughes biopic starring Jim Carrey. Nolan had the screenplay written (calling it “one of the best things I’ve ever written”), but once it became apparent Martin Scorsese was making his own Hughes biopic The Aviator. (2004), Nolan reluctantly tabled his script and took up directing Batman Begins.
Week of 7/5
As Édith Piaf in La vie en rose (2007), Marion Cotillard was able to gain both critical appraisal as well as commercial success. She won numerous awards including Oscar, Cèsar, Bafta and Golden Globe as best leading actress. She’s only the second leading lady to receive the best actress Oscar for a non-English speaking role since Sophia Loren in 1962 for Two Women (1960).If she had not been an actress, she would have liked to become a singer. Co-wrote and performed song “La Fille De Joie” for her film Les Jolies Choses. Also performed song “La Conne” for this film.
Week of 6/21
Irish actor Cillian Murphy had a thriving rock career in his late teens/early twenties. He and his brother Pádraig formed a band named after a Frank Zappa’s song The Sons of Mr Greengenes, where he sung and played guitar. But he later chose movies over music because of his parents, “They were terrified they were going to lose the both of us into the jaws of the rock’n'roll monster. So, we bailed…”
Week of 6/7
In 1989, while filming Haruki Kadokawa’s Heaven and Earth, Watanabe was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. He returned to acting while simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy treatments, but in 1991 suffered a relapse. As his health improved his career picked back up. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscar in The Last Samurai. Already extremely tall by Japanese standards (6′), he gained a good amount of weight (about 20 pounds) to be an even more imposing presence for his role as Katsumoto in that movie.
Week of 6/14
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO‘s casting trivia:
• Considered for the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man (2002), which went to his childhood BFF Tobey McGuire.
• Screen tested for the part of Robin in Batman Forever (1995).
• Was offered the role of the porn star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights (1997) at around the same time as he was offered his role in Titanic.
• Campaigned for the role of John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009), but Johnny Depp was cast in the part instead.
• Got the role of Rimbaud in Total Eclipse (1995) after River Phoenix’s sudden death in 1993.
Week of 5/31
Colin Farrell‘s new movie Ondine opened Friday, June 4th. The Irish actor credits Joel Schumacher for his acting career. “It all goes back to [Joel]. I wouldn’t have done Phone Booth (2002) without him. I wouldn’t be doing Hart’s War (2002). I probably wouldn’t have done American Outlaws (2001) if he hadn’t picked me out of obscurity. I’ve worked, but not at the level or people I’m working with now if he hadn’t taken a chance on an Irish kid playing a Texan.”
He has twice taken roles meant for Heath Ledger. One of the roles was Alexander (2004), the second role was The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009). Farrell, along with Jude Law and Johnny Depp, played a physically altered form of Ledger’s character as he travels through different worlds.
Week of 5/10
With the release of Robin Hood this coming weekend, here’s some trivia on Mark Strong who plays Sir Godfrey, King John’s henchman. Born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia in Islington, north London, in 1963, to an Italian father and Austrian mother.
He loves being a character actor. On an interview with FirstShowing.net, he says, “The best compliment I was paid was somebody saying, “I knew you were a Jordanian, [but] I thought you were Iranian.” He also likes playing bad guys. When someone asked him, “Are you stuck in the villain roles?” He said, “Absolutely not. Swap the word ‘stuck’ for ‘enjoying.’” I’m enjoying them because they give me leeway to make them all different. He was one of the last two candidates for the role of Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.
His favorite movies are Blade Runner, Spinal Tap, the Coen Brothers’ films, old black-and-white films like Night of the Hunter, His Girl Friday and Ace in the Hole, as well as good documentaries like When We Were Kings and Hoop Dreams.
Week of 4/19
Daniel Day-Lewis is known for his memorable roles in “My Left Foot”, “Unbearable Likeness of Being,” and most recently in “There Will Be Blood.” But the roles that he didn’t end up doing — either by his own rejection or other reasons — are quite interesting.
- Turned down the lead role in “Philadelphia” for In “The Name of the Father”, which then went to Tom Hanks. Both of them were nominated for an Oscar for the roles on both movies, but Hanks took home the statue.
- Didn’t get the part of Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ” because Mel Gibson thought he looked ‘too European’
- Lost out the part of Vincent Vega in “Pulp Fiction” — a part he heavily pursued – because Quentin Tarantino had John Travolta in mind by that point of the casting process
- Turned down the role of Aragorn in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy
- Turned down the lead role in “Solaris” which then went to George Clooney
Week of 3/15
Irish actor Cillian Murphy auditioned for the role of Batman in Batman Begins (2005). The role was eventually given to Christian Bale. But director Christopher Nolan liked Cillian’s audition so much that he gave him a role as Batman’s arch- nemesis Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, who is a developing character in this movie. He greatly admires actor Liam Neeson, who also plays a villain in Batman Begins. He looks at Neeson as a surrogate movie dad. He was planning a career in law until he discovered the world of acting. Murphy is a vegetarian and is fluent in French and Irish.
Week of 2/29
Rufus Sewell was offered a stint in ‘Chicago’ by its producer Barry Weissler but turned it down. He told Broadway.com, “They’re not my cup of tea. I don’t like them. As soon as they start singing, I think, “Oh, f*** off.” There was a period when musicals had a kind of innocence. When you see ‘Guys and Dolls’ or something like that—there was a wonderful, irreverent wit to the rhyme and a cheek and a panache. But from basically the ’60s onwards, I don’t have time for them.”
Apparently people often confuse him with Joaquin Phoenix. In the Broadway.com interview, he’s asked what film he’s most recognized for and he replied, “‘Gladiator,’ unfortunately.”
“Were you in Gladiator?”
“No, Joaquin Phoenix was. But I just take the compliment and move on.”
Week of 2/15
Robert Redford was originally cast in the lead role of ‘The American President,’ but was replaced with Michael Douglas after falling out with director Rob Reiner.
President Bill Clinton and his staff granted permission for the cast and production design team to visit the White House on several occasions. During one of his many visits to the White House, director Rob Reiner spent two consecutive days with Clinton, following him around as he went through his day.
Week of 2/1
Rising star Michael Fassbender (300, Fish Tank, Inglourious Basterds) is was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to an Irish mother and German father. His parents moved to Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland when he was two years old. He plays guitar, piano, and accordion and speaks fluent German.
He is related on his mother’s side to Michael Collins, an Irish revolutionary leader who was was killed during the Irish Civil War in 1922. Incidentally, one of Fassbender’s famous role is in the movie Hunger which chronicles the life of hunger-striker Bobby Sands — who led the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike — in Maze Prison, Northern Ireland.
Week of 1/25
Clive Owen‘s once quoted as saying: “I don’t “do” emotion. Emotions are overrated. I’m more interested in creating a presence.”
On his thoughts about acting: “I got in a cab in Glasgow years ago and this quite surly cabdriver says to me, ‘You’re that actor, aren’t you? You get paid to lie, don’t you? That’s what actors are, aren’t they? Professional bullsh***ers.’ It had quite an effect on me. I f***ing get paid to lie. . . . I walked out of there and I spent a bit of time thinking about it. And then I realized I think it’s the opposite: It’s an opportunity to tell the truth. I try to do that in everything I do. And whether you like a movie I’m in or not, I want you to believe me. More than admire me or think I was brilliantly skillful, I want you to believe me.”
Week of 1/11
Denzel Washington is the son of a Pentecostal preacher from Mount Vernon, New York, Washington, 55, has been an active member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ for nearly 30 years, reads his Bible every morning, and always chooses roles that he can “bend” in the direction of a positive message or a reflection of his deep personal faith. (from CT.com interview). He was at his mother’s beauty parlor, when a woman getting her hair done saw him and told someone to get her a piece of paper and she wrote at the top “Prophecy” and then wrote that Denzel would grow up and one day speak to millions. Denzel kept the bit of paper in his wallet. The woman was known as a prophetess in their church and community. He’s won two Oscars for “Glory” and “Training Day” but was quoted by IMDb as saying: “Man gives you the award but God gives you the reward.”
Week of 1/4
At 45 Russell Crowe is the oldest actor to have played Robin Hood in a movie. Sean Connery was nearly 45 when he played a veteran Robin Hood in “Robin and Marian.” In response to criticisms that he was too old to play Robin, Russell Crowe crash dieted before filming began.
Crowe also originally decided to grow his hair long for the role. He wore wigs in “Body of Lies” and “State of Play” to hide his long hair. But shortly before filming began Crowe decided to cut it short.
Week of 12/21
Sam Worthington never dreamed of being an actor. He was a bricklayer who built houses in his native Australia. Acting came by chance at 19, when he auditioned at Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) — where Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett and many other Aussie actors went — as simply moral support for his then girlfriend. With long dreadlocks and devil-may-care attitude, Worthington ended up getting in but his GF did not. He told Jay Leno that she dumped him a week later. Asked what happened to her now, he nonchalantly replied, “she’s probably back bricklaying, to be honest.
Week of 12/7
Scottish actor James McAvoy, star of Atonement and Wanted, had altruistic ambition when he was growing up. He had wanted to become a priest or a missionary. Apparently 80s ‘bart-packer’ Andrew McCarthy inspired him to act. [Talking about Andrew McCarthy and why he inspired him to be an actor] Yeah, St. Elmo’s Fire (1985) is probably the one that I love him in the most. He was really vulnerable, really open, I think. And he had floppy hair, kind of bad hair, and I had really bad hair for quite a long time when I was a kid.
Week of 11/23
Danish/American Viggo Mortensen is easily the most multi-talented actor working today. He speaks fluent English, Spanish, Danish and French, as well as Swedish and Norwegian reasonably well. He’s also a painter, photographer, poet, jazz musician and an accomplished horseman. He debuted a photography exhibition at the Robert Mann Gallery in NYC back in the Summer of 2000. Per Wikipedia, with part of his earnings from “The Lord of the Rings,” Mortensen founded the Perceval Press publishing house — named for the knight from the legend of King Arthur — to help other artists by publishing works that might not find a home in more traditional publishing venues.
Week of 11/16
GERARD BUTLER quit smoking after playing a cancer victim P.S. I LOVE YOU in early 2008. The former lawyer took the role as a huge hint he had to take better care of himself. He was quoted as saying “I was smoking a huge amount and having real bad premonitions (of death), and then I get this role where the guy dies of cancer. The film made me contemplate death and made me realise I was playing Russian roulette with my health. I’ve since stopped smoking.” Butler previously triumphed over his alcohol addiction, and has been sober for more than a decade now.
Week of 11/1
Academy Award winner Helen Mirren‘s grandfather, Piotr Vasilievich Mironoff, was a Tsarist (White Russian) aristocrat who was in London negotiating an arms deal for World War I when the 1917 Russian Revolution stranded him there. His wife and son (Helen’s father) joined him in London. Despite her Russian birth name and ancestry, she does not speak Russian, but is fluent in French.
Week of 10/19
Russell Crowe apparently turned down the role of Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy since filming the first installment would coincide with Ron Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind.” However, he really loved the idea of filming a movie in his home country, New Zealand, for an extended amount of time. He also initially turned down his role as cop Bud White in “L.A. Confidential” because he wasn’t sure he could convincingly play such a tough character. During the 5+ months of filming, he gave up drinking as author James Ellroy insisted Crowe’s character wasn’t a drinker.
Week of 10/5
In the Sept. issue of TOTAL FILM, director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) talked about the “21 Jump Street” film version he’s writing with actor Jonah Hill. From the Toronto set of his upcoming film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” he told the UK film mag that they had written a cameo for Johnny Depp. To his delight, Depp is apparently interested in the idea when MTV interviewed him about it.
Wright also said that Jonah pitched the popular TV show’s big screen adaptation as “Bad Boys” meets John Hughes.
Week of 9/28
Ridley Scott unwittingly played a part in Michael Caine‘s love life. During his career as a commercial director, he made a Maxwell House coffee commercial that starred a Guyana actress named Shakira. Michael Caine saw the commercial and was so taken by her beauty, he desperately searched for her. He intended on going to Brazil to track her down but it turned she was living in London, England. A friend gave him her phone number, and they have been married 30+ years to this day.
Sir Ridley himself has been casting his girlfriend, Giannina Facio, in all of his films since “Gladiator,” where she plays Maximus’ wife.
Week of 9/14
When asked whether or not he based his accent for “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” on Inigo Montoya in “The Princess Bride,” Ben Barnes replied, “… when I got the audition sides, it said on the bottom, “Please prepare with a Spanish accent,” and I went and rummaged in my DVD collection and went, “I gotta have something with Antonio Banderas in it, surely!” I started watching “Desperado” – he doesn’t talk! He just looks moody. And I was like, “Ah, man, this isn’t gonna do,” so I found, I suddenly thought, “Princess Bride! Inigo Montoya. ‘You killed my father, prepare to die.’” And then, I get on set and I’ve got my first scene with Miraz, my uncle, and I’ve got my sword at his throat and it’s “Why did you kill my father?” and I’m thinking, “This sounds familiar…”
Week of 9/7
Show business runs deep in Christian Bale‘s family. His father David was John Wayne’s double in 1962′s film “Hatari!” and his sister Louise is an actress and award-winning theater director. In fact, when Louise scored a part in a West End production of “Bugsy Malone,” nine-year-old Christian would hang backstage, wishing he was in on the action. And soon he was, scoring himself an agent and a part in a Pac-Man cereal commercial, and enrolling at a Reading theatre group that, for a while, also included a young Kate Winslet.
Week of 8/31
Emily Blunt (‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Sunshine Cleaning’) had a stammer when she was a kid. The relaxation classes her mother took her to didn’t help, until a shrewd teacher helped her reach a turning point when she was 12. She asked young Emily to play a character with a different voice and said, “I really believe in you.” Blunt ended up using a northern accent, and it did the trick, her stammer disappeared.
Week of 8/24
Sam Worthington, the lead actor in ‘Avatar’, was one of the finalists to play James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ before it finally went to Daniel Craig. Goran Visnjc (ER), Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight) and Rupert Friend (Cheri) and Henry Cavill (The Tudors) were also in the running.
Daniel Craig was the last actor considered for the role of “Rorschach” in the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel ‘Watchmen’.
Week of 8/17
Move over Edward Cullen, we’ve got a new vampire in town. Looks like Robert Downey Jr. is in talks to play the role of Lestat, the fictitious 18th century French nobleman turned vampire in a reboot adaptation of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Tom Cruise was the last major actor in that role in Interview with the Vampire. Universal Pictures is the studio behind this project, but it’s not sure who’ll helm the movie. It’s also up in the air which of Rice’s 10 vampire books the movie will be based on.
Week of 8/10
Morgan Freeman is working again with personal friend Clint Eastwood, who helped him land an Oscar nomination in Million Dollar Baby. This time Freeman is playing Nelson Mandela in Invictus (Latin word for ‘unconquered’). It’s based on a true story in the wake of the apartheid movement, when the South African president joined forces with the captain of the rugby team to help unite their country. Matt Damon plays the captain that led the team to victory in 1995 Rugby Union World Cup.
Week of 7/20
Frank McCourt, the author of Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Angela’s Ashes’ died Sunday 7/19 at the age of 78. His most famous book, which was based on his youth living in poverty in Ireland, was made into a critically-acclaimed movie of the same name in 1999. His other memoir ‘Teacher Man’ is said to be made into a feature film by Gerard Butler’s production company ‘Evil Twins.’ No word yet if Gerry will play the then unknown New York high school English teacher.