One of a series of actors’ reminiscences researched by Jack Tewkesbury
I overheard a producer say, “If you kicked an En – glishman in the heart, you’d break your toes.”
Oh, we work aplenty. After all, we have a much stronger tradition of theatre. Actors are schooled in England. We are technically trained. Not America’s subjective approach to acting.
But it’s interesting that British actors are usually cast as heavies in American movies. Maybe it’s some kind of cultural archetype in America that believes the British are not to be trusted.
Robert Duvall once said to Glenn Close — Jeremy Irons told me this when he and Glenn were doing The Real Thing on Broadway –Duval took her to lunch, and he said to her about Jeremy Irons, “How can you trust a guy that talks like that?” So, deep in the American consciousness, we’re not to be trusted. Maybe it goes back to the American Revolution.
A lot of directors are bullies. No matter. I need a good director because I can’t be on my own, either on stage or in film. In the past I have led the fray against directors because I didn’t always respect them, but do now more than ever.
Actors can be infuriating people with big egos, but a really good director is somebody who will, like Jonathan Demme, let you express character through your psychology and body. If he knows his stuff, he will concentrate on guiding the speed of the scene, the rhythm, the pace.
In the theatre, the director has to have the whole plan in his head. He’s got fifteen actors on stage, all those egos bumping about. He’s got to sort them out. If an actor doesn’t agree, a sensible director will negotiate.
The worst directors are the ones who shout and scream. They’re a nightmare. The late John Dexter, who directed Equus and M. Butterfly, was one. John was a very tough, brutal director. He could be savage.
After Equus I vowed I’d never work with him again, but as the years passed I thought, I’ve got to work with this guy again to get the record straight.
So I worked with him on M.Butterfly, and it was a pleasure, not because John had changed but because I had. We had a lot of fun, and he was very nice. I put up with his bullying because he knew what he was doing.
—Jack TewkesburyRead More »
HFPA members attending the annual theater owners and exhibitors’ convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week were treated to good news about the health of the movie industry and some ground breaking previews of films to come like Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.
According to John Fithian, President and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) world wide box office was up 3% in 2011 and 6% in the last twelve months domestically. Former senator and current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America Chris Dodd stated that the first quarter 2012 was up 17% compared to last year.
The studios brought out their product reels and stars to reassure the attending delegates from 62 countries that the trend will continue: At the Paramount Pictures opening event Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who will be seen next in G.I. Joe 2 was called “franchise viagra” and presented with the Action Star of the Decade award. Tom Cruise introduced a clip from his latest film One Shot and Sacha Baron Cohen (below left with Jeffrey Katzenberg) entertained the audience with his appearance in full costume as “The Dictator”.
John Lasseter, head of Disney Animation and Pixar, also dressed up: For his introduction of Pixar’s Scottish themed “Brave” he entered the stage in a kilt accompanied by a group of bagpipers.
Peter Jackson’s crisp ten minute preview of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” which was projected with 48 frames per second as opposed to the usual 24 frames prompted much discussion as did Twentieth Century Fox’s announcement that the studio would stop delivering 35mm prints to theaters within the next two years. Fox also showed new footage of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” and stunned the audience with a first look at Ang Lee’s 3D offering “Life of Pi”, based on the best selling novel by Yann Martel about an Indian boy who ends up shipwrecked with a Bengal tiger.
Warner Bros. brought out their star directors Tim Burton (with Johnny Depp for Dark Shadows) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises) to present clips and Baz Luhrman sent in a first look at his “The Great Gatsby” in 3D. Sony Pictures excited theater owners with previews of their reboots (The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall) and their clip for the next 007 installment Skyfall while Universal Pictures presented Anne Hathaway singing I Dreamed a Dream in a scene from the upcoming musical Les Misérables also starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.
Cinema owner Konrad Schibli from Switzerland was more than satisfied with what he saw: “Film production has advanced another step. The effects look great and the themes are presented in an innovative way. All that is possible, because people are going to the movies again and therefore more money flows back to Hollywood.”
During the Closing Night Gala on Thursday, CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards were presented to:
Sylvester Stallone, Career Achievement Award
Taylor Kitsch, Male Star of Tomorrow
Chloë Grace Moretz, Female Star of Tomorrow
Diego Boneta, Rising Star of 2012
Josh Hutcherson, Breakthrough Performer of the Year
Anna Faris, Comedy Star of the Year
Charlize Theron, Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film
Judd Apatow, Award of Excellence in Filmmaking
Michelle Pfeiffer, Cinema Icon Award
Jennifer Garner, Female Star of the Year
Jeremy Renner, Male Star of the Year
——Marlène von Arx,Read More »
The first in a series of actors’ reminiscences researched by Jack Tewkesbury:
AT FIRST, ACTING WAS ONLY A MENTAL EXERCISE
I was a college intellectual — you know, the kind of a guy who can write in three languages on a restroom wall.
I was a philosophy major in college, which prepares you to do nothing but teach philosophy or write. I had done a couple of plays. I was looking for something that was challenging and would provide me with a variety of experience.
When I first went on stage I was frightened to death, so I was interested in overcoming that fear. Later I became fascinated with the process of working with a group of people. If I had known then how difficalt it was to get a job as an actor, I might have tried something else.
But even then I thought of it as a job you worked on for a finite time, and when you finished that you went on to something else. It seemed an interesting, productive way to live.
I worked as a carpenter only because I was doing the same part over and over again on episodic television. I wanted to begin to control my own career, so I found another way of making money to pay for the food and rent. I wanted to be able to choose from among the parts that were offered me. I never gave up my desire to be an actor.
I’m not the type who hides behind a character. Neither am I a rubbernosed actor. I don’t go for accents or vocal characterizations. I pretty much use myself in my films, but I don’t rewrite the role in terms of myself. I try to play the character.
I never lose sight of the fact that I’m acting. I don’t became so immersed in the part that, if you were to talk to me after the camera stopped rolling, I would still be in character. I’ve never developed anything for myself because many times, when projects are developed with a specific actor in mind, they tend to lean on his supposed strengths and avoid what are thought to be his weaknesses.
I would rather play something written for Dustin Hoffman than what is written for me. I don’t think a character should be written to serve an actor. He should be created both by the screenwritter and the actor to serve the story.
—Jack TewkesburyRead More »
It marked a long and varied career of accomplishments and achievements which were outlined to the audience by his friend of 60 years and fellow HFPA member Noel De Souza.
After attending film school at UCLA in the 1950s, Ahmed Lateef worked as a cameraman for director Roger Corman, became a film editor and went on to direct more than 1,000 commercials, becoming the first Indian to win a coveted Clio award. He was also the first to make a music video, filming the first one in 1966 for Sergio Mendes.
Ahmed Lateef is regarded as a pioneer who paved the way for other Indian filmmakers who followed in his footsteps. He is still a valued member of the HFPA, working for an Indian newspaper and a magazine in Hong Kong and has close ties to the Hawaiian Film Festival, which he visits annually.Read More »
Instead of promoting herself, two-time Golden Globe winner Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, Something’s Gotta Give) deflected all the light and attention to her four-legged companion when she met HFPA members at the Four Seasons to discuss her latest movie, Darling Companion.
“I am in love with my dog. Her name is Emmie, and she’s a cover girl! See?” The actress proudly showed off the cover of the AARP magazine which features her and Emmie. “The love that I feel for this dog – and any other dog that I have had – is unlike any love that I experienced … talk about unconditional. And they don’t talk back!.”
In Darling Companion the actress plays a woman who finds the love, devotion, commitment and courage she needs all wrapped up in a bloodied stray dog who becomes her “darling companion.”Read More »