One of a series of actors’ reminiscences edited by Jack Tewkesbury.
My father Charlie Chaplin was used to the Southern California climate and hated the cold. He’d say, “It’s so cold here in Switzerland you have put food in the refrigerator to warm it up.” Once he and I went to an exhibition by Matisse in Paris. He was looking at the extraordinary paintings, and suddenly he got very depressed and said, “I used to be famous, too. ” Then he looked around and added, “I used to be well known.”
Little by little, people started looking at him. They said, “Charles,” and they came up and asked for his autograph and then he started saying, “Yes, he’s not a bad painter.”
He was very, very insecure, always. There’s that wonderful story about Flaubert. Apparently when he was dying he said, “I’m dying and that bitch Madame Bovary is going to live forever.” I suppose my father thought, “Here am I, getting old, and that little tramp is still doing gymnastics.”
My father was anti-American, but he didn’t try to impose his ideas on us, certainly not his political ideas or religious ones. He was an atheist, yet he sent me to Catholic school. He gave us all a choice. He was bitter about America although he wouldn’t admit it. He kept saying, “I don’t want to go back there,” but I’m sure he did. Anyhow, no way he could. He had a British passport. America, at that time, would not issue him a visa.
We were going to Japan once, and when the plane came down at Anchorage and everyone had to get off , he refused. “I’m staying right here.” And he sat down and wouldn’t get off the plane. Finally they carried him off and he said, “Oh well, it will be nice to have an American cup of coffee,” which seemed strange.
Nobody longs for an American cup of coffee!Read More »
HFPA members had a busy time on a recent trip to London, visiting Pinewood Studios where they went on the set of Les Miserables and the following day taking a two-hour coach trip to Arundel in Sussex. There, Universal Studios had taken over the ancient Arundel Castle for TV, radio and print interviews with the cast of Snow White and the Huntsman. The restored medieval castle, which has been in the family of the Duke of Norfolk for more than 400 years, was for three days the base for Charlize Theron, who plays the evil Queen, Kristen Stewart (left, Snow White) and Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman) to talk about themselves and the movie. Guests at a reception at Claridges the same evening included HFPA members, Universal head Ron Meyer, studio chairman Adam Fogelson, theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh and Hugh Jackman, who stars in Les Miserables.Read More »
One of a series of actors’ reminiscences researched by Jack Tewkesbury
Look, I have no problem with twenty-five-year-old virgins. In another twenty-five years they’ll be fifty. Think of all the fun they’ve missed.
We have a very puritanical view of sex in this country. It’s time to evolve, to embrace sex as a cool thing. But you’re right. For a long time I wasn’t able to sustain a relationship with a woman, I was never really capable of viewing a woman as anything but sexual. If I didn’t look at her in a sexual way, my interest was nil.
The modern American male is socialized into his need for coquest. I was into having as many physical experiences as I could, but I changed. It started when I hired this lady as an assistant. We worked together for two-and-a-half years before anything romantic happened, which allowed us to become really, really good friends first.
Through her I was able to establish a great relationship with a woman that was completely non-sexual. It’s tough, really. Men aren’t programmed to have friendships with women. Even with men, it’s limited. Very often sports is our common interest. In every other area, we are competitive.
We compete for money, we compete for women. Women are better at friendship and relationship.
When I was young, I was kind of shy around women, so I thought I’d make up for it by becoming a total hedonist. I spent my first five years, while on Cheers, accomplishing that, but then I started to focus on my spirituality, so it’s been a process of balancing my physical, emotional, and spiritual lives.
I was kind of a troubled child. I have an enormous shadow, the so-called dark stuff in your life that you suppress or repress. People tell you you are bad from the time you are very young. You put in this bag and you carry it along with you. It gets bigger and bigger , it keeps growing. I have to deal with my shadow because it’s enormous. But it’s a good thing for me to confront my shadow.
Longtime HFPA member and former president Philip Berk (right with Jane Fonda) has been invited by Sight and Sound magazine to join a prestigious panel to decide the Ten Greatest Films of All Time.
Phil, currently chairman of the HFPA board of directors, will be one of a distinguished group of world critics, programmers, academics and curators who every ten years take part in the poll. A major worldwide endeavour, the aim is to help remind people of film’s rich history and to refine what is meant by the best of cinema.
Those chosen to take part are being asked to select ten films in no particular order and one vote will be allotted to each film.
Sight and Sound explains: “As for what we mean by ‘Greatest’, we leave that open to your interpretation. You might choose the ten films you feel are most important to film history, or the ten that represent the aesthetic pinnacles of achievement, or indeed the ten films that have had the biggest impact on your own view of cinema.”
Throughout the world the magazine is known for the prestigious critics’ Top Ten Films poll that it conducts every ten years. This first took place in 1952, the only time the poll wasn’t won by Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane —– Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves took the honours that year – and was most recently done in 2002, when Kane beat Hitchcock’s Vertigo by two vote.Read More »
The Honorable Supreme Leader of Wadiya, Shabazz Aladeen, met with members of the HFPA recently while promoting Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest – and most personal – film, The Dictator.
Surrounded by two members of his Virgin Guards security team, the Admiral General praised the HFPA for having so many members representing countries that were once ruled by dictators: “Germany, the Philippines, Argentina … you are a true inspiration. It doesn’t get any better than this!” according to the Supreme Leader.
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 »