by Jack Tewksbury
For forty years the HFPA has recorded interviews with famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 interviews — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. Below is an excerpt: way back in the early 1990, when an unknown Brad Pitt was starting out in Thelma and Louise, Kalifornia and A River Runs Through It, this is how he described his background, his vocation and his first forays into Hollywood.
“Where I’m from is a million miles away. I call it the Ozarks. A little bit of Huckleberry Finn, with rivers and lakes, trees and places to go get lost. I come from a very stable Christian family. I have a younger brother and younger sister, both married. Dad’s into the outdoors, and had a business. I’m crazy about all of them.
I just went home and spent three weeks there. There’s so much going on in Hollywood, it was good to get home for a while. It’s funny when you’re sitting home in Missouri, you see fame, you see money, you see all these things. They’re definitely an attraction, but when you come out here it turns into something else.
If you’re going to last, you’ve got to love what you’re doing. I’m not saying I despise money, but my dream was not about the fame or the money. It was about those movies I watched sitting by myself in the dark. Seeing films offered me a different way of looking at things. They gave me reasons why people do the things they do. They helped me realize that I could leave Missouri if I wanted to.
After high school I went to college but I got bad grades, and I got it into my head it was time to go, so I left two credits short. Acting wasn’t available there on any level that you could respect, but once I figured out in my head that I could leave, I left two weeks later. Since then, however, they’ve called and asked me to come back.
When I first arrived in L.A. I had a million jobs. I slept the first couple of nights in my car, and I lived six different places the first eight months. I met people where I could kind of crash.
The first week I started doing work as an extra but I also I delivered chickens and refrigerators. I rented a room where I told the landlady, “It’s so small you couldn’t swing a cat.” She replied, “No problem. I don’t allow animals.”
And then, about nine months later, I got my first part in Dallas. Then, episodic television and Movies of the Week until I got Thelma and Louise.
I was in this acting class, and a woman in the class had an audition with an agent. She needed a partner to do a scene. It was one of those classic stories I did the scene with her and ended up with the agent.”
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by Elmar Biebl (text and photos)
A delegation of the HFPA attended the World Premiere of the Starz original series Da Vinci’s Demons April 2nd in Florence, Italy. David S. Goyer, creator and head writer of the series, welcomed an international press corps ”to experience life through the eyes of young Leonardo Da Vinci“.
Part of the schedule included key landmarks of Da Vinci’s early years:
- His birth place (born April 15, 1452) in the picturesque village of Vinci whose Mayor Dario Parrini invited the visitors to imagine Leonardo’s spirit within the ancient stone buildings of his town
- The Museo Leonardino with an impressive collection of models built according to Da Vinci’s visionary , hand-drafted, technical inventions
- Florence, Tuscany’s Capital with the majestic Duomo (Dome) and the power center of the Medici family, the Palazzo Vecchio
- The Hotel San Michele in the hills of Fiesole with a panoramic view of Florence.
In this Michelangelo-designed former monastery the journalists met with the main characters of the cast: Tom Riley (title role), Laura Haddock, Lara Pulver and Blake Ritson. David S. Goyer pointed out that the pilot was shot in Wales and has already been sold to 120 territories. Goyer, known as the co-writer of The Dark Knight trilogy, added: “The series is not a documentary about the original Rennaissance Man. The series is meant to be an entertaining historical fantasy paying tribute to the legends and myths of the man with one of the most recognizable names on this planet“.
HFPA President Aida Takla-O’Reilly thanked the organizers for their hospitality and efforts to introduce the media representatives firsthand “to the fascinating world of one of the greatest geniuses in world history“.
Da Vinci’s Demons premieres in the US on April 12.Read More »
by Jack Tewksbury
For forty years the HFPA has recorded interviews with famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 interviews — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. Below is an excerpt: in this anthology of quotes from the late 1980′s, master filmmaker John Huston reflects on his life and the craft of directing.
“I was born in Nevada, Missouri. My grandfather won the town in a poker game.
Walter Huston, my father, was an actor who traveled the West with a theatre troupe. For a brief period, he did a vaudeville act with a chicken that danced on one leg. Times got hard. Other vaudevillians said Walter ate the chicken. He said that was a bold lie! He ate only the leg the chicken didn’t dance on.
My mother and I traveled the West with him. I got a taste for colorful people. Making a movie, I like casting best. No question , my films are successful because of my casting. I choose charismatic actors with the ability to play a certain role.
I directed Marilyn Monroe in her first movie, Asphalt Jungle, and last, The Misfits. She was the embodiment of the characters she played. I give artists as much freedom and encouragement as I can to be themselves.
Very often, as in Prizzi’s Honor, I get the actors together and say, “Look, work this scene out between yourselves.” I’d send the crew away and tell the actors, “Send for me when you’re ready.” Half or three quarters of an hour later they would have put a scene together. Usually it was ideal, and I wouldn’t have to do any directing at all. That is what being a director is knowing when not to direct. Someone asked me a question about having conflicts on the set. You don’t have conflicts with an actor. You get as much out of him as you can through encouragement.You give him heart and boldness and freedom to exercise his artistry.
Jack Nicolson has the greatest virtuosity of any actor in the business. He is not necessarily the greatest. De Niro is. There was never a better actor than De Niro. I’m often asked, “Why haven’t we got actors like Bogart and Cooper today?” Well, Bogart and Cooper weren’t like anyone who preceded them. But the very nature of a star is that he isn’t like any other star. We have extraordinary actors today.
The Nineteen-Thirties and Forties male stars were unique because each was a defined personality, supported over and over again by screenplays written specifically for them. Their voices personified them. Each one not only sounded different from the other, but no one else on the planet had their accents and manner of speech. Even some of the women, particularly Hepburn and Davis.
Again, we have extraordinary actors today, but not personalities. Well, Nicholson.”Read More »
For forty years the HFPA has recorded interviews with famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 interviews — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. Below is an excerpt: in 1992, on the set of Honeymoon in Vegas, two fiery individuals — Nicolas Cage and James Caan – met each other’s match. Cage told us what happened and reflected on the mixed blessings of being a member of the Coppola clan.
“Acting with Jimmy is formidable. He’s very unpredictable, and has a totally different approach than I have. He likes to be intentionally unprepared, so that things happen accidentally. I like to have an idea of where I’m going and mix it up with a little spontaneity. He would constantly try to get some sort of shock out of me.
In one scene, for example, a poker game, out of camera range he surprised me by pulling a switchblade. Now, if I were nineteen and hadn’t been doing this for eleven years, it might have been helpful, but I didn’t need that. I can get there on my own, in my own time. It’s what I get paid for. So I said, “Jimmy, that’s great. Thanks, but you know, it’s all right. You don’t need to pull a switchblade out on me. Our approaches are different, that’s all.” After I’d say my lines, he’d a stop and say, “Nicolas, if you ever come unprepared again, we’re all going to go home and forget about work.” But when I look at the movie, I’d have to say the balance is pretty good.
I have been acting since I was sixteen. At that age people can say things that aren’t very nice. I just decided I didn’t need the pressure so I changed my name from Coppola to Cage. Other young actors, I suppose, felt that I couldn’t act because I was related to such a powerful director. I had a lot of proving to do. I had to feel I was my own man, but I was very young. I would walk into casting offices, and they wanted to know what Francis was doing. I was prepared for my audition, but all they wanted to do was talk about my uncle.
After I changed my name, the first movie I auditioned for was Valley Girl, and I got the part. And I didn’t have to talk about him. At the time I really needed to do things apart from family, to prove I was an entity unto myself and not just part of the Coppola dynasty.”
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by Jack Tewksbury
For forty years the HFPA has recorded interviews with famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 interviews — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. Below is an excerpt: in 1989, promoting the Danny De Vito-directed War of the Roses, Michael Douglas reflected on the never ending conflict between women and men.
“I think it’s very appropriate that this movie War Of The Roses ends the 1980′s. The decade has been about yuppie hard work and material values. If you spend that much time working, and very little time on a relationship, what do you expect? That is why we have so many divorces.
Marriage is wonderful, when it works, but too many people were sold a bill of goods about its dreamlike qualities. I totally support the feminist Movement, but I think women created a monster. I’ve seen working women spread themselves very thin, and when they’re not happy they blame their husbands. Now in the 1990′s we begin to come full circle. There’s got to be a balance, a rekindling of love.
A friend of mine told me recently, “They’re smarter than we are, and they don’t play fair.” After twenty years of the Feminist Movement, I hope we’ll end up kinder to each other. I hope women will be nicer to guys and their husbands.
We tend to be more polite to strangers than we are to the person closest to us. One of the best lines in the film is, “A civilized divorce is a contradiction in terms.”"Read More »
by Elmar Biebl
Marlon Brando didn’t show up to collect his second Best Actor Oscar in 1972 for The Godfather, sending an actress in his stead to decline as a protest to Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans.
However, back in 1954 Brando was keen to win the award, after being skunked three previous times. His losing streak began in 1951 when his Streetcar Named Desire castmates (Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden, Kim Hunter) prevailed in the other three acting categories but Brando was bested by Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen). The following year, he lost his bid for Viva Zapata! to Gary Cooper (High Noon) while in 1953 his nod for Julius Caesar was edged out by William Holden (Stalag 17).
Brando had been surly and uncooperative while on the derby track those three times. So he switched strategies. First up was the Golden Globes on Feb. 24. As the LA Times reported, “Unusual was the fact that Brando appeared to accept his award.” The Mirror-News added, “Marlon Brando showed up a the banquet wearing impeccably tailored dinner clothes and a charming smile. In fact, he was so downright human that one old hand cracked, ‘What happened to all his false reserve?’”
Brando also won the World Film Favorite award, which was decided by a poll of film fans in 40 nations.
Both of these awards are up for sale this month at Heritage Auctions. Also on offer is the draft of his rejection speech from the 1972 Oscars.
However, Brando’s estate is precluded from selling the Oscar he won for On the Waterfront as all winners since 1950 are required to sign an agreement that they will offer the academy right of first refusal.Read More »
HFPA members Ruben and Janet Nepales have been featured in a front page story of the March 11 2013 issue of the Los Angeles Downtown News. Ruben and Janet write for the two most important — and competing– newspapers in the Philippines, the number one Philippine Daily Inquirer (Ruben) and the runner-up Manila Bulletin (Janet), and for five years have been residents of Downtown Los Angeles. As an extra treat, the couple was photographed by the legendary Gary Leonard, who has been taking pictures of LA’s denizens for over 30 years. “ I got to say ‘Take my picture, Gary Leonard’”, says Ruben.Read More »
In the theme of Nordic Films, Finnish HFPA members Kirpi Uimonen and Erkki Kanto, together with HFPA’s Vice President Jorge Camara, attended the 38th Guadalajara International Film Festival in Mexico. Several Finnish filmmakers and film industry representatives were also attending. Introducing the Annual Golden Globe Awards to the Finnish film industry, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association arranged a special reception to the attending filmmakers from Finland.
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by Jack Tewksbury
For forty years the HFPA has recorded interviews with famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 interviews — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. Below is an excerpt: in the late 1990s, with several films coming out (Donnie Brasco, The Devil’s Advocate, The Insider) and a very successful run as Richard II on Brodway, Al Pacino looks back into the foundation of his work as an actor– how a character is born.
“Years ago, as an unemployed actor, I went for a Santa Claus job at Macys on 34 th. Street in New York City. I told them I had worked as Santa two Christmases in a row at the largest department store in Brooklyn. The Santa interviewer said, “That’s fine for an off-Broadway store, but we want Broadway experience.”
When I was younger, I was more or less in character all the time, but you learn as you grow older. You still stay in a general state throughout the day, although at certain moments it’s not quite as intense. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if the scene calls for you to be cranky, you’re cranky all day. Sometimes you go in the opposite way, but still in character. You develop a way of getting in and out of a role.
You need an escape so you learn to keep yourself and the part you’re playing separate. I once played a lawyer in And Justice For All. Since that time I’ve been involved with courts, going over contracts. I can remember someone talking about a problem, and I asked them to hand me the contract, just out of reflex, but I don’t think that happens much. Even after Richard III closed, around eight o’clock I’d find myself walking with a limp.
The first day of Dog Day Afternoon I wasn’t happy. I told the producer we might have to do those scenes again. I don’t feel I had the character down, I stayed up all night with the script and in the morning I had it from that day on.
With a real character, you take the actual person and mimic them subliminally, sometimes consciously. But then your imagination takes over. It’s like a painter. You don’t actually paint what’s there but how it affects you. Invariably it becomes your own.
With fictional characters I don’t want to sound like I’m some authority on the subject, but you gather all these things up, they stay in the back of your head, and then come out. But ultimately I approach every part as though I don’t know anything about acting.
I try to maintain that it’s all new. Hopefully the experience of thirty years comes into play. The rigors of the stage, doing things job after job, night after night enable you to develop a way of coping with different roles.”
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by Jack Tewksbury
For forty years the HFPA has recorded interviews with famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 interviews — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. Below is an excerpt: Nicole Kidman, some 20 years ago, married to Tom Cruise and taking her first steps into the Hollywood jungle, firmly establishes her individual power on both the personal and professional arenas.
“Nonsense – I didn’t get any movie part because of Tom (Cruise). There are a lot of stars around with girlfriends who are actresses. These women aren’t working. And many of these stars are also powerful.
I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but it irritates me. You do not get a part because of personal relationship. You may get into the audition, but unless you come up with the goods they’re not going to use you. The studios have millions of dollars riding on these movies. They’re not going to put Nicole in a movie just to please Tom!
I really don’t want to talk about Tom. I prefer to keep this about me, even though he’s a great guy, and the reason is that I’m very honest. If someone askes me a question, I usually answer it. I’m willing to talk about my past because I don’t have anything to hide.
My work also is an open book. But to protect our relationship, our love, Tom’s and mine, I’m not going to talk about all the little things we do together, what we do, when we go to bed, what we do when we go out. That’s our business, and nobody else’s.
I would never give up acting in favor of motherhood. That doesn’t mean I would deny my children anything, but there is a new generation of actors who are proving that you can have a family and still do what you want to do.
There are ten actresses at the moment who are pregnant, and no one’s using that as an excuse to give up her career. I think combining both helps one become a better person.
I used to have this thing about having to suffer as a person in order to be a good actor. You had to go through all that angst. But seeing people like Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, they’re all happily married, they all have children, they all have secure family lives and they all do brilliant work . “Read More »