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Archive for April, 2012

Daniel Day-Lewis – Part 2

In 1992, three years after his Oscar win, The Last of the Mohicans was released. Day-Lewis’s character research for this film was well-publicized; he reportedly underwent rigorous weight training and learned to live off the land and forest where his character lived, camping, hunting, and fishing. He even carried a long rifle at all times during filming in order to remain in character and learned how to skin animals.

He returned to work with Jim Sheridan on In the Name of the Father, in which he played Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who were wrongfully convicted of a bombing carried out by the Provisional IRA. He lost a substantial amount of weight for the part, kept his Northern Irish accent on and off the set for the entire shooting schedule, and spent stretches of time in a prison cell. He also insisted that crew members throw cold water at him and verbally abuse him. The film earned him his second Academy Award nomination, his third BAFTA nomination, and his second Golden Globe nomination.

Day-Lewis returned in 1993, playing Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. In 1996, Day-Lewis starred in a film version of The Crucible, the play by Arthur Miller, again opposite Winona Ryder. Daniel met his wife, Rebecca Miller, while filming “The Crucible”. He followed that with Jim Sheridan’s The Boxer as a former boxer and IRA member recently released from prison. His preparation included training with former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan.

Following The Boxer, Day-Lewis took a leave of absence from acting by going into “semi-retirement” and returning to his old passion of woodworking. He moved to Florence, Italy, where he became intrigued by the craft of shoemaking, eventually apprenticing as a shoemaker. For a time his exact whereabouts and actions were not made publicly known. Day-Lewis has declined to discuss this period of his life, stating that “it was a period of my life that I had a right to without any intervention of that kind.”

After a five-year absence from filming, Day-Lewis returned to act in multiple Academy Award-nominated films such as Gangs of New York, a film directed by Martin Scorsese (with whom he had worked on The Age of Innocence) and produced by Harvey Weinstein. In his role as the villain gang leader “Bill the Butcher”, he starred along with Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Bill’s young protegé. He began his lengthy, self-disciplined process by taking lessons as an apprentice butcher, and while filming, he was never out of character between takes (including keeping his character’s New York accent). His performance in Gangs of New York earned him his third Academy Award nomination and won him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.

After Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis’s wife, director Rebecca Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur Miller), offered him the lead role in her film The Ballad of Jack and Josie, in which he played a dying man with regrets over how his life had evolved and over how he had raised his teenage daughter. During filming he arranged to live separately from his wife in order to achieve the “isolation” needed to focus on his own character’s reality. The film received mixed reviews, and is the only Day-Lewis film I’m yet to see.

In 2007, Day-Lewis appeared in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, titled There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis received the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance (which he dedicated to Heath Ledger, saying that he was inspired by Ledger’s acting and calling the actor’s performance in Brokeback Mountain “unique, perfect”), and a variety of film critics circle awards for the role. In winning the Best Actor Oscar, Day-Lewis joined Marlon Brando and Jack Nicolson as the only Best Actor winners awarded an Oscar in two non-consecutive decades.

In 2009, Day-Lewis starred in Rob Marshall’s musical adaptation Nine as film director Guido Contini. In November 2010, it was announced that Day-Lewis was cast to play Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming biographical film Lincoln. Based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film is scheduled for release in late 2012.


Daniel Day-Lewis – Part 1

Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis (born 29 April 1957) is an English actor. His portrayals of Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989) and Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (2007) won Academy and BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, and Screen Actors Guild as well as Golden Globe Awards for the latter. His role as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in Gangs of New York (2002) earned him the BAFTA Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Sean Penn remarked: “He may very well be the greatest actor ever recorded to the screen.”

Day-Lewis, who grew up in London, is the son of actress Jill Balcon and the Anglo-Irish Poet Laureate,  Cecil Day-Lewis. Despite his training in the classical presentational acting style at the Bristol Old Vic, he is a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. Often, he will remain completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedule of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is known as one of the most selective actors in the film industry, having starred in only five films since 1997, with as many as five years between roles.

In 1968, Day-Lewis’s parents, finding his behaviour to be too wild, sent him to the independent Sevenoaks School in Kent, as a boarder. His disdain for the school grew, and after two years at Sevenoaks, he was transferred to another independent school, Bedales in Petersfield, which his sister attended, and which had a more relaxed and creative ethos. The transfer led to his film debut at the age of 14 in Sunday Bloody Sunday in which he played a vandal in an uncredited role. He described the experience as “heaven”, for getting paid £2 to vandalise expensive cars parked outside his local church.

Leaving Bedales in 1975, his unruly attitude had faded and he needed to make a career choice. Although he had excelled on stage at the National Youth Theatre, he decided to become a cabinet-maker, applying for a five-year apprenticeship. However, due to lack of experience, he was not accepted. He then applied (and was accepted) at the Bristol Old Vic Thetare School, which he attended for three years, eventually performing at the Bristol Old Vic. At one point he played understudy to Pete Postlethwaite, opposite whom he would later play in In the Name of the Father

During the early ’80s, Day-Lewis worked in theatre and television including Frost in May and How Many Miles to Babylon? for the BBC. Eleven years after his film debut, Day-Lewis continued his film career with a small part in Gandhi (1982) as Colin, a street thug who bullies the title character, only to be immediately chastised by his high-strung mother. In late 1982 he had his big theatre break when he took over the lead in Another Country. The following year, he had a supporting role as the conflicted, but ultimately loyal first mate in The Bounty, after which he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Next he played a gay man in an interracial relationship in the film My Beautiful Laundrette. Day-Lewis gained further public notice with A Room with a View (1986), in which he portrayed Cecil Vyse, the proper upper-class fiancé of the main character (played by Helena Bonham Carter).

In 1987, Day-Lewis achieved leading-man status by starring in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, co-starring Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche, as a Czech surgeon whose hyperactive and purely physical sex life is thrown into disarray when he allows himself to become emotionally involved with a woman. During the eight-month shoot he learned Czech and first began to refuse to break character on or off the set for the entire shooting schedule.

Day-Lewis threw his personal version of “method acting” into full throttle in 1989 with his performance as Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot which garnered him numerous awards. He prepared for his role by frequent visits to Sandymount School Clinic in Dublin, where he formed friendships with several people with disabilities, some of whom had no speech. During filming, his eccentricities came to the fore, due to his refusal to break character. Playing a severely paralysed character on screen, off screen Day-Lewis had to be moved around the set in his wheelchair, and crew members would have to lift him over camera and lighting wires, all so that he might gain insight into all aspects of Brown’s life, including the embarrassments. He broke two ribs during filming from assuming a hunched-over position in his wheelchair for so many weeks.

Day-Lewis returned to the stage in 1989 to work with Richard Eyre, in Hamlet at the National Theatre, but collapsed in the middle of a scene where the ghost of Hamlet’s father first appears to his son. He began sobbing uncontrollably and refused to go back on stage; he was replaced by Ian Charleson before a then-unknown Jeremy Northam finished the production’s run. Although the incident was officially attributed to exhaustion, one rumour following the incident was that Day-Lewis had seen the ghost of his own father. He confirmed on the British celebrity chat show Parkinson, that this was true. He has not appeared on stage since.


Harper Lee

Nelle Harper E. Lee (born April 28, 1926) is an American author known for her 1960 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which deals with the issues of racism that were observed by the author as a child in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

Nelle Harper Lee, the youngest of four children of  Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee, was born and raised in Monroeville. Her mother’s maiden name was Finch. Her father, a former newspaper editor and proprietor, was a lawyer who served in the Alabama State Legislature. As a child, Lee was a tomboy, a precocious reader, and best friends with her schoolmate and neighbor, the young Truman Capote. 

While enrolled at Monroe County High School, Lee developed an interest in English literature. After graduating in 1944, she went to the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Lee stood apart from the other students—she could not have cared less about fashion, makeup, or dating. Instead, she focused on her studies and on her writing. Transferring to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Lee was known for being a loner and an individualist. Pursuing her interest in writing, Lee contributed to the school’s newspaper and its humor magazine, the Rammer Jammer, where she eventually became editor.

In her junior year, Lee was accepted into the university’s law school, which allowed students to work on law degrees while still undergraduates. The demands of her law studies forced her to leave her post as editor of the Rammer Jammer. After her first year in the law program, Lee began expressing to her family that writing—not the law—was her true calling. She went to Oxford University in England that summer as an exchange student. Returning to her law studies that fall, Lee dropped out after the first semester. She soon moved to New York City to pursue her hopes to become a writer.

In 1949, a 23-year-old Lee arrived in New York City. She struggled for several years, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines and for the British Overseas Air Corp (BOAC). While in the city, Lee was reunited with old friend Truman Capote, one of the literary rising stars of the time. She also befriended Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Brown and his wife, Joy. Having written several long stories, Harper Lee located an agent in November 1956. The following month at the Browns’ East 50th townhouse, she received a gift of a year’s wages from them with a note: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.” She quit her job and devoted herself to her craft. Within a year, she had a first draft. Working with J. B. Lippincott & Co. editor Tay Hohoff, she completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959. Published July 11, 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate bestseller and won great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize fr Fiction in 1961. It remains a bestseller with more than 30 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in a poll by the Library Journal. 

Despite being Lee’s only published book, it led to her being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States for her contribution to literature in 2007. Lee has also been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees but has always declined to make a speech.

Her other significant literary contribution was assisting her close friend Truman Capote in his research for the book In Cold Blood. If you haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird, you’re not qualified to class yourself as a reader; it’s the best American novel ever.


Dexter – Season 7 Poster


Jordana Brewster

Jordana Brewster (born April 26, 1980) is a Brazilian-American actress. She began her acting career in her late teens, with a 1995 one-episode role in the soap opera All My Children; followed that with the recurring role as Nikki Munson in As the World Turns. She was later cast as Delilah Profitt, one of the main characters in her first feature film, Robert Rodriguez’s 1998 horror sci-fi The Faculty. The film brought her to the attention of a much wider audience, gained critical acclaim and achieved financial success. She also landed a starring role in a 1999 NBC television miniseries entitled The 60s.

Her breakthrough role came in the 2001 high budget car-themed action film The Fast and the Furious, which was a worldwide success. Other film credits include the 2004 action comedy film D.E.B.S., the 2005 independent drama Nearing Grace and the reason for this post, the 2006 horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. In the film, she had the starring role of Chrissie. The Beginning was not well received by critics, however, grossed over $51 million worldwide, becoming a modest hit. For her performance, Brewster was nominated for both “Choice Movie Actress: Horror” and “Choice Movie: Scream” at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards.

She then starred in the 2009 film Fast & Furious, the fourth installment of the, The Fast and the Furious series; and she appeared in the fifth film in the franchise, 2011’s massive hit Fast Five, which gained critical praise, becoming the highest rated entry for Brewster.


Cabin in the Woods – Mondo Art

Cool Mondo Art poster for an Alamo Drafthouse screening of The Cabin in the Woods.


Jet Li 李连杰

Li Lianjie (born April 26, 1963), better known by his stage name Jet Li, is a film actor, film producer, Chinese martial artist, wushu champion, and international star who was born in Beijing.

Li was eight when his talent for wushu was noticed at a summer course at school, and he began his practice there. After three years of intensive training with Wu Bin, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. He went on to win fifteen gold medals and one silver medal in Chinese wushu championships, where, despite his young age, he competed against adults. 

After retiring from Wushu at age 19, he went on to win great acclaim in China as an actor making his debut with the film Shaolin Temple (1982). Li acquired his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce. They likened his career to an aircraft, which likewise “takes-off” as quickly, so they placed the name Jet Li on the movie posters. Soon everybody was calling him by this new name, which was also based on the nickname, “Jet,” given to him as a young student, due to his speed and grace when training with the Beijing Wushu team.

He went on to star in many critically acclaimed martial arts epic films, The Shaolin Temple series (1, 2 and 3), which are considered to be the films which sparked the rebirth of the real Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, China; most notably the Once Upon A Time in China series, in which he portrayed folk hero Wong Fei-hung, and Fist of Legend (Chinese title: Jing Wu Ying Xiong), a remake of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury.

Li’s first role in a Hollywood film was as a villain in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), but his first Hollywood film leading role was in Romeo Must Die (2000). He has gone on to star in many Hollywood action films, including Kiss of the Dragon and Unleashed. In 2002, the epic period martial arts epic film Hero was released in the Chinese market. This film was both a commercial and critical success and became the highest-grossing motion picture in Chinese film history at the time. In 2006, when the martial arts epic Fearless, was released worldwide, Li said that although he will continue to make martial arts films, Fearless is his last wushu epic. In Fearless, he played Huo Yuanjia, the real-life founder of Chin Woo Athletic Association, who reportedly defeated foreign boxers and Japanese martial artists in publicized events at a time when China’s power was seen as eroding. Together with the film Fist of Legend, Li has portrayed both Chen Jun, the student and avenger of Huo Yuanjia (aka Fok Yun Gap), as well as Huo Yuanjia himself.

He co-starred in The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) with the legendary Jackie Chan, as the title character villain in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) opposite Brendan Fraser and The Expendables (2010) with Sylvester Stallone. Li will appear in the sequel later this year, The Expendables 2.