Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Posts tagged “Actor

R.I.P Dick Miller

dick miller - after darkDick Miller, prolific screen actor and B-Movie legend, best known for his role as Murray Futterman in the 1984 classic horror film Gremlins, has died. He was 90.

With a career spanning more than 60 years, Miller has made hundreds of on screen appearances, beginning in the 1950’s with legendary director and producer Roger Corman. It was then that he starred as Walter Paisley – a character the actor would reprise throughout his career – in the cult classic “A Bucket of Blood,” before going on to land roles on projects such as The ‘Burbs, Fame and The Terminator.

Miller also boasts a long history of high-profile director partnerships, working with the likes of James Cameron, Ernest Dickerson, Martin Scorsese, John Sayles and, perhaps most notably, Joe Dante, who used Miller in almost every project he helmed.

In one of Dante’s earlier films, Piranha, Miller played Buck Gardner, a small-time real estate agent opening up a new resort on Lost River Lake. The only catch? A large school of genetically altered piranha have accidentally been released into the resort’s nearby rivers. Next up was a police chief role in the 1979 film Rock ‘n’ Roll High School before reprising the Walter Paisley mantle as an occult bookshop owner in Dante’s 1981 horror film The Howling.

Other notable appearances include the 1986 cult favorite Night of the Creeps, where he shared the screen with Tom Atkins as a police ammunition’s officer named Walt – he supplies Atkins with some necessary firepower in the face of an alien worm-zombie invasion – and a pawnshop owner in James Cameron’s 1984 hit The Terminator; the same year he appeared in yet another of Dante’s films, Gremlins.

Most recently, Miller reprised the role of Walter Paisley for a final time as a rabbi in Eben McGarr’s horror film Hanukkah.

Miller is survived by his wife Lainie, daughter Barbara and granddaughter Autumn.

joedanteDante called him “one of his most treasured collaborators,” writing, “I ‘grew up’ (kinda) watching Dick Miller in movies from the 50’s on and was thrilled to have him in my first movie for Roger Corman.”


Robin Williams R.I.P.

Robin_WilliamsThe comedian and actor Robin Williams has died at 63, according to police in Marin County, California. A statement from the assistant chief deputy coroner of Marin County announced on Monday that the Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.”

His publicist confirmed the news: “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late, this is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

His wife, Susan Schneider, released a statement saying she was “utterly heartbroken.”

“This morning I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” she said in the statement. “On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laugher he gave to millions.”

Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), Williams went on to establish a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting.

His film career included such acclaimed films as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), Good Will Hunting (1997) and Insomnia (2002), as well as financial successes such as Popeye (1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996) and Happy Feet (2006).

Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, Williams went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting (1997). He also received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards.


John Barrymore

John-Barrymore_Banner_HeaderJohn Sidney Blyth (February 15, 1882 – May 29, 1942), better known as John Barrymore, was an American actor of stage and screen. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III. His success continued with motion pictures in various genres in both the silent and sound eras. Barrymore’s personal life has been the subject of much writing before and since his death in 1942.

John-Barrymore_Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeA member of a multi-generation theatrical dynasty, he was the brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore, and was the paternal grandfather of Drew Barrymore. Barrymore delivered some of the most critically acclaimed performances in theatre and film history and was widely regarded as the screen’s greatest performer during a movie career spanning 25 years as a leading man in more than 60 films.

Barrymore entered films around 1913 with the feature An American Citizen. He or someone using the name Jack Barrymore is given credit for four short films made in 1912 and 1913, but this has not been proven to be John Barrymore. Barrymore was most likely convinced into giving films a try out of economic necessity and the fact that he hated touring a play all over the United States. He could make a couple of movies in the off-season theater months or shoot a film in one part of a day while doing a play in another part. He also may have been goaded into films by his brother Lionel and his uncle Sidney, who had both been successfully making movies for a couple of years. Some of Barrymore’s silent film films included Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), Sherlock Holmes (1922), Beau Brummel (1924), played Captain Ahab in The Sea Beast (1926), and Don Juan (1926).

Poster - Dr_ Jekyll and Mr_ HydeWhen talking pictures arrived, Barrymore’s stage-trained voice added a new dimension to his screen work. He made his talkie debut with a dramatic reading of the big Duke of Gloucester speech from Henry VI, part 3 in Warner Brothers’ musical revue The Show of Shows (“Would they were wasted: marrow, bones and all”), and reprised his Captain Ahab role in Moby Dick (1930). His other leads included Svengali (1931), The Mad Genius (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933) and Twentieth Century (1934). He worked opposite many of the screen’s foremost leading ladies, including Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Carole Lombard.

Barrymore collapsed while appearing on Rudy Vallee’s radio show and died in his hospital room, May 29, 1942. His dying words were “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”

John-Barrymore_W.C.FieldsAccording to Errol Flynn’s memoirs, film director Raoul Walsh “borrowed” Barrymore’s body before burial, and left his corpse propped in a chair for a drunken Flynn to discover when he returned home from The Cock and Bull Bar. This was re-created in the movie W.C. Fields and Me. Other accounts of this classic Hollywood tale substitute actor Peter Lorre in the place of Walsh, but Walsh himself tells the story in Richard Schickel’s 1973 documentary The Men Who Made the Movies. However, Barrymore’s great friend Gene Fowler denied the story, stating that he and his son held vigil over the body at the funeral home until the funeral and burial.

He was buried in East Los Angeles, at Calvary Cemetery, on June 2. Surviving family members in attendance were his brother Lionel and his daughter Diana. Ex wife Elaine also attended. Among his pallbearers were Hollywood Legends W.C. Fields, Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick. Years later, Barrymore’s son John had the body reinterred at Philadelphia’s Mount Vernon Cemetery.


Mila Kunis

Milena “Mila” Markovna Kunis (born August 14, 1983); is an American actress. At the age of seven, she moved from Ukraine to Los Angeles, California, with her family. After being enrolled in acting classes as an after-school activity, she was soon discovered by an agent. She appeared in several television series and commercials, before her first significant role, playing Jackie Burkhart on the television series That 70’s Show, a year later, she was cast as the voice of Meg Griffin on the animated series Family Guy. 

Her breakout film role came in 2008, in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, subsequent films included Max Payne, The Book of Eli, Friends with Benefits, and Lori in Ted. Her performance as Lily in Black Swan gained her worldwide accolades, including receiving the Premio Marcello Mastroianni for Best Young Actor or Actress at the 67th Venice Film Festival, and nominations for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

She will feature in the forthcoming Sam Raimi Wizard of Oz prequel/sequel, Oz: The Great and Powerful.


Tim Roth

Simon Timothy “Tim” Roth (born 14 May 1961) is an English film actor and director. He is best known for his roles in the films Made in Britain, Legend of 1900, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms, Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk and Rob Roy, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his scene-stealing role in the latter.

Roth was born in London, England, the son of Ann, a painter and teacher, and Ernie, a Fleet Street journalist, and painter. Roth’s father was born under the surname “Smith” in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, to a British immigrant family of Irish descent. He changed his surname to “Roth” after World War II “partly through solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust, partly because the British were far from welcome in some of the countries to which his job took him”. As a young man, he wanted to be a sculptor and studied at London’s Camberwell College of Art.

Roth made his acting debut at the age of 21 playing a racist skinhead in the Alan Clarke TV film Made in Britain (1982)In contrast to his Made in Britain role, Roth then played a desperately shy and introverted character in the Mike Leigh film Meantime (1983). In 1984 he co-starred with Terence Stamp and John Hurt in Stephen Frear’s The Hit, in which he played Myron (Tim Roth) a hot-blooded apprentice to John Hurts Braddock, a world weary veteran hit man. The role earned him an “Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer”.

In 1985, he appeared in the television film Murder with Mirrors opposite the legendary Bette Davis and John Mills. With that recognition, he appeared in several other films during the end of the decade. Roth starred in King of the Ghetto which was made by the BBC. This four-part drama was shown in 1986 on national television, based on a novel by Farukh Dhondy. Partly set in Brick Lane, the drama caused a sensation among the public, especially amongst the Bengali community.

In 1989, he had a memorable supporting role as the buffoonish lackey Mitchell in Peter Greenaway’s controversial, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. In 1990, Roth began to enjoy international attention with starring roles as Vincent van Gogh in Robert Altman’s Vincent & Theo and as Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Roth and other young British actors who were becoming established film actors such as Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Paul McGann were dubbed the Brit Pack, a nickname based on the US Brat Pack of the mid-80’s.

Roth impressed director Quentin Tarantino and was cast as Mr. Orange in his 1992 ensemble piece Reservoir Dogs (1992). This film paved the way for more work in Hollywood. In 1994, Tarantino cast him again as a robber in the acclaimed Pulp Fiction. and they worked again in the 1995 film Four Rooms, where Roth played the extremely physically animated role of Ted the Bellhop. Roth was very successful playing viciously evil English nobleman Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy opposite Liam Neeson; for which he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe nomination and won a BAFTA.

In 1996, he went a different way, starring in Woody Allen’s musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You. He also starred as Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900 (or just “1900”) in The Legend of 1900, and in the same year co-starred with Tupac Shakur in the drama Gridlock’d. He made a critically acclaimed debut as a director in 1999 with The War Zone, a bleak and uncompromising look at incest starring Ray Winstone and Tilda Swinton.

In 2001, he portrayed General Thade in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes reboot. Roth was the original choice for the role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series, but he turned it down for the Planet of the Apes job, although he was the best thing in the ‘Apes’ movie, you have to say that it was a bad choice. He was also considered for the part of Hannibal Lecter in the 2001 Ridley Scott film Hannibal before Anthony Hopkins returned to reclaim the role. Roth has more recently appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth and Michael Haneke’s remake of Funny Bones, before starring opposite Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk.

From 2009 to 2011, he starred in a series on Fox called Lie To Me, wherein he played Dr. Cal Lightman, an expert on body language who assists local and federal law organisations in the investigations of crimes. In early 2012, Roth was announced as the President of the Jury for the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.


Ray Winstone – Part 1

Raymond Andrew “Ray” Winstone (born 19 February 1957) is an English film and television actor. He is mostly known for his “tough guy” roles, beginning with that of Carlin in the 1979 film ‘Scum’ and as Will Scarlet in the cult television adventure series ‘Robin of Sherwood’. He has also become well known as a voice actor. More recently he has branched out into film production. His film résumé includes ‘Cold Mountain’, ‘Nil By Mouth’, ‘King Arthur’,  ‘The Proposition’, ‘The Departed’, ‘Beowulf’, ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ and ‘Edge of Darkness’. 

Winstone was born in Hackney Hospital, London, the family moved via Plaistow to Enfield when he was seven, and grew up on a council estate just off the A10. Winstone had an early affinity for acting; his father would take him to the cinema every Wednesday afternoon. Later, he would witness Albert Finney in ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ and the bug would bite: “I thought ‘I could be that geezer'” he said later. Other major influences included John Wayne, James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. 

Winstone was also a fan of boxing. At the age of 12, Winstone joined the famous Repton Amateur Boxing Club and, over the next 10 years, won 80 out of 88 bouts. At welterweight, he was London schoolboy champion on three occasions, fighting twice for England. The experience gave him a perspective on his later career: “If you can get in a ring with 2,000 people watching and be smacked around by another guy, then walking onstage isn’t hard.”

One of his first TV appearances came in the 1976 “Loving Arms” episode of the popular police series ‘The Sweeney’ where he was credited as “Raymond Winstone” and played a minor part as an unnamed young thug.

He went up to the BBC, where his schoolmates were involved in an audition, and got one of his own by flirting with the secretary. The audition was for one of the most notorious plays in history – Alan Clarke’s ‘Scum’ – and, because Clarke liked Winstone’s cocky, aggressive boxer’s walk, he got the part, even though it had been written for a Glaswegian. The play, written by Roy Minton and directed by Clarke, was a brutal depiction of a young offenders institution. Winstone was cast in the leading role of Carlin, a young offender who struggles against both his captors and his fellow cons in order to become the “Daddy” of the institution. Hard hitting and often violent (particularly during the infamous “billiards” scene in which Carlin uses two billiard balls stuffed in a sock in order to beat one of his fellow inmates over the head) the play was judged unsuitable for broadcast by the BBC, and was not finally shown until 1991. The banned television play was entirely re-filmed in 1979 for cinematic release with many of the original actors playing the same roles. In a recent director’s commentary for the Scum DVD, Winstone cites Clarke as a major influence on his career, and laments the director’s death in 1990 from cancer.

Winstone’s role in Scum seems to have set a mould for many of his other parts; he is frequently cast as a tough or violent man. He has also been cast against type, however, in films in which he reveals a softer side. He had a comedic part in ‘Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence’, and played the romantic lead in ‘Fanny and Elvis’. His favourite role was in the television biopic on the life of England’s most notorious monarch, King Henry VIII.  Helena Bonham Carter co-starred as Henry’s most well-known queen, Anne Boyleyn; Emilia Fox played Jane Seymour, the stellar cast was rounded out by Charles Dance, Emily Blunt, David Suchet, Joss Ackland and Sean Bean. 

After a short run in the TV series ‘Fox’, and a role in ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains’ (alongside Diane Lane, Laura Dern and a host of real-life punks like Fee Waybill, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Paul Simonon.). It was at this time that Winstone got another big break, being cast as Will Scarlet in ‘Robin of Sherwood’. He proved immensely popular and enjoyed the role, considering Scarlet to be “the first football hooligan”

During this period, he was increasingly drawn to the theatre, playing in Hinkemannin 1988, Some Voices in 1994 and Dealer’s Choice and Pale Horse the following year.