Hal Ashby (September 2, 1929 – December 27, 1988) was an American film director and film editor. Born William Hal Ashby in Ogden, Utah, the son of a dairy owner father, Ashby grew up in a Mormon household and had a tumultuous childhood which included the divorce of his parents, his father’s suicide and his dropping out of high school. Ashby was married and divorced by the time he was 19.
As Ashby was entering adult life, he moved from Utah to California where he quickly became an assistant film editor. His big break occurred in 1967 when he won the Academy Award for Film Editing for In the Heat of the Night. Ashby has often stated that film editing provided him with the best film school background outside of traditional university study and he carried the techniques learned as an editor with him when he began directing.
At the urging of its producer, Norman Jewison, Ashby directed his first film, The Landlord, in 1970. While he was of the pre-war generation, the filmmaker quickly embraced the hippie lifestyle, adopting vegetarianism and growing his hair long before it became de rigueur amongst the principals of the Hollywood Renaissance.
Over the next 16 years, Ashby directed several acclaimed and popular films, including the off-beat romance Harold and Maude; the incredible The Last Detail starring Jack Nicholson, followed by Ashby’s greatest commercial success, the Warren Beatty vehicle Shampoo, although the director effectively ceded control of the production over to his star. Bound for Glory, a muted biography of Woody Guthrie starring David Carradine, was the first film to utilize the Steadicam.
Aside from Shampoo, Ashby’s most commercially successful film was the Vietnam War drama Coming Home. Starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight, both in Academy Award-winning performances, it was for this film that Ashby earned his only Best Director nomination from the Academy for his work. As Voight had reportedly been difficult and uncooperative during production, many feel that it was Ashby’s skillful editing of a particularly melodramatic scene which earned him the nomination. Arriving in the post-Jaws and Star Wars era, from a production standpoint Coming Home was one of the last films to encapsulate the ethos of the New Hollywood era, earning nearly $15 million dollars in returns and rentals on a $3 million budget.
Because of his critical and (relative) commercial success, shortly after the success of Coming Home, Ashby was able to form a production company under the auspices of Lorimar. After Being There (his last film to achieve widespread attention), Ashby became notoriously reclusive and eccentric, retreating to his spartan beachfront abode in Malibu.
The productions of Second-hand Hearts and Lookin’ to Get Out were plagued by Ashby’s increasingly erratic behavior, such as pacifying former girlfriends by hiring them to edit Lookin’ to Get Out. Studio executives grew less tolerant of his increasingly perfectionist editing techniques. Initially set to helm Tootsie after two years of laborious negotiations, reports of these bizarre tendencies resulted in his dismissal shortly before production commenced.
Shortly thereafter, Ashby, a longtime Rolling Stones fan, accompanied the group on their 1981 American tour, in the process filming the documentary Let’s Spend the Night Together. The occupational hazards of the road were too much for Ashby, who overdosed before a show in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the film was eventually completed, it had limited theatrical release.
The Slugger’s Wife, with a screenplay penned by Neil Simon, continued the losing streak. Ostensibly a commercially-minded romantic comedy, Simon was reportedly horrified when he viewed Ashby’s rough cut of the first reel, sequenced as an impressionistic mood piece with the first half hour featuring minimal dialogue. Remaining defiant in his squabbles with producers and Simon, Ashby was eventually fired in the final stages of production; the completed film was a critical and commercial failure. 8 Million Ways to Die, written by Oliver Stone, fared similarly at the box office; by this juncture Ashby’s post-production antics were considered to be such a liability that he was fired by the production company on the final day of principal photography.
Attempting to turn a corner in his declining career, Ashby stopped using drugs, trimmed his hair and beard, and began to frequent Hollywood parties wearing a navy blue blazer so as to suggest that he was once again “respectable”. Despite these efforts, however, word of his unreliable reputation had spread throughout the entertainment industry and he could only find work as a television director, helming the pilots for Beverly Hills Buntz and Jake’s Journey. The latter never came to fruition because of the creators’ ailing health.
Longtime friend Warren Beatty advised Ashby to seek medical care after he complained of various medical problems, including undiagnosed phlebitis; he was soon diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that rapidly spread to his lungs, colon and liver. A few of Ashby’s friends grew incensed when his girlfriend Grif Griffis, who had been by his side day in and day out, insisted upon homeopathic treatments after all medical treatments had failed, and refused to let them see him. Ashby died on December 27, 1988 at his home in Malibu, California.
Anjelica Huston (born July 8, 1951) is an American actress. Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in 1985’s Prizzi’s Honor, joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She later was nominated in 1989 and 1990 for her acting in Enemies, A Love Story and The Grifters respectively. Among her roles, she starred as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), receiving Golden Globe nominations for both. Huston also played the Grand High Witch in the children’s movie The Witches in 1990 and is, more recently, known for her frequent collaborations with director Wes Anderson.
Anjelica Huston was born in Santa Monica, California. Huston spent most of her childhood in Ireland and England. She grew up in Saint Clerans House near Craughwell, County Galway. In 1969, she began taking a few small roles in her father’s movies. In that same year, her mother, who was 39 years old, died in a car accident, and Huston relocated to the US, where she modeled for several years. While she modeled, she worked with photographers such as Richard Avedon and Bob Richardson.
Deciding to focus more on movies, in the early 1980s she seriously studied acting. Her first notable role was in Bob Rafelson’s remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981). Later, her father cast her as the calculating, imperious Maerose, daughter of a Mafia don whose love is scorned by a hit man (Jack Nicholson) in the film adaptation of Richard Condon’s Mafia-satire novel Prizzis Honor (1985). Huston won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, making her the first person in Academy Award history to win an Oscar when a parent and a grandparent had also won one.
Huston earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of an iron-willed con artist in Stephen Frears’ The Grifters (1990). That same year she starred in Nic Roeg’s The Witches.She also starred as the lead in her father’s final directorial film, The Dead (1987), an adaptation of a James Joyce story.
She was then cast as Morticia Addams, in the hugely successful 1991 movie adaptation of The Addams Family. In 1993, she reprised the role for the sequel Addams Family Values. Anjelica also starred in The Crossing Guard (1995) with Jack Nicolson. She featured in three highly lauded Wes Anderson films, The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), and in 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited. She voiced the role of Queen Clarion in the Disney Fairies film series starring Tinkerbell. More recently she was awesome in the film adaptation of Choke (2008), from the hilariously twisted novel by Chuck Palahniuk. On January 22, 2010, Anjelica was honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Huston has recently expanded her horizons, following in her father’s footsteps in the director’s chair. Her first directorial credit was Bastard Out of Carolina (1996), followed by Agnes Browne (1999), in which she both directed and starred, and then Riding the Bus with My Sister (2005). Huston is currently part of the NBC television series, Smash, portraying Broadway producer Eileen Rand.
Jan Tomáš Forman (born February 18, 1932), better known as Miloš Forman is a Czech-American director, screenwriter, professor, and an emigrant from Czechoslovakia. Two of his films, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘Amadeus’, are among the most celebrated in the history of film, both gaining him the Academy Award for Best Director. He was also nominated for the same award for ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’. He has also won Golden Globe, Cannes, Berlinale, BAFTA, Cesar, David di Donatello, European Film Academy, and Czech Lion awards.
Forman was born in Caslav, Czechoslovakia (present-day Czech Republic), the son of Anna, who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. His parents were Protestants. During the Nazi occupation a member of the anti-Nazi Underground named Forman’s father as a member of the Underground while being interrogated by the Gestapo. His father was arrested for distributing banned books and died in Buchenwald in 1944. His mother died in Auschwitz in 1943. Forman has stated that he did not fully understand what had happened to his parents until he saw footage of the concentration camps when he was 16.
After the war, Forman attended King George College public school in the spa town Podebrady, where his fellow students included Vaclav Havel, and Ivan Passer and Jerzy Skolimowski. He later studied screenwriting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Forman’s first important achievement is the documentary ‘Audition’ whose subject was competing singers. He directed several Czech comedies in Czechoslovakia. However, during the Prague Spring and the ensuing 1968 invasion, he was in Paris negotiating the production of his first American film. His employer, a Czech studio, fired him, claiming that he had been out of the country illegally. He moved to New York, where he later became a professor of film at Columbia University and co-chair of Columbia’s film department.
His debut feature, ‘Loves of a Blonde’ is one of best–known movies of Czechoslovak New Wave and has been rewarded on the Venice and Locarno film festivals. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967; as was his next film, ‘The Fireman’s Ball’, Forman’s first colour film.
The first movie Forman realized in United States, Taking Off was rewarded at Cannes Film Festival. However, his next film is one of the greatest film’s of all time, and the one for which he will always be remembered, the adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. The film won five Oscars, winning (as one of only three in history, (with It Happened One night and The Silence of the Lambs) in the five most important categories: Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, which firmly established Forman’s reputation.
The success of One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest allowed Forman to direct the long-planned film ‘Hair’ a rock opera in 1979, based on the Broadway musical.
Forman’s next important achievement was the adaption of Peter Schaffer’s ‘Amadeus’ in 1984—retelling the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The film starred Tom Hulce and (for this role rewarded Oscar) F. Murray Abraham. This brought him his second Oscar for Best Director and numerous other awards. The movie won eight Oscars, including Best Picture. Forman and Shaffer call their movie fantasy inspired life and magical death of Mozart.
‘Valmont’, Forman’s adaptation of the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses had its premiere on November 17, 1989. Another film adaptation by Stephen Frears had been released the previous year and received much acclaim. The film starred Colin Firth, Meg Tilly and Annette Bening. It did not earn favorable reviews. However, ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’ a 1996 biopic of pornographic publisher Larry Flynt brought Forman another Oscar nomination. The film starred Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love and Edward Norton.
The biography of famous actor and comic Andy Kaufman (Golden Globe winning Jim Carrey) had premiere on December 22, 1999. The film starred Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Courtney Love and Paul Giamatti. Goya’s Ghosts, followed, this free biography of Spanish painter Francisco Goya, the American-Spanish co-production premiered on November 8, 2006. The film starred Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard and Randy Quaid.
The premiere of Forman’s newest historical drama, The Ghost of Munich, in France based on the novel by Georges-Marc Benamou and written by Forman and Georges-Marc Benamou is expected in 2012. The central topic is the Munich Agreement. The movie follows an investigative journalist who, thirty years after the conference, sets out to locate Edouard Daladier, the former French Council president.