Shawnee Smith (born July 3, 1970) is an American film and television actress and singer. Smith is best known for her roles as Meg Penny in The Blob (1988), Amanda Young in the Saw films and Linda in the CBS sitcom Becker. Smith once fronted the metal band Fydolla Ho, with which she toured the United States and the United Kingdom, and is half of Smith & Pyle, a desert country-rock band, with actress Missi Pyle. She also featured in an awesome MAXIM photoshoot.
Shawnee Smith was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, however, the family relocated from South Carolina to Van Nuys, California, when she was one year old. She attended North Hollywood High School where she graduated from in 1987.
Smith began acting as a child appearing on stage in A Christmas Carol repertory from ages 8 to 11 and starred in a stage play with Richard Dreyfuss at age 15. She joined the Screen Actors Guild at age nine and made her feature film debut in John Huston’s musical Annie, as one of the orphans. In 1985, Smith co-starred in two troubled-teen melodramas, Not My Kind and Crime of Innocence. In 1987, Smith co-starred in the hit comedy film Summer School as pregnant student Rhonda Altobello. The following year, she starred with Kevin Dillon in a 1988 remake of the Steve McQueen b-movie classic The Blob as Meg Penny.
Smith had roles in Who’s Harry Crumb (1989), Michael Cimino’s The Desperate Hours (1990) before taking a three-year break from acting in the early 1990s because she had outgrown teenage roles and had a hard time finding work. During that time she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and competed in a triathlon. When she was about to start attending classes she landed a small role in Leaving Las Vegas (1995), and has had steady work ever since in the likes of Dogtown (1997), Armageddon and Carnival of Souls (both 1998) .
Smith’s best-known television role was Linda, an air-headed nurse’s aide, in the CBS hit comedy series Becker with Ted Danson. She served as a regular cast member in all 129 episodes from 1998–2004. She also featured in the 1994 miniseries The Stand, based on the novel by Stephen King. She also appeared as a waitress in The Shining miniseries, which King adapted from his own novel.
Smith has become well known in recent years for her role as Amanda Young in the Saw films. Due mainly to that role she has been acknowledged as the pre-eminent ‘Scream Queen’ of the last decade. She was the main star of Saw II (2005), and Saw III (2006), and although she is briefly shown in Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008), and Saw 3D (2010), she was never on set. Any scenes featuring her were dubbed from file footage. She filmed brand new flashback sequences for Saw VI (2009).
Smith has repeatedly admitted that she hates being scared and has a hard time watching the Saw films, or any horror movie. She originally turned the role of Amanda Young down because it was very upsetting to her. After turning the role down, she was shown the eight-minute short film by Leigh Whannell and James Wan and changed her mind after the role was offered to her a second time. Smith in the jaw trap became the image on the film poster. She also revealed at SawMania 2008 that her name was initially brought up for the role of Amanda because Saw director James Wan was a big fan of her films in the 1980s and had a longtime crush on her. Director Darren Bousman and Leigh Whannell have also talked about their crushes on Smith in the Saw DVD commentaries.
In 2006, Smith made an appearance in the ten-minute short film trailer Repo! The Genetic Opera by director Darren Lynn Bousmann. Smith’s character was Heather Sweet, the surgery addicted daughter of GeneCo president Rotti Largo. The trailer was filmed after completing Saw III to try to pitch the idea to film producers. Smith did not reprise her role as Heather Sweet when Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures picked up the film in 2007 and was replaced by Paris Hilton!
In 2008, Smith played Detective Gina Harcourt in the FEARnet original series 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust. The series premiered on July 17, 2008 on FEARnet.com in six 4–6 minute webisodes along with behind the scenes clips. This series is a continuation of the first webisode series 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails. It is still available on FEARnet.com and can also be seen in its entirety (about 30 minutes straight through) on FEARnet On Demand. She also made her producing debut with this series.
Smith was the host and one of three mentors on the VH1 reality program Scream Queens which aired from October 20, 2008 to December 8, 2008. Smith did not return as host and mentor for Season 2 due to scheduling conflicts, she was replaced by Jaimie King.
In 2009, Smith played the role of Dr. Ann Sullivan, a child psychiatrist, the third installment of The Grudge series, The Grudge 3. The film was a direct to DVD release in May 2009. She was last seen in the Billy Bob Thornton directed Jayne Mansfield’s Car.
Saul Bass was born on May 8, 1920, in the Bronx, New York, to Eastern European Jewish immigrant parents. He graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx and studied part-time at the Art Students League in Manhattan until attending night classes with György Kepes at Brooklyn College. He began his time in Hollywood during the 1940s doing print work for film ads, until he collaborated with filmmaker Otto Preminger to design the film poster for his 1954 film Carmen Jones. Preminger was so impressed with Bass’s work that he asked him to produce the title sequence as well. This was when Bass first saw the opportunity to create something more than a title sequence, but to create something which would ultimately enhance the experience of the audience and contribute to the mood and the theme of the movie within the opening moments. Bass was one of the first to realize the creative potential of the opening and closing credits of a movie.
Bass became widely known in the film industry after creating the title sequence for Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). The subject of the film was a jazz musician’s struggle to overcome his heroin addiction, a taboo subject in the mid-’50s. Bass decided to create a controversial title sequence to match the film’s controversial subject. He chose the arm as the central image, as the arm is a strong image relating to drug addiction. The titles featured an animated, white on black paper cut-out arm of a heroin addict. As he expected, it caused quite a sensation.
For Alfred Hitchcock, Bass provided effective, memorable title sequences, inventing a new type of kinetic typography, for North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958), working with John Whitney, and Psycho (1960). It was this kind of innovative, revolutionary work that made Bass a revered graphic designer. Before the advent of Bass’s title sequences in the 1950s, titles were generally static, separate from the movie, and it was common for them to be projected onto the cinema curtains, the curtains only being raised right before the first scene of the movie.
Bass once described his main goal for his title sequences as being to ‘’try to reach for a simple, visual phrase that tells you what the picture is all about and evokes the essence of the story”. Another philosophy that Bass described as influencing his title sequences was the goal of getting the audience to see familiar parts of their world in an unfamiliar way.
He designed title sequences for more than 40 years, and employed diverse film making techniques, from cut-out animation for Anatomy of a Murder (1958), to fully animated mini-movies such as the epilogue for Around the World in 80 Days (1956), and live action sequences. His live action opening title sequences often served as prologues to their films and transitioned seamlessly into their opening scenes.
Toward the end of his career, he was rediscovered by Martin Scorsese who had grown up admiring his film work. For Scorsese, Saul Bass (in collaboration with his wife Elaine Bass) created title sequences for Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), and Casino (1995), his last title sequence. His later work with Scorsese saw him move away from the optical techniques that he had pioneered and move into the use of computerized effects. Bass’s title sequences featured new and innovative methods of production and startling graphic design.
Saul Bass designed emblematic movie posters that transformed the visuals of film advertising. Before Bass’s seminal poster for The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), movie posters were dominated by depictions of key scenes or characters from the film, often both juxtaposed with each other. Bass’s posters, however, typically developed simplified, symbolic designs that visually communicated key essential elements of the film. For example, his poster for a Man with a Golden Arm, with a jagged arm and off-kilter typography, starkly communicates the protagonist’s struggle with heroin addition. Bass’s iconic Vertigo (1958) poster, with its stylized figures sucked down into the nucleus of a spiral vortex, captures the anxiety and disorientation central to the film. His poster for Anatomy of a Murder (1959), featuring the silhouette of a corpse jarringly dissected into seven pieces, makes both a pun on the film’s title and captures the moral ambiguities within which this court room drama is immersed.
He did great work for Stanley Kubrick, Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Billy Wilder among other. His last commissioned film poster was created for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), but it was never distributed. His poster work spanned five decades and inspired numerous other poster and graphic designers. Bass’s film posters are characterized by a distinctive typography and minimalistic style.
In some sense, all modern opening title sequences that introduce the mood or theme of a film can be seen as a legacy of Saul Bass’s innovative work. In particular, though, title sequences for some recent movies and television series, especially those whose setting is during the 1960s, have purposely emulated the graphic style of his animated sequences from that era. Some examples of title sequences that pay homage to Bass’s graphics and animated title sequences are Catch Me If You Can (2002), X-Men: First Class (2011), and the opening to the AMC series Mad Men.
Check out some iconic Saul Bass opening titles HERE