I want to go on record as being against this.

May 4th, 2015

Scott Glenn talked with The Onion AV Club for their Random Roles feature, reeling off a stream of anecdotes about the many films he's been in and the people he's worked with. Like Ron Howard's firefighter drama, Backdraft:

Backdraft (1991) – "John 'Axe' Adcox," stunts


AVC: You actually have a stunt credit on [Backdraft.]

SG: I do. At one point, the stunt coordinator on that – a great stunt coordinator named Walter Scott – he and Ron came to me, and Ron said, "How do you feel about being set on fire?" And I said, "Not great. Why?" [Laughs.] And he said, "Well, this is the deal: We want to hang you about 75 feet up in the air, and we want to light fire below you in this scene, and we want to set the bottom part of your body on fire, and with harness and cables, it'll look like Kurt Russell is hanging from a beam, holding you." It's where I say, "Let me go," and he says, "You go, we go." And Ron said, "The only way I can really sell this shot is to shoot down over Kurt's shoulder, onto you looking up into the camera, hanging there, on fire. And I can't figure out any other way to do it that powerfully with a stunt double." And Walter said, "I want to go on record as being against this. You never set a principal actor on fire, and fire is unpredictable, and blah, blah, blah." But I did it. They say God looks after kids and idiots, and I think actors are probably a combination of the two.

Firestorm (1998) – "Wynt"

AVC: So after enduring all you did on Backdraft, what made you want to do Firestorm?

SG: A lot of money.

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A bunch of people getting hurt, instead of a bunch of people flailing around.

December 4th, 2014

Tony Zhou's latest instalment of Every Frame A Painting is Jackie Chan – How to Do Action Comedy, featuring a positively awe-inspiring collection of action sequences. The best of them are lit and shot so that you can clearly follow what's happening every step of the way and feel every blow. Which shouldn't be remarkable attributes of a fight scene, but apparently are these days.

It's unfair to highlight a favourite bit, but I must say I was very taken with a brief scene1 from a film I'm unfamiliar with called Miracles – Mr. Canton and Lady Rose featuring a spiral staircase. Also, the various sequences from the Police Story films. And … oh, just go and watch it.

  1. Starting at the 2:08 mark.

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'Make no mistake: She's a dancer.'

September 2nd, 2013

John Lahr profiles Claire Danes in The New Yorker.

Lahr's profile touches on many of the highs and lows of her career, with particular attention paid to Homeland for obvious reasons, but for me the highlight is – and probably always will be, no matter what she's cast in for the rest of her career – the role that made her famous, that of Angela Chase. Picture the scene, with My So-Called Life's producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz and the show's writer Winnie Holzman auditioning two actresses for the role:

[Alicia] Silverstone auditioned first. Zwick, impressed, told Herskovitz, "It's done. Just cast her." But Herskovitz thought she was too pretty for Holzman's messy high-school universe, which included subplots about drug addiction, bullying, binge drinking, promiscuity, and homosexuality. "Alicia is so beautiful that that would have affected her experience of the world. People would have been telling her she was beautiful since she was six years old. You can't put that face in what's been written for this girl," he argued. Linda Lowy, the casting director, suggested that they see Danes before deciding. "From the minute she walked in the room, Claire was chilling, astounding, and silent," Lowy said. "There was so much power coming out of her without her doing much." One of the scenes that Danes read – which involved a nervy bathroom breakup with Angela's best friend, Sharon – required her to cry. "Tell me what I did, Angela. I mean, I would really like to know," Sharon says. "We get to that line and Claire's face turns entirely red," Herskovitz said. "Her body starts to vibrate and tears come into her eyes. You realize that she's having a physical experience that is beyond acting." Even then, Danes's defining quality as an actress – a combination of thoughtfulness and impulsiveness – was on display. "She seemed to have been born fully grown, you know, out of a seashell," Herskovitz said. Zwick claimed that Danes was his first sighting of a "wise child," a rare species that show business occasionally tosses up. As he put it later, "What she knows cannot be taught." Danes also satisfied another quality that Holzman's script called for: her face could transform in an instant from beautiful to ordinary.

Holzman's pilot for "My So-Called Life" (then titled "Someone Like Me") was meant to trap "a naked quality, not a person but a feeling of freedom and bondage, shyness and fearlessness," she said. Holzman found herself staring at this protean paradox in the flesh. Danes "was sexy and not sexy, free and bound up, open and closed, funny and frighteningly serious," Holzman recalled. Her performance freed Holzman's imagination. "We gave birth to each other," she said. "I was looking at someone who literally could do anything, and so I could, too." The novelist and television writer Richard Kramer, who worked on "My So-Called Life," places Holzman's writing for the show on a continuum of original television voices that leads from her to Mike White, Larry David, and Lena Dunham. "Winnie wouldn't be Winnie without Claire," he said. "And Claire wouldn't be Claire without Winnie. There was something mythological about their meeting."

After Danes left the audition room, Lowy recalled, "no one could really speak." In the excitement of the moment, the production team found themselves faced with a conundrum. Silverstone was sixteen and "emancipated," meaning, in Hollywood's piquant terminology, that she could work very long days. Danes was thirteen and, by law, had to go to school. If they cast Silverstone, they could move ahead with the show they'd written; if they opted for Danes, they'd have to adapt later scripts to accommodate her schedule. "We turned to Winnie," Herskovitz recalled. "Winnie said, 'Let's change the nature of the show.' " He added, "In that moment, we decided to include the lives of the parents more."

A fortunate day for everyone except Alicia Silverstone.1

[Via Longform]

  1. But then, had she been contracted to a TV show in 1994/5 and waiting to see if it would be renewed Silverstone might not have been free to play Cher Horowitz. Which would also have been a shame.

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Burton and Taylor and Burton and Bonham Carter

July 13th, 2013

Helena Bonham Carter on preparing to play Elizabeth Taylor:

She read the biography Furious Love, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. At the end of the book, Schoenberger explains why she had wanted to write about the couple. "She said she went to UCLA and the students said to her: 'Oh, I didn't know Elizabeth Taylor was married to Tim Burton.' She was so horrified, she thought she had to reclaim the name Burton. It's been hijacked." She bursts out laughing, just as she did when she first read it, with the actual Tim Burton, father of her two children, sitting next to her. "Tim said: 'What's so funny? Haven't they just died?' And I was like, 'No, but read this!' Then, when we were doing it, he felt fucking hell, like he was married to Elizabeth Taylor."

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June 2nd, 2013

My favourite comment from the MetaFilter thread about Matt Smith leaving Doctor Who:

Tilda Swinton cannot be the next Doctor. I think there's a rule against casting an actual citizen of Gallifrey.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:38 AM on June 2

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I don't believe it!

May 8th, 2013

I'm never going to be able to unhear this:

[From a MetaFilter discussion of the use of different regional accents used by actors in Game of Thrones]

For everyone complaining about Dinklage's accent, and its terribleness/variability, I think it might be worth watching a couple of clips of Scottish actor Richard Wilson in One Foot In The Grave, because Dinklage's accent is – consciously or not – an almost exact replica. It has that clipped, haughty tone; it's different enough from a standard English RP accent to sound odd to someone not used to the accent; when he raises his voice, it takes on a kind of exaggerated, exasperated character that can sound oddly Transatlantic. And it's completely genuine: it's the accent of a working class, west coast Scot who has had the more guttural elements of his voice trained out of him by RADA, but who still retains strong vestiges of his background. And it's been put to use for the past four decades playing upper (or at least soi-disant upper) class Scots. That's the accent I hear when I watch Dinklage in Game Of Thrones. It may be capital A Acting, but it's not, in and of itself, a dodgy accent. […]

posted by Len at 11:37 PM on May 7

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Jennifer, meet Jack.

February 25th, 2013

From last night's Oscars, Jennifer Lawrence meeting Jack Nicholson for the first time:


[Amended video link as original video was removed from YouTube. Just in case that one disappears too, here's a screenshot of her reaction. JR 26 Feb 2013]

[Via feeling listless]

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Featuring a cameo appearance by Charlotte Rampling, channeling Mr Oliver Hardy?

December 7th, 2012

Contemplating the career of Ludivine Sagnier, Xan Brooks came up with a striking comparison:

[In her early 20s…] she gave us a 21st-century riff on the French gamine: at once innocent and perverse, beautiful and bent out of shape. The press promptly touted her as "the new Bardot", although that barely scratches at the surface of her wonky appeal. On screen, Sagnier manages to be at once coolly carnal and haplessly gauche. For me, she's like Stan Laurel as played by Marilyn Monroe, though I'll concede that this description may well not catch on.

Not a parallel that occurred to me when I first watched Swimming Pool.

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Epic Tea Time with Alan Rickman

October 25th, 2012

Epic Tea Time with Alan Rickman.

There really is no getting round it. Epic is the only word for it.

[Via The Morning News]

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Two things

July 31st, 2012

Things I learned online today:

[Shipwreck mortality study via The Morning News, news of Jonathan Hardy's death via MetaFilter]

  1. His voice work on Farscape was all sorts of fun.

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