These are the young Brit actors you need to be watching now

Paapa Essiedu, Jessica Barden, Chris Walley and Ria Zmitrowicz – remember those names, these faces, as you are likely to be seeing a lot more of them in the future.
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Models, singers and actors at royal wedding

Singers, actors and models were among the guests at Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s royal wedding in Windsor.
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Inside Jack Dorsey’s Role to Police Bad Actors on Twitter

When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before Congress this week, he’ll likely be asked about an issue that has been hovering over the company: Just who decides whether a user gets kicked off the site?
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Clooney tops list of world’s highest-paid actors

George Clooney has been named the world’s highest-paid actor of the last year, beating Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Robert Downey Jr to the title.
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Stage actors rage at audience members watching World Cup on phones

Two women cheer from the front row of a play as they watch England’s penalty win on their phones.
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American Horror Story Season 8: Should the Crossover Actors Play Their Murder House or Coven Characters?

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story, Murder House, CovenSurprise, bitches! The American Horror Story crossover you’ve been waiting for is coming this fall.
Ryan Murphy surprised fans last week when he revealed that a crossover season of…

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Jackson Odell Dead at 20: Everything We Know About The Goldbergs Actor’s Tragic Death

Jackson OdellThe Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has released new details surrounding the death of Jackson Odell.
The department told E! News Odell had a history of heroin addiction but that…

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Facebook Throws More Money at Wiping Out Hate Speech, Bad Actors

Facebook has spent more than a decade building an efficient machine to analyze and monetize the content on its platform. Now it is putting more resources into defending the platform from bad actors.
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Dead Star Trek actor’s family reach deal with Fiat

The parents of late Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin have settled a wrongful death claim against the makers of the car which killed him.
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Jesse Williams and Minka Kelly Split Amid Grey’s Anatomy Actor’s Divorce Battle

Jesse Williams and Minka Kelly have split.

After months of dating, the Grey’s Anatomy actor and Friday Night Lights alum have called it quits, multiple sources confirm to PEOPLE.

Williams, 36, and Kelly, 37, began dating last summer after reportedly meeting while working on a video game, and PEOPLE confirmed their pairing in July, just three months after Williams separated from his wife, Aryn Drake-Lee, with whom he shares two children: daughter Sadie, 3, and son Maceo, 2.

Kelly denied allegations of infideity in October.

“I hope the cheating rumors aren’t true. It would be disappointing,” an Instagram follower wrote in a now-deleted comment on Kelly’s selfie with hairstylist Mark Townsend, E! News reported.

“They’re not,” Kelly shot back. “Hate for you to be disappointed. Glad I could clear that up for you. Now f— off.”

Later, Kelly told another user that she stands by her words. “Anyone and their assumptions about my personal life can do the same,” she said.

Williams filed for divorce  April 11. The actor first met Drake-Lee, a real estate broker, while working as a schoolteacher in New York. The pair wed in September 2012 after more than five years of dating.

In July, Williams also addressed infidelity rumors surrounding his divorce in JAY-Z‘s short film Footnotes for 4:44, the visual accompaniment to the rapper’s latest album.

Without mentioning his ex by name, the father of two subtly referenced the rumors and revealed how difficult the breakup was.

“I was in a relationship 13 years, 13 real years, not 5 years, not 7 years — 13 years,” he said. “All of a sudden motherf—ers are writing think-pieces that I somehow threw a 13-year relationship.”

“Like, the most painful experience I’ve had in my life with a person I’ve loved with all of my heart — that I threw a person and my family in the trash because a girl I work with is cute,” he continued.


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Frakes “Hopes” Tarantino Uses Next Gen Actors

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Gal Gadot and Other Superhero Actors Who Are Super Parents

Justice League, Gal Gadot, Wonder WomanWhen they’re not out saving the world onscreen, superhero movie stars such as Gal Gadot and Chris Hemsworth are busy being super parents.
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19 Actors Who Were Replaced During Movie Production

In a shocking development, due to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey, director Ridley Scott has decided to remove the actor from the film All the Money in the World, which is still scheduled for a December 22nd release.

Replacing Spacey in the role of J. Paul Getty in the movie is Christopher Plummer, whom Scott has stated was his first pick for the part. With reshoots of key scenes set to begin right away, and the film’s cast and crew — including Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams — all in agreement, this is an unprecedented eleventh hour change up for a film so close to its premiere.

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Two Millennials Recreated ‘Annie Hall’ With A Cast Of Senior Actors

“With all due respect to Woody Allen’s creative and comic writing genius,” Shula Chernick, who plays Annie, said. “I think our version is much funnier.”
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Grey’s Anatomy Spinoff Adds 4 Actors to Cast

Grey Damon, Okieriete Onaodowan, Grey's AnatomyThe Grey’s Anatomy spinoff continues to take shape.
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Watch Actors Transform Into Living Van Gogh Paintings Before Your Eyes

The mesmerizing stills are from the upcoming, entirely painted biopic “Loving Vincent.”
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33 Actors Reveal What It’s Really Like to Shoot a Sex Scene

Justin Timberlake, Friends With BenefitsSimulating sex is harder than it looks.
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For Disabled Actors, Memorizing the Part Is Only the Beginning

A peek backstage at the play “Cost of Living” shows how two performers prepare physically for their roles.
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‘Malicious actors used Facebook’ during US election

Facebook has said its data “does not contradict” the US Director of National Intelligence’s conclusion that Russia was behind efforts to interfere with the US election.
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Class act: Are posh actors given more praise?

Line Of Duty star Daniel Mays said the upper echelons of acting are currently in vogue, but is he right in thinking so?
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‘I Am Heath Ledger’ Focuses On The Actor’s Life, Not His Death

Heath was the most alive human and if it wasn’t on the edge, it didn’t interest him. If there wasn’t some type of risk involved, he had no time for it. He went all the way out with the time that he had. He went all the way to the edge.

That quote by musician Ben Harper opens “I Am Heath Ledger,” the new documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival April 23 and airing on Spike TV next month. 

Harper joins Heath Ledger’s closest friends and family members in the heartwarming project, directed by Adrian Buitenhuis and Derik Murray. The film compiles interviews with the likes of Ledger’s parents and colleagues, including Naomi Watts, Ang Lee, Matt Amato and Djimon Hounsou, among the actor’s own photos and footage, which he shot throughout his 28 years. In a way, Ledger himself is a director of his own documentary. 

“There were always cameras around,” Ledger’s former girlfriend and model Christina Cauchi says in the film. “I mean, he was documenting everything and he was just surrounded by all of those moments he was in, but then he’d be capturing the next moment and the next moment and the next moment. It didn’t stop, it never stopped.” 

“It wasn’t just to film us or film what we were doing, he was creating something, straightaway,” Ledger’s best friend Trevor DiCarlo explains. 

Ledger’s death in January 2008 took the world by storm, considering his illustrious career and reputation in Hollywood. At the time of his passing, Ledger was shooting “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” and was set to debut his unforgettable work as The Joker in “The Dark Knight,” which went on to win him a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. 

But Ledger was so much more than just an actor, as the film comes to show.

He was a son. He was a director. He was a brother. He was a chess player. He was a friend. He was a photographer. He was a father. He was a music lover. And most importantly, he was an influencer. 

“Some people are just bigger than the world has room for,” Harper says of Ledger, with Lee later adding, “He was a person so talented, even God envied him.” 

Below, eight things we learned while watching “I Am Heath Ledger.” 

 

Mel Gibson was his first teacher. 

When Ledger booked the role of Gabriel Martin, Mel Gibson’s son, in “The Patriot,” it was a dream come true for the Australian actor.

“It was a huge production. It was a little terrifying,” DiCarlo says of the 2000 movie. “You can tell he wanted to do a good job, he was still learning.” 

Ledger’s agent, Steve Alexander, admits that he had a slight “crisis of confidence” and was struggling on set, but soon took note of the lessons he was learning from Gibson. 

“He’s standing across from his idol,” Alexander says. “Acting with Mel Gibson for a young Aussie kid was a lot. [But] Mel was great and really generous with him and took him under his wing and was amazing.” 

“Mel really taught him how to come in and out of a character,” DiCarlo adds.

 

 

Fame scared him. 

Although Ledger always knew he wanted to be an actor, once “A Knight’s Tale” really put him on the map, he became a bit overwhelmed by all the attention.

He was “mortified, and he felt owned,” his friend and director Matt Amato says. 

“He kind of almost pulled out of every movie he ended up doing [over fear he’d fail],” Alexander admits, adding that Ledger followed through with his career because he enjoyed the art of the craft.

 

He housed a lot of Australian actors when they came to Los Angeles. 

Ledger apparently was everybody’s buddy, putting up dozens of Australian actors at the start of their careers, including Martin Henderson, Rose Byrne and Joel Edgerton. 

“The Australian thing, to me, was, ‘Yeah, come one, come all!’” Naomi Watts, who dated Ledger from 2002 to 2004, jokes in the film. 

“You’ve flown around the world. Staying in LA somewhere for a couple of months? That cost a lot, and I had nothing going on work-wise. Nothing,” actor Ben Mendelsohn, who stayed at Ledger’s place, explains.

Ledger would apparently throw parties and DJ on the turntables all night. 

“People would stay a long time, sometimes a bit longer than necessary,” Watts says. “With him, it was just [having] friends to hang out with and share the journey. He was very big on sharing his success.”

 

He might’ve, sort of, inspired “Entourage.” 

At one of these house parties, Mendelsohn spotted “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier, and swears he was doing research for the HBO show by getting a glimpse into Ledger’s posse.

“Heath’s place in LA was a renowned sort of pre-’Entourage’ entourage house,” Mendelsohn says, explaining the time Grenier showed up at the house. “I often fancy that he was doing a bit of research on a functioning entourage, because Heath wasn’t there so ‘Vinny,’ as it were, would have been away making a film.” 

 

He almost played Spider-Man. 

After “Monster’s Ball,” people viewed Ledger in a different way, as more of a “dramatic actor,” Alexander said. 

“When I read ‘Spiderman,’ I talked to him about it and it was almost immediate that he said, ‘That makes no sense for me. I can’t possibly be Peter Parker,’” Alexander explains. “He was looking, always, for something that was going to be truly challenging … ways that he could disappear into a character and be almost recognizable.” 

The role obviously went to Toby Maguire. 

 

He was an impressive chess player.

Ledger played chess “every day,” according to Amato, who says they would often face-off in matches or play online if they weren’t together.

“I always felt that he was five moves in front of me,” Ledger’s dad, Kim, says of his son’s chess skills. “By the time he was 10 or 11 or so, it was pretty hard to actually beat him. Heath was trying to achieve a grand master status, and was only a few points away from achieving his goal.”  

Ledger, who directed a few music videos, was set to make his feature-length directorial debut on “The Queen’s Gambit,” about a young chess player addicted to drugs. The film was reportedly going to star Ellen Page, and was scheduled to begin shooting in late 2008. 

“He understood that story inside and out … he had something to say. He had the ability to communicate his ideas, he could translate into film,” cinematographer Ed Lachman says in the doc. 

 

Bon Iver wrote a song based on Heath’s life. 

When he found out Ledger died, Amato was shooting Bon Iver’s music video “The Wolves (Act I & II).” 

“I just held him for the longest time,” Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon says. “This person that I had just met just lost somebody so important to them ― it was no longer about making a Bon Iver music video anymore. This was now our chance to be there with Matt as he grieved. It was a three-day wake.” 

After the experience, Vernon began writing down lyrics “on some of these visions Matt would kind of tell me about Heath growing up in Australia.” 

“The words ended up being the first song on [my self-titled album], and I called it ‘Perth.’” 

The mostly instrumental song features the lyrics, “Still alive for you, love.” 

 

There are misconceptions about his death.  

The film discusses Ledger’s sleeping problems at length. Almost everyone interviewed admits that he had a hard time resting his mind, soaking up every second of each day. His email was even “illberunningaround@[insert].com.”

At the time of his death, Ledger was having trouble sleeping and was sick with pneumonia. The prescribed medications mixed with sleeping pills are what caused his accidental overdose.

“It’s still hard when people talk about it and people have preconceived ideas surrounding that period of time. But that’s what people do. They come up with their version of it that makes it convenient,” Alexander says. “The truth is, he was super happy and loving life and he struggled with some demons but he wasn’t wanting to go anywhere but forward.”

“I guess we’re no different from anyone else who loses a child or loses somebody suddenly. The only difference being we had to live our feelings out in the public eye,” his mom, Sally, says, with sister Kate adding, “The world did find out before we did. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.” 

 

I Am Heath Ledger” airs on Spike TV May 17 at 10 p.m. ET. 

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Let’s Not Pit British And American Black Actors Against Each Other

Do black British actors “steal” roles from African-American actors?

On Thursday, Samuel L. Jackson sparked this debate in an interview on Hot.97, where he talked about Jordan Peele’s social horror “Get Out,” and questioned how the movie might have been different had the lead black character been played by an American actor, instead of British actor Daniel Kaluuya.

“Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for 100 years,” Jackson said. “What would a brother from America have made of that role? Some things are universal but [not everything].”

Jackson’s comments drew instant criticism from some people online, including British-Nigerian actor John Boyega who tweeted:

Others weighed in:

Jackson clarified his comments later that day, insisting that he wasn’t trying to slam black British actors, but rather callout the Hollywood machine, which he believes hires Brits because they’re cheaper and “classically trained” at British institutions like RADA. 

“I don’t know what the love affair is with all that,” Jackson told The Associated Press. 

So, are black British actors actually “stealing” acting jobs away from African-American stars? Of course not, but the situation is still complicated. It’s true that some things are not “universal” for all black actors, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. 

David Oyelowo told NPR in 2014 that, part of the reason Ava DuVernay cast him as Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Selma” was the fact that he was British, and thus would go into the role with less “baggage” than a black American actor. 

The line between which black actors can play which roles is far hazier than, say, the idea of a white actor playing an iconic black character. After all, just as black British actors like Chiwitel Ejiofor and Idris Elba have played black Americans on screen, American actors like Don Cheadle, Denzel Washington, and Forest Whitaker have played British characters. And what about African characters?

There have been at least five movies and a mini-series made about Nelson Mandela ― none of the actors who played him (Danny Glover, Terrence Howard, Idris Elba, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne) were South African. Should we draw a line there as well? Is it OK that African-born actors rarely get cast in African parts? 

This situation is far too complex to start pointing fingers and tallying up all the times a black Brit played an African-American and all the times an African-American played a brit. Because this all boils down to the politics of the entertainment industry, both in America and the U.K. 

As Idris Elba explained in an address to the British Parliament last year, there is a dearth of proper, meaty roles for black actors in the U.K. So many of them go to New York or Los Angeles for better opportunities. Indeed, Elba, David Oyelowo and John Boyega did not see their careers begin to truly flourish until they each made crossovers in American films. 

And as Jackson pointed out in his radio interview on Thursday, these actors tend to cost studios less to hire ― studios which also, according to Jackson, exotify these actors because of their training. 

“They think they’re better trained, for some reason, than we are because they’re ‘classically’ trained,” Jackson explained. 

This clash has a lot to do with the subtle forces of class and respectability politics, which have worked to divide those in the diaspora for decades upon decades. It’s all a question of inclusion, representation, and what opportunities are being afforded to actors of all kinds. Hollywood is still racist, and its racism manifests itself in many ways.

The most damaging way, of course, is that there still continues to be too few roles for a wide pool of talented actors, and the big roles generally only go to those established black actors (like Samuel L. Jackson) who’ve put in 10, 20, even 40 years in the game. A white American actor of Jackson’s stature would probably have a very different perspective about being up for a role against, say, Benedict Cumberbatch, because there would probably be 20 more good roles out there waiting for him.

The debate surrounding context and history and how that affects a black actor’s performance certainly isn’t a useless one. Thinking about how an American actor like, say, Michael B. Jordan would have played in “Get Out” is interesting to think about, but it doesn’t make Kaluuya’s performance any less profound. 

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Samuel L Jackson: Don’t cast British actors in films about US race relations

Samuel L Jackson has criticised Hollywood directors for casting British actors in films about US race relations.
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11 Times The Oscars Honored White Actors For Playing People Of Color

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made strides to become more diverse in recent years, but there’s a long road ahead to make up for the organization’s long legacy of exclusion.

Throughout its 90-year history, the Academy has not only failed to recognize the talent of many actors and actresses of color but awarded whitewashed roles in the industry.

Hollywood has consistently given diverse roles to white actors over the years; in fact, quite recently Tilda Swinton was cast as a Tibetan monk in 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” And the Oscars haven’t helped alleviate this long-standing issue by rewarding this kind of whitewashing. 

Several notable white actors have been nominated for an Oscar for portraying people of color through the years. Many of them have actually won. 

Take a look at 11 times the academy has nominated actors for blackface, brownface and yellowface. 

Jennifer Connelly, “A Beautiful Mind”

Jennifer Connelly portrayed Alicia, the wife of mathematician John Nash in 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind.” In real-life, Alicia Nash (born Alicia Lardé) was Salvadorian. The actress, who has no Latin American roots, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role.

William Hurt, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”

In “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” William Hurt plays Luis Molina, a queer South American prisoner. The film was adapted from Argentine author Manuel Puig’s novel of the same name. Hurt, a white man who doesn’t identify as LGBTQ or Latino, won an Oscar for Best Actor for the role in 1985. 

Linda Hunt, “The Year of Living Dangerously”

Actress Linda Hunt won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1983 for portraying Billy Kwan in “The Year of Living Dangerously.” In the film, Kwan is a Chinese-Australian male photographer with dwarfism working in Jakarta, Indonesia.

 Laurence Olivier, “Othello”

Shakespeare’s “Othello” is a Christian Moor, who is often portrayed as having a dark-complexion. Legendary British actor Laurence Olivier wore blackface when he portrayed Othello in the 1965 film version. The actor was nominated by The Academy in the Best Actor category for the role. 

George Chakiris, “West Side Story”

Greek-American actor George Chakiris portrayed Bernardo, leader of the Puerto Rican gang The Sharks in “West Side Story.” He, as well as other white actors portraying Latino characters in the film, darkened their complexion with make-up. Chakiris won an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category for the role. 

Hugh Griffith, “Ben-Hur”

Hugh Griffith portrayed Sheik Ilderim, an Arab character who owns the horses Judah ends up using in his chariot race, in 1959’s “Ben-Hur.” The British actor won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role. 

Spencer Tracy, “The Old Man and the Sea”

Fans of Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea might recall the book’s titular character is a Cuban fisherman. But in the 1958 film adaptation of the novel, Spencer Tracy was given the titular role. The actor, who is not Latino, was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actor category for his role. 

Yul Brynner, “The King and I”

Yul Brynner, who is mainly of Russian descent, starred as the King of Siam (present-day Thailand) in the 1956 musical “The King and I.” The actor won an Oscar in the Best Actor category for the role. 

Marlon Brando, “Viva Zapata!”

Hollywood brought the story of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata to life in the 1952 film “Viva Zapata!” The titular role went to Marlon Brando, who is not Latino. The actor was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actor category for the role. 

Luise Rainer, “The Good Earth” 

“The Good Earth” is a 1937 film based on the historical novel of the same name, its story focuses on a family of Chinese farmers. Actress Luise Rainer wore yellowface to portray O-Lan, one of the film’s protagonists, and she took home an Oscar for Best Actress for the role. 

Gale Sondergaard, “Anna and the King of Siam”

Gale Sondergaard portrayed Lady Thiang, the king’s head wife, in “Anna and the King of Siam.” The actress, who is not of Asian descent, was nominated for the role in the The Academy’s Best Supporting Actress category. 

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Dustin Lance Black Calls ‘Bullsh*t’ On Hollywood’s View Of Trans Actors

Count Dustin Lance Black among the Hollywood heavyweights who are unsatisfied with the treatment of transgender people on the big screen.

The Oscar-winning “Milk” screenwriter is currently in the midst of a media blitz in support of his seven-part ABC minseries, “When We Rise,” which premieres on Feb. 27 and chronicles the LGBTQ rights movement throughout history. When it came to casting the series, Black told PrideSource that he could officially “call bullsh*t” on those who say they have difficultly finding talented transgender performers to portray trans characters on film and television. (You can view the trailer for “When We Rise” above.) 

“First and foremost, when I’m casting any role, I’m gonna look for somebody who can bring a part of their experience to the role. They still have to be a great actor, so if I can’t find anyone in the world who shares some experience that they’re about to portray in this character, who’s also a good actor, then I’ll happily go for someone else,” the 42-year-old told PrideSource’s Chris Azzopardi. To those who say it’s difficult to find skilled trans stars, he added, “They should call our casting directors because they found unbelievable trans actors and actresses, and it was actually tough to decide who to cast.”

Recalling the struggles he had developing “Milk” years ago, Black said he was especially proud to find a home for “When We Rise,” which also stars Guy Pearce and Mary-Louise Parker, on ABC. The network’s decision, he added, feels like a particular subversive one, given that the results of the 2016 presidential election cast a dark cloud on the future of LGBTQ rights

“We’ve come to a place where we can perhaps talk the same language of family between these two Americas, and perhaps change hearts and minds in a time when that seems absolutely, critically necessary,” he said. “You want to change a mind in that other America? You gotta lead from the heart, and you do that by telling stories.”

He went on to note, “There’s not a lot we think we have in common right now, but both Americas have family stories, and we can both be moved by each other’s family stories.”

Check out the full PrideSource interview with Dustin Lance Black here.

For the latest in LGBTQ entertainment, don’t miss the Queer Voices newsletter

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Screen Actors Guild Awards Red Carpet Fashion

Held Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the show presented yet another opportunity for actors to try out their finery before the Oscars.
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Oscar Nominations 2017: 14 for ‘La La Land,’ and 6 for Black Actors

The academy seeks to rebound from two years of #OscarsSoWhite with nods for Denzel Washington, Ruth Negga, Viola Davis, Mahershala Ali and others.
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The Professional Actor’s Handbook

The Professional Actor’s Handbook


Pursuing an acting career is not easy. It takes hard work, dedication, and the ability to shrug off rejection. It also requires an ability to navigate the pitfalls of an often precarious profession. While there are many books that attempt to teach people how to act, there are few books that show individuals what it takes to succeed as a working professional. The Professional Actor’s Handbook: From Casting Call to Curtain Call provides individuals with strategies that will help them successfully negotiate every stage of their careers. From recent college graduates to seasoned professionals looking to transition their careers to the next level, this book is a much needed guide. Among the many topics covered in this book, the authors demonstrate how to: Create a Captivating ResumeTake a “Perfect” HeadshotCompile a Complete Rep BookConquer Audition NervesEstablish an Online PresenceFinance a Developing CareerOther strategies address how to network, how to survive while building a performing arts career, and even how to organize your home office. Featuring sample resumes and business cards, insights from industry experts-including agents and casting directors-and a list of resources, this book offers invaluable guidance-including advice on how to negotiate a contract. Along with audition manuals and repertoire binders, The Professional Actor’s Handbook is a vital reference that belongs on every aspiring performer’s bookshelf.

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‘Hamilton’ Producers and Actors Reach Deal on Sharing Profits

The show, which could make hundreds of millions of dollars, is sharing some of its wealth with the actors who were in the room where it happened.
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Four Actors Receive 2 Golden Globe Nominations in 2016: How Likely Is It That Each Star Will Win Both Awards?

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association really, really liked four actors in 2015. Angela Bassett, America Ferrera, Chloë Grace Moretz and Dennis Quaid announced the nominees for the 72nd…

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5 Up-and-Coming Actors Share Why They Want to See More Women Directors in Hollywood

Have you met the five up-and-coming actors that we're predicting you'll fall in love with this spring yet? (Do that here!) When we spoke to the guys, we were genuinely impressed by how animated their…


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First Nighter: Robert O’Hara’s “Barbecue” Sizzles a Bit, Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” is Catnip for Actors

The first act of Robert (Bootycandy) O’Hara’s Barbecue consists of four scenes, two each in alternation, depicting a lower-class white family and a lower-class black family on what looks like a picnic in a shady Middle America forest preserve.

Curiously, the five members of both families, on vivid display at the Public, share the same names–James T. (Mark Damon Johnson, Paul Niebanck), Lillie Anne (Becky Ann Baker, Kim Wayans), Marie (Arden Myrin, Heather Alicia Simms), Adlean (Constance Shulman, Benja Kay Thomas) and Barbara (Tamberla Perry, Samantha Soule).

As the act progresses and no actual barbecuing happens, it’s revealed that in each family unit James T., Lillie Anne, Marie and Adlean aren’t present simply to scream and shout at each other over long-brewing resentments. They’ve planned this outing as an intervention. Prone to drinking and drugging as they are–Lillie Anne more or less excepted–they’re worried about sibling Barbara, whose substance abuse apparently outdoes theirs by a country mile.

Since the actions of both groups virtually mirror each others’ and the term “bad behavior” only begins to describe how they engage intramurally (though more verbally than physically), the point playwright O’Hara’s looks to be establishing is that white trash and black trash are equally trashy.

And while some of the tactics they use to bait each other are occasionally amusing, there’s a whiff of superiority about his intentions. There’s the sense that O’Hara is sending a middle-class audience the snootily comforting “aren’t the less privileged just awful?” message. Not too accepting of him, is it? The poor(er) may always be with us, but that’s no excuse to denigrate them as relentlessly as O’Hara does almost to the act’s end when the two Barbaras, the supposed interventions, finally arrive.

But then the cunning dramatist pulls a fast one. Having led the patrons through four scenes that have more than started to try patience, he shifts gears in as radical a manner as any sleight-of-hand playwright has in recent, and even not so recent, memory.

As a result and because of the Barbecue structure, just about any further description of the action–and that means the entire second act–would turn into a monumental spoiler. Perhaps it’s acceptable to indulge a quasi-spoiler and report that for much of the comedy’s remainder the two Barbaras, who heretofore have said just about zilch, take focus. One of them begins to resemble an actual celebrity along the lines of Whitney Houston and one of them, a memoirist, feels partially derived from James Frey’s notorious account of his life as an addict.

In other words, O’Hara’s seeming satire of a stratum of American society morphs into a satire of a completely different stripe. He’s sending up commercial cynicism as manifested in contemporary America life. Okay, maybe it’s also fair to say he makes an implied larger point by focusing narrowly on publishing and Hollywood. In his wily way, he even gets around to an Oscar race.

While he’s at it, he’s created 10 juicy parts for his cast to play under Kent Gash’s colorful direction and in Paul Tazewell’s often hilarious costumes that take into account the attraction women often have to leopard spots. Perry’s Barbara is at first super-confident, as the script has it, but begins to crumble, where Soule’s Barbara, who’s initially slightly intimidated by those second-act circumstances, gains her footing with aplomb. The others grab hold of their exuberant roles as if they were caged lions thrown thick steaks.

Whether the elongated nature of the first act is compensated for by the second act–which surely depends on falling for the second-act development–is up in the air. But O’Hara can be thanked for taking the risk as well as for much of the furious humor he unleashes.
******************
Since Sam Shepard’s 1983 Fool for Love didn’t appeal to me then and not in subsequent productions I’ve seen, I wondered whether this latest one, at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman, would finally change my mind. Though when the lights went up on it, I was impressed by Dane Leffrey’s claustrophobic representation of a motel room on the edge of the Mohave Desert, nothing that ensued changed my ho-hum attitude towards the script.

Anyone who knows Shepard’s plays knows he’s impelled to assess the barren quality of American culture through depictions of the spiritually depleted American West. Fool for Love is no exception. (Mohave Desert = emotionally arid–get it?)

Eddie (Sam Rockwell) and May (Nina Arianda) are battling out their unspecified relationship alone, although sitting immobile in a chair just aside from the sterile motel accommodation is The Old Man (Gordon David Weiss.) The assumption is that the two are lovers, perhaps attempting to overcome an estrangement–or perhaps not.

For the longest time in the 75-minute one-act, The Old Man says nothing. Eventually, he addresses either Eddie or May, while whoever else is in the room hears nothing of what’s exchanged. Eventually roped into the fray is sincere gentleman caller Martin (Tom Pelphrey), who doesn’t quite know how to play the quivering vibes.

As those 75 minutes tick by, the connections between Eddie, May and The Old Man become clear. That’s to say they become clearer, although many patrons may well be left figuratively trudging through the Mohave sand, trying to catch up with what’s transpiring–and that includes an explosive before-fade-out occurrence that lighting designer Justin Townsend executes well. Sound designer Ryan Rumery also has a few ear-catching turns.

For patrons the effort put into making sense of events may not be worth it. What does go a fair stretch towards rendering the expended efforts rewarding are the performances. At first glimpsed sitting at the edge of the bed bent over with her hair hiding her face, tuft-like, Arianda plays the labile May as if she’s a tornado gathering force. Rockwell sees the cowboy-hatted Eddie as a not-yet-ignited stick of dynamite. He’s all contained menace. Weiss grabs attention for much of the time by doing nothing to grab attention and so is that much more attention-grabbing when he goes for it. Pelfrey does befuddled nice guy exactly right.

It may be that the lure for actors of such pungent roles explains the frequent Fool for Love sightings. Indeed, it may be that Shepard’s demanding work-out is more entertaining for the performers who get to take on Eddie and May than it is for anyone who gets to watch them.

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19 Actors You Never Knew Were in Lifetime Movies

One of the biggest moments on TV this weekend was the premiere of A Deadly Adoption, thanks to its stars Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell. But it's not so surprising that those two were in…




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Report: Donald Trump Hired Actors For Presidential Announcement

Donald Trump’s big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $ 50 a pop.

New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump’s event.

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Tracy Morgan Settles With Wal-Mart Over Fatal Crash That Killed Actor’s Friend And Injured Three Others

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan has settled his lawsuit against Wal-Mart over a New Jersey highway crash that killed one man and left Morgan and two friends seriously injured.

A filing in federal court in Newark on Wednesday refers to a confidential settlement reached by the two sides.

Morgan’s lawyer hasn’t responded to a message seeking comment.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. calls it an “amicable settlement.” Details haven’t been disclosed.

A Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of a limo van carrying Morgan and the others back from a show in Delaware last June. Comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair was killed. Morgan suffered head trauma, a broken leg and broken ribs.

Wal-Mart reached a settlement with McNair’s two children in January.

The truck driver, a man from Jonesboro, Georgia, faces several criminal charges, including death by auto, in state court. He has pleaded not guilty. He wasn’t a defendant in Morgan’s federal lawsuit.

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Actors Equity and the Future of American Theater

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This week, the membership of Actors Equity, the union of American stage actors, voted to oust an incumbent president – virtually unprecedented in the history of the organization. The ouster was the result of an organized revolt by actors in Los Angeles, who have been fighting Equity’s efforts to gut LA’s vibrant intimate theater scene. While the election is the first step in a long battle, it may significantly impact the future of American theater.

Actors Equity has a long and proud history of championing the rights of actors, beginning in 1913 when it was founded by a courageous group of a few hundred actors. The union has been in the forefront of the struggle for civil rights and freedom of expression, notably during the McCarthy era when it refused to ban blacklisted performers. However, as the LA battle illustrates, Equity has at least temporarily lost its way.

As far back as the 1950’s and ’60’s, when the burgeoning Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway movements were spawning a generation of playwrights, directors and actors who would dominate the next generation of American theater, as well as film and television, the seeds of the future have been planted in storefronts, basements and church halls where actors not only perform, but build sets, sew costumes and staff the box office. They devote their time – inevitably without pay – not only because they love the theater, but also because they want a chance to experiment, to test their creative wings and to dream beyond the boundaries of commercial theater.

While Equity has sometimes been resistant to these grassroots movements – as they were initially to Off and Off-Off-Broadway – it has also been instrumental in helping these movements to grow and blossom. In the case of New York, Equity came to recognize the importance of nurturing new theater companies and carved out a number of exceptions to its strict union rules to permit actors to work in non-commercial theater. This, in turn, led to a vital and prolific theater scene in New York that produced many of the most significant plays and theater companies of the twentieth century.

There is no doubt that Actors Equity has a vital role to play in American theater in the 21st century, much as it did throughout the 20th century. However, if it wants to preserve its vital role it must change its vision of the future, as well as the manner in which it pursues that vision. Its heavy-handed approach to the Los Angeles theater community reveals serious flaws both in Equity’s vision of the future and its ability to implement any vision at all. From the beginning, Equity misread the sentiment of its LA membership – perhaps out of a myopic view of LA theater – or simply out of ignorance. To compound the problem, Equity ham-handled the rollout of their proposal, turning what may have been intended as an opening gambit for discussion into a dictat from an uncaring union.

Hopefully, the union leadership has learned its lesson after the open revolt of LA membership and the ouster of an incumbent president. Ironically, the bungled rollout of Equity’s LA theater proposal may have strengthened the hand of other insurgent groups in New York, Chicago and other cities, who would like to see a more progressive approach to their small theater scene. New York’s Showcase Code is in many respects more restrictive than LA’s, and actors in Chicago small theaters are in an even worse situation. As actor Chris Agos wrote in his book about the Chicago acting scene “The overwhelming majority of live theater in Chicago is happening in storefront spaces and being done by actors who aren’t affiliated with AEA. Audiences will see innovative, powerful performances in these theaters, but they simply can’t afford to pay their actors a living wage.”

Far from killing off LA’s intimate theater scene, Equity may have spawned a national movement to follow LA’s lead. As in any adventurous endeavor, the quality of Los Angeles theater varies wildly from the groundbreaking and inspiring to the narcissistic and pedestrian. However, the same can be said of the early days of Off and Off-Off-Broadway. This is the nature of the theater, of creativity and of change. Whatever one’s view of the LA theater scene, it is indisputably one of the most vital theater communities in the country, if not the world, and could certainly serve as a model for the future. At this important turning point in its proud and storied history, Equity has the opportunity to provide leadership for the next century of American theater. Let us hope that it will step up and embrace that opportunity.

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New Hood Actor’s Headgear Doll Clothes

New Hood Actor’s Headgear Doll Clothes


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The Quotable Actor: 1001 Pearls of Wisdom from Actors Talking about Acting

The Quotable Actor: 1001 Pearls of Wisdom from Actors Talking about Acting


Collecting advice, quotes, essays, and observations from hundreds of famous actors and highly regarded acting teachers, this book covers a wide range of topics on the art and history of acting. Entertaining, instructive, and informative, it is organized into specific, easy-to-search categories, such as On Why We Act; On Auditioning, Struggling, and Building a Career; and On Gender Differences and Aging in the Biz. From art and technique to business and lifestyle, entries include fascinating anecdotes and advice from some of the greatest actors in history–Marlon Brando commenting on the rehearsal process, Meryl Streep’s advice on building a character, Al Pacino recalling what it was like to be a starving young artist, beauty tips from some of Hollywood’s leading ladies, recollections of horrible auditions from A-list stars, and musings from Jack Nicholson, Edwin Booth, and many others. Additional contributors include Constantin Stanislavski, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ellen Burstyn, Julie Andrews, Paul Newman, and Peter O’Toole–providing insights into the actor’s craft that are equally useful to young actors just starting out and accomplished professionals looking for inspiration in the words of peers.
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The Quotable Actor: 1001 Pearls of Wisdom from Actors Talking About Acting

The Quotable Actor: 1001 Pearls of Wisdom from Actors Talking About Acting


Collecting advice, quotes, essays, and observations from hundreds of famous actors and highly regarded acting teachers, The Quotable Actor covers a wide range of topics on the art and history of acting.

Entertaining, instructive, and informative, it is organized into specific, easy-to-search categories, such as On Why We Act; On Auditioning; On Struggling and Building a Career; and On Gender Differences and Aging in the Biz.

From art and technique to business and lifestyle, entries include fascinating anecdotes and advice from some of the greatest actors in history:

Marlon Brando commenting on the rehearsal process
Meryl Streep''s advice on building a character
Al Pacino recalling what it was like to be a starving young artist
Beauty tips from some of Hollywood''s leading ladies
Recollections of horrible auditions from A-list stars
Musings from Jack Nicholson, Edwin Booth, and many others

Additional contributors include Constantin Stanislavski, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ellen Burstyn, Julie Andrews, Paul Newman, and Peter O''Toole-providing insights into the actor''s craft that are equally useful to young actors just starting out and accomplished professionals looking for inspiration in the words of peers.
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Mickey Rooney Remembered: Celebrities React To Legendary Actor’s Death

Celebrities of all stripes — from actors to astronauts — took to Twitter to convey their thoughts about Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney, who died on April 6 at the age of 93.


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Philip Seymour Hoffman Investigation Suspect Had Actor’s Phone Number, Authorities Say

NEW YORK (AP) — At least one of four people arrested during an investigation of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s suspected fatal heroin overdose had the actor’s cellphone number, two law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Investigators zeroed in on the four after a tipster, responding to publicity about Hoffman’s death, told police he had seen Hoffman at the lower Manhattan apartment building where they were arrested on Tuesday and he believed that’s where Hoffman got the heroin, the officials said. In searches of two apartments in the building, police found hundreds of packets of heroin in one of them, according to a criminal complaint. But prosecutors declined to pursue charges against one of the four, saying there was no evidence that he had control of the drugs or the apartment in which they were found, and two of the others were charged only with a misdemeanor charge of possessing cocaine, not heroin. Only one, jazz musician Robert Vineberg, was facing a felony charge of heroin possession with intent to sell.

Lawyers for the three people charged vigorously denied their clients had any role in Hoffman’s death and suggested they were being swept up in a maelstrom of attention surrounding the actor’s demise.

“This case and the charges against Mr. Vineberg have absolutely nothing to do with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. … We’re hoping the (district attorney) will not use Mr. Vineberg as a scapegoat,” said his lawyer, Edward Kratt, who declined to say whether Vineberg knew Hoffman.

The arrests came two days into the high-profile case, reflecting the attention and urgency it has attracted. All three of the people charged were indicted within a day after their arrests, a fairly unusual step, and were being held without bail. The two charged with cocaine possession, Juliana Luchkiw and Max Rosenblum, a couple who are neighbors of Vineberg’s, were visibly dismayed when a judge denied them bail, though their lawyers hoped to revisit the issue Thursday.

“She’s not a drug dealer. She’s a college student,” attending a design school, said Luchkiw’s lawyer, Stephen Turano.

Rosenblum’s lawyer, Daniel Hochheiser, said his client “has nothing to do with Philip Seymour Hoffman.”

Luchkiw and Rosenbaum had two bags of cocaine, while investigators found about 300 packets of heroin, a bag of cocaine and about $ 1,200 in cash in Vineberg’s apartment, according to criminal complaints.

Investigators have determined that the “Capote” star made six ATM transactions for a total of $ 1,200 inside a supermarket near his home the day before his death, law enforcement officials have said. Investigators are examining a computer and two iPads found at the scene for clues and recovered syringes, a charred spoon and various prescription medications, including a blood pressure drug and a muscle relaxant, law enforcement officials have said.

Police learned from phone records that one of the suspects had Hoffman’s number, strengthening the theory that they may have supplied him with drugs, the law enforcement officials said. The officials, who weren’t authorized to speak about evidence in the ongoing investigation of the death and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, didn’t identify which of the suspects had the number.

Some of the packets found in Hoffman’s apartment were variously stamped with the ace of hearts and others with the ace of spades. Those found in the building where the arrests occurred had different brand names, including Black List and Panda, the officials said.

Police were waiting for a cause of death for the Oscar-winning actor from the medical examiner’s office, which said on Wednesday that more tests were needed.

There was no timetable for Hoffman’s autopsy to be finished, said medical examiner’s office spokeswoman Julie Bolcer, who declined to discuss the pending tests. Toxicology and tissue tests are typically done in such cases.

Hoffman, 46, was found dead Sunday with a needle in his arm, and tests found heroin in samples from at least 50 packets in his apartment in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, law enforcement officials have said.

Courts have found that under state law drug dealers can’t be held liable for customers’ deaths.

A 1972 state appellate division case found a dealer can’t be found guilty of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide for selling heroin and syringes to a customer who later dies because, the court ruled, legislation enhancing punishment for drug crimes didn’t redefine homicide to include the sale of an illicit drug that results in death.

And holding a drug dealer criminally liable for a customer’s overdose death could prove difficult for the district attorney’s office, said James Cohen, a Fordham University School of Law professor who runs a clinic that represents federal criminal defendants.

“It’s not just enough that you know, if you will, theoretically or academically, that heroin could kill,” he said.

Former police detective Scott Prendergast, who worked on the high-profile investigation into the 1996 heroin overdose death of Jonathan Melvoin, a keyboard player touring with the rock band Smashing Pumpkins, said it’s not uncommon for investigators to track down dealers following suspected overdose deaths especially when the drugs are stamped with telling names.

A private funeral for relatives and close friends of Hoffman is set for Friday, and a larger memorial service will be held later this month, his publicist Karen Samfilippo said.

On Wednesday night, Broadway theaters dimmed their lights in memory of the Tony Award-nominated actor, and members of the theater community held a candlelight vigil for him.

___

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.
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