Saturday, 2 January 2010

Lord of the Rings Actors and Charade with Hepburn

13.45 April 5th 2008. There is a sense of anti climax as I come to write for the last in the series of the Lord of the Rings, with one DVD of extras still to experienced. The feeling concerns what I have left to say so I decided to take a look at the actors and the what has been happening to their personal lives and careers. Have they had their fill of media attention and public adoration. Did the offers for more films or theatre shows pour in? How did the success affect off screen lives? Because the viewing and writing has stretched over two weeks, thus my priorities action list has lengthened but this does not cause regret. I have had a good lunch and because of my mood I enjoyed a midday glass of red wine and peanuts, then prawn salad with olives, a banana and coffee. It is not as warm as yesterday but the promised poor weather has not arrived.

14.00 There is a showing of the film Charade with Cary Grant and the beautiful Audrey Hepburn, a film also featured Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy. I did not remember the film titles which are colourful and very sixties. Nor did I immediate remember the opening sequence where Audrey wears fashionable black with a gun pointed at her, a child’s water pistol. To day of course the child would have been shot by a police sniper. This is not intended to be as flippant as it sounds. In the film she plays a sophisticated young woman who lives the highlife having married a man of wealth with no relatives or known friends and no occupation or explanation to explain his wealth. The most despicable aspect of this enjoyable film is when the cigarette manufacturers arranged to insert a line where Audrey breaks off the filter tip "because it is like drinking coffee through a veil." A bit like the Nazi’s advising concentration camp victims they were going on their holidays. Those responsible including all manufactures of cigarettes should be charged with conspiracy to murder and made to spend the rest of their days smoking the whatever stock is impounded. I used to annoy the pretty women at who came round giving away free samples of cigarettes at cricket matches by asking why they had taken a job encouraging people to have a slow and painful death. which upset some who claimed they were only doing their job. Now where have we heard that one before?

15.00. Audrey Hepburn had colourful life off screen as many of the film characters which ranged from the Cigarette girl in Laughter in Paradise to the Lavender Hill, Gigi, Roman Holiday, War and Peace, Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon, Mayerling, The Nun’s Story, my birth and care mothers’ favourite, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and My Fair Lady. She was born Audrey Kathleen van Heesmtra Rushton in Belgium, the daughter of an Englishman and a Dutch aristocrat who was the daughter of the former governor of Dutch Guinea. Her father then changed the name to Hepburn Rushton. Her mother had previously been married to a Dutch nobleman. Because of the occupation of the father, the family is said to have travelled with him frequently to England, Belgium and Holland. It is also claimed that both her parents were Nazi sympathizer’s and according to Unity Mitford, her father was a member of the British Union of Fascists. When her parents were divorced in 1935 she was sent to a boarding school for girls in Kent where she remained until 1938, when her mother chose to live with her parent’s home at Arnhem and to drop the English part of their name. Her father found refuge in Dublin and later she made contact with him and is said to have provided him with financial support. She is said to have broken off her first engagement after the date was set and wedding dress was fitted. She then married the actor Mel Ferrer who she met at a party hosted by Gregory Peck. She had two children by him and experienced several miscarriages. She also broke her back after falling off a horse. The couple found family life and being Hollywood super stars, difficult and she is said to have had a relationship with Albert Finney. She then married an Italian Psychiatrist and this marriage also lasted a decade although is reputed to have had several affairs. At the time of her death she is said to have been involved with the widower of Merle Oberon. Perhaps the most interesting piece of information about her life is that she also sang happy birthday Mr President, to Jack Kennedy. Oddly there is no reference to her marriages on what is claimed to be her official internet site, but mention is made to a friendship with Hubert de Givenchy which commenced in 1953 when she was 24 and lasted to her death from cancer in 1993, aged 63. at her home in Switzerland. The cancer was abdominal, not lung.
16.00. The contrast between screen giants such as Audrey Hepburn and celebrities today is that few have the same level of ability or make the same level of contribution to society in other ways. However, this was not the situation of those who performed in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some like Sean Bean and Viggo Mortessen already mentioned were already established and have continued to undertake acting roles of greater significance. Orlando Bloom who has also been covered fulfilled the promise indicated in the trilogy while Elijah Wood appears to have accepted that his on screen personna may have a limited future by undertaking other enterprisers.

16.30 For me the most unsung hero of the trilogy was Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gangee. Sam was also part of a Hollywood family as his mother was Patty Duke. His paternity was the subject of controversy as for a time he was believed to have been Desi Arnaz Jnr but has since been confirmed as music promoter and writer first husband of Patty, who then married actor John Astin, whose surname Sam bears. Sam is a well educated man, now in his late thirties, having graduated with honours from UCLA in American Literature and Culture. He recently appeared in Terry Prachett’s Colour of Magic with Sir David Jason and Christopher Lee. He is married to a former Miss Teen USA and they have three daughters. He has been supporting Hilary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign

17.00 I have a very special place also for Dominic Monaghan (Merry)who I first knew from his performances over four years assisting Hetty Wainthorpe investigates, and then more recently because he played Charlie in Lost, giving up his life to save the others. He was born in Berlin and speaks German but English is his first language, moving to Stockport where he attended Catholic Schools and colleges and where his uncle was head of St Annes. Like Sean Astin who is a vegetarian, Dominic is an active conservationist and environmentalist. He is known for having had a relationship with a Lost co star which is said to have ended when his character was killed off and he left Honolulu.

17.30 In Lord of the Rings he appears to have developed a special relationship with his Hobbit friend Pippin played by Billy Boyd so it is not surprising that they are now reported to be working together on a script. Billy who comes Scotland was raised by an elder sister and his grandmother after their parents died within a year of each other when he was still a child. He worked for seven years as a book binder before being able to pursue acting full time and one of the books, well I do not need to go on. He composed the song sung in the Return of the King and is lead singer and a song writer for the Band Beefcake. His partner and child have a home in Glasgow although he had become an international actor.

18.00 Another actor whose performance was exceptional except that one can only see the creature created through motion capture and graphic technology, is Andy Serkis who played Gollum, Brought up in Ruislip and educated at Ealing and Lancaster University, Andy’s father is an ethnic Armenian doctor from Iraq. Many, and I am one of them, thought he should have been Oscar nominated and awarded the best supporting acting role for his performance in Lord of the Rings, but others were strongly against because his role is one mainly of voice overs and motion capture He was given a similar role in Peter Jackson’s next film King Kong. He is also going to appear in the Jackson Spielberg films of TinTin, which are to be a trilogy. He is married to an actress, and the family home is in London with their three children.

18.30 The Lord of the Rings can be said to be a Boy’s film, battle scenes, sword fights and monsters, and at one level this is borne out by the fact that while the male actors encamped in New Zealand, the three principal female characters are reported to have flown in and out as required to do their shots. The most familiar in New Zealand and across the North Atlantic was Cate Blanchete the Australian Actor and stage director who won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Elizabeth 1st in 1998. I subsequently saw her in The Talented Mr Ripley, Pushing Tin, An Ideal Husband, The Gift, The Man who Cried, The Shipping News and Charlotte Gray and since the Trilogy, Veronica Guerin The Aviator and Notes of a Scandal My favourite role is that of Katherine Hepburn in the Aviator for which she received the best supporting Oscar in 2004 and although her part was a small one she showed her quality as Galadriel in the Trilogy. She is married to playwright and script writer Matthew Upton and they will shortly have their third child. She lived in Brighton, England for a time but has since returned to live closer to her extended family and the Australian Theatre.

19.00 Sir Ian McKellen is only a couple of months younger than me, and like me he has a vivid memory of sleeping in an air raid shelter. His mother died when he was 12 and his father 24 but his relationship with his step mother was such that he was then able to disclose his sexual orientation to her. He was educated in Bolton from where he won a Scholarship to St Catherine’s, Cambridge. He has always been a theatrical performer foremost in the West End and on Broadway, but has also undertaken film roles from time to times, such as John Profumo in Scandal and James Whale in Gods and Monsters. It was his roles in the in the X Men film series which brought him worldwide popularity, The role of Gandalf seems tailored made for him and since then he appeared in the Da Vinci Code and the Golden Compass. He is bringing King Lear to the screen, (post production) but a film about Cecil Rhodes is on hold.

19.30 Liv Tyler was born in 1977 three years after her mother was Playboy Playmate of the Year, her father is Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith, She appeared in the film Armageddon released on her 21st birthday. This year she is to appear in Incredible Hulk. Liv had a three relationship with Joaquin Phoenix and five years later she married British Musician Royston Langdon and they have one son. Australian Actress Miranda Otto was not a name I knew until the Trilogy although I had seen What Lies Beneath. Since the Trilogy she has appeared in the Flight of the Phoenix and War of the Worlds. She was affected by the tabloid interest in her private life when she formed a relationship with another film actor so that she has taken tough approach since marriage and the birth of a daughter, restricting work activity for her family, but in 2008 she will appear in a new film How to change in 9 weeks.

20.00 One of the most underrated of actors is British born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee who has appeared in over 200 films, the majority of which I have seen. Because he has played one dimensional bad guys he has never been nominated for an Oscar. Born in England, his mother was a beautiful Italian noble lady and his father a professional army officer but after the parents separated the family had a difficult time and when they moved to Switzerland to the home of his aunt. His mother then married a banker and uncle of Ian Fleming. He was educated at Wellington College where he won scholarships volunteering to fight with the Finnish forces against the Soviet union in 1939 without seeing action. He then joined the RAF but was unable to fly because of eye sight problems and commenced to work in intelligence in North Africa, Sicily and through Italy. He was mentioned by Special Operations and then made his screen debut in the Gothic film Corridors of Mirrors 1946 what I have seen and over the next decade he featured as stock characters in 30 films including holding a spear in Julius Caesar. In 1957 he made the first Hammer horror with Peter Cushing and became known for his Count Dracula roles but as British Cinema and Hollywood changed he also diversified with a memorable role in the original cult film, The Wicker Man, as Scaramanga in the Man with the Golden Gun and Count Dooku in Star Wars. His private life remains private.

20.30 Ian Holm the British Actor who played Bilbo Baggins is now in his later 70’s and in remission from prostate cancer. His professional background commenced in the theatre, making a reputation with the Royal Shakespeare Company but then quickly established himself as a major screen actor commencing the Bofors Gun in 1968 which won a Bafta for best support actor, Oh What A Lovely War. The Homecoming (C P Snow’s book) Young Winston, Jesus of Nazareth, Holocaust, All Quiet on the Western Front, Chariots of Fire, Inside the Third Reich, Brazil, Henry V Hamlet, Kafka, Animal Farm. And since the trilogy, The Day After Tomorrow, the Aviator, Garden State, and most recently Ratatouille
21.00 The result show of the X Factor confirmed two of my three predictions with Ramielle Mumba receiving the smallest public vote. However Jason Castro was not in the bottom three but Brooke White was.

22.00 I then watched a 1980 stereotyped film for TV about the violent wing of the Black Power movement, The Black Liberation Army who ruthlessly execute two New York cops because they are cops and then steal their guns as badges to recruit more young blacks to the cause. This is a long film of some two hours, much of it in the court room or collating evidence and persuading witnesses for the first of two trials which goes through cliché after cliché before justice is done. I suspect the film is being shown now so that viewers will substitute Middle Eastern sponsored terrorists for the B.L.A.

00.00 I did not go to bed until 2 am after checking myspace with an amusing exchange of communication which I will lead until tomorrow.

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