Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Getting to Know Michelle Rodriguez

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Getting to Know Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez is about to return to the screen this week in "Fast and Furious." Today IGN.com profiles her before the movie opens.

Rodriguez grew up in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and New Jersey, which is where she developed her "tough girl" persona that would serve her in her movies.

She said she developed it because of the tough environments in which she would find herself.

That persona served her well in her first big break in "Girlfight" in 2000. She got recognition from the National Board of Review and the Independent Spirit Awards.

From there she went on to costar in "The Fast and the Furious," followed by "Resident Evil." After that, in an effort to keep from typecasting, she appeared in "Blue Crush."

She also provided voices for a number of action videogames, still playing tough girls, before appearing in "S.W.A.T." with Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell playing a police officer.

She was in "Control" with Ray Liotta and "BloodRayne" before starring for a year on the hit show "Lost" as tailie Ana Lucia.

The role brought her a lot of visibility, though fans of the show generally didn't like the character. The character died after a season, but she still appears on the show occasionally.

After that, she appeared in "Battle in Seattle" with Charlize Theron, where she almost bumped into Gina Wilhelm Actress on the sidewalk. It turns out she's shorter than Gina Wilhelm Actress.

Rodriguez now has her own production company, which is producing a movie called "Tropico de Sang" being filmed in Dominican Republic. The film stars Rodriguez.

She wants to write and direct and is reportedly working on writing a children's movie.

In addition to her return to her role as Letty in "Fast and Furious," she is also set to appear in "Avatar," James Cameron's return to feature films after several years.

Cameron said he had wanted to work with Rodriguez since he first saw her in "Girlfight."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lisa Ray's Journey to Acting

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Lisa Ray's Journey to Acting

Lisa Ray didn't set out to be an actress. Originally the star of Deepa Mehta's "Water" had set out to be a journalist.

She said she was more inclined to write because she is an introvert.

She first got into modelling after she finished high school in Canada. She moved to India to increase her opportunities.

She was noticed by Indian filmmakers in a print advertisement.

Ray is of Polish and Indian heritage, which she has found to be both an asset and a drawback. She says she doesn't feel stereotyped.

At the same time, she sometimes hears that she doesn't look "Indian enough" for certain roles.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rashida Jones Acting Defiant

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Rashida Jones Acting Defiant

Rashida Jones very nearly didn't become an actress.

The star of "I Love You, Man" and NBC's new "Parks and Recreation" had originally planned to study law as an act of defiance against her show-business parents, Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton.

However, she took a few acting classes while at Harvard and wound up falling in love. She decided she should give acting a real try.

She has appeared in dramatic roles, but lately most ofher work has been comic.

In "I Love You, Man," "Parks and Recreation," and her recurring role last season on "The Office," she got to do a lot of improvisational comedy.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

June Brown's BAFTA Nomination

Gina Wilhelm Actress - June Brown's BAFTA Nomination

June Brown was nominated for a BAFTA for her performance in EastEnders.

She was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for an episode in which her character, Dot Cotton, records a 30-minute message for her ill husband.

The episode is unusual in that it consisted entirely of her monologue.

This is the first BAFTA nomination for Brown, who is 82 years old. She first appeared on the show in its first season in 1985.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Anne Hathaway to Play Judy Garland

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Anne Hathaway to Play Judy Garland

Anne Hathaway has been cast to star on stage and screen as Judy Garland.

The star of "Rachel Getting Married" will be in the adaptation of Gerald Clarke's "Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows."

Clarke wrote the biography that was the basis for the film "Capote."

Both the stage and film versions will be produced by the Weinstein Company.

Garland never appeared in a Broadway musical, though she did win an honorary Tony for her contribution to the revival of vaudeville.

Hathaway has also never appeared on Broadway, though she appeared in a concert version of "Carnival" opposite Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell.

This summer she will appear in Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park production of "Twelfth Night," which will appear in New York's Central Park.

It's unclear at this point whether Hathaway will do her own singing.

Clarke's book is based in part on an unfinished autobiography written by Garland.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Virginia Madsen Wouldn't Give Up

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Virginia Madsen Wouldn't Give Up

Struggling as an actress (and single mother) over 40, Virginia Madsen heard some people tell her she was done working.

Despite that, she never considered leaving acting. "It's part of my soul," she explained.

She worried about losing her house, but she stuck with it.

It finally paid off when she got into "Sideways" in 2004, receiving a best supporting actress nomination for her performance there.

Since then, she's been making up for the time she lost during the early part of her career. After "Sideways," she was immediately approached by Robert Altman for a part in "A Prairie Home Companion."

She's currently appearing in "The Haunting in Connecticut" and will soon be in "Amelia," a biography of Amelia Earhart starring Hillary Swank and featuring Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor.

Although there were times when she feared her career was over, but clearly hanging on has really paid off for her.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tina Louise Promotes Reading

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Tina Louise Promotes Reading

When Morgan Merkler ran for student body president, the 9-year-old promised to promote reading.

On March 18th, she delivered, having Tina Louise visit John F. Kennedy Elementary School in South Plainfield, NJ, to read and sign copies of her children's book "When I Grow Up."

The "Gilligan's Island" star also talked about what it's like to be an actress, and what it takes to do certain jobs.

She told the students that reading is "about one of the best things you can do."

Merkler saw Ms. Louise at a book signing in 2007. After she won the election, she wrote letters to a number of authors, including Louise.

Louise called the student's house, surprising her mother. And her principal.

Students and teachers were both excited to have the actress visit their school.

Louise gave the students an opportunity to ask questions. They wanted to know what it's like to be famous.

"Well, you can get a good seat at a restaurant," she told them.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Remembering Natasha Richardson

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Remembering Natasha Richardson

Natasha Richardson passed away on Wednesday at the age of 45 after a skiing accident.

Ms. Richardson had a widely varied career, splitting time between stage and screen. She won a Tony for her performance as Sally Bowles in the 1998 revival of "Cabaret."

She was also in the stage version of "Closer" and the 2005 revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire," where she played opposite Jon C. Reilly.

She made her stage debut in Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" in 1993, in which she met her husband, Liam Neeson.

On film, she notably played the title character in "Patty Hearst."

She also appeared in "The Handmaid's Tale," "Nell," the remake of "The Parent Trap," and "The Comfort of Strangers."

Richardson comes from a long line of thespians. Her mother is Vanessa Redgrave and her father Tony Richardson. Her aunt is Lynn Redgrave and her sister is Joely Richardson.

Entertainment Weekly.com posted a list of 17 key roles for Ms. Richardson from both stage and screen.

Natasha Richardson will be greatly missed by the acting world.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jaime Pressly is Sexy AND Funny

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Jaime Pressly is Sexy AND Funny

For years, Jaime Pressly was told she couldn't be funny-she was too sexy and pretty. She now has an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Emmy that says otherwise.

However, now that she has that award, (along with her success on "My Name is Earl" and a scene-stealing role in "I Love You, Man") people are saying she's too funny to be sexy.

Pressly says she actually doesn't mind that as much. She says comedy is her first love.

She started in gymnastics before becoming a model and finally an actress, but most of her roles were small and involved being some sort of "sex bomb."

It wasn't until Greg Garcia, the creator of "My Name is Earl" that someone finally gave her a chance to be funny.

Pressly says she believes comedy is genetic, and her family is very funny.

She said that filming "I Love You, Man" was more like partying than working. So much of it was improvised that she doesn't remember now which parts were scripted and which weren't.

Pressly also wrote a book, "It's Not Necessarily Not the Truth: Dreaming Bigger than the Town You're From," which came out on Monday.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Monday, March 16, 2009

Penelope Cruz to Change her Look

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Penelope Cruz to Change her Look

Penélope Cruz's next project will be Pedro Almodovar's "Los Abrazos Rotos."
Almodovar directed Cruz in "Volver," for which she received a Best Actress nomination.

Almodovar wants to be careful not to repeat any of Cruz's earlier hairstyles. He says he really enjoys "reinventing her."

To that end, he's having the Spanish actress go blonde.

However, she won't dye her hair. Instead, she'll wear a wig.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Julianna Margulies Can't Count on This Emmy

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Julianna Margulies Can't Count on This Emmy

In her first season on "ER," Julianna Margulies received a best supporting actress Emmy.

Although she (and, at some point during the season, all other actors from the first season of the show) was in this week's episode, she won't be eligible for a guest star Emmy.

The rules for the Emmys state that guest stars must be credited as such. Margulies (as well as Noah Wylie, George Clooney, and Eriq LaSalle) were credited along with the rest of the cast regulars.

By contrast, Susan Sarandon was credited as making a "special appearance," while Ernest Borgnine was listed as a "special guest star."

Margulies is the only series regular ever to have won a performance Emmy, though the series itself has won a number of awards.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, March 13, 2009

Singing Badly On Purpose

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Singing Badly On Purpose

Neva Rae Powers is an excellent singer with a terrific resume: Anna in "The King and I," Dorothy Brock in "42nd Street," Aunt March in "Little Women."

You won't know that, however, from her performance in "Souvenir," which opened Friday in the Studio Theatre at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

In that play, she portrays Florence Foster Jenkins, a socialite who believed she had a beautiful singing voice. Jenkins was sadly mistaken.

The wealthy woman was her own producer, booking agent, and costume designer.

Powers finds the role a challenge. She has to take her extensive training and "warp" it, distorting vowels and intentionally singing above or below pitch.

She also draws inspiration from memories of her late husband's worst voice students.

Powers enjoys the irony of having spent an entire career training just so she can sing poorly now.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Acting is a Family Affair

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Acting is a Family Affair

Rosa Nevin put acting on the back burner several years ago to raise her children. Now she's back, and her daughter is in tow.

Rosa, who was a star in "All My Children" for five years, is about to open Neil Simon's "Rumors" in Deerfield, IL.

Her husband, Jerry, will be in "Enter Laughing" in April.

Their daughter Samantha, for whom Rosa left full-time acting, is about to play the lead in "The Elves and the Shoemaker" at Glenview Children's Theatre.

Rosa says she has Samantha help her with her lines, and then Samantha has Rosa return the favor.

Rosa says she and Jerry tried to keep their daughters away from acting, but then a friend of Samantha's got interested in theatre, and then the daughter got "hooked."

It's an interesting transition for Rosa. Some days several people recognize her from the soap opera, and some days, she's "just" the mom to her daughters.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jane Fonda Could Add a Tony to Her Collection

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Jane Fonda Could Add a Tony to Her Collection

Jane Fonda has made a triumphant return to acting, but this time, she's on stage.

Fonda has made a big hit in Moises Kaufman's "33 Variations." The play opened Monday with raves for her performance.

The LA Times is predicting that she could win a Tony for this show. This would be particularly notable, as she already has Oscar awards for "Klute" and "Coming Home" and an Emmy for "The Dollmaker."

The play is about a woman trying to unlock the mystery of Beethoven's composition by the same name.

This show marks Fonda's return to the stage after a 46-year absence. She was nominated for a Tony for that performance, a two-week run in "There Was a Little Girl."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Emily Blunt is a Busy Woman

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Emily Blunt is a Busy Woman

Earlier in this blog, it was reported that Emily Blunt would not be appearing in Iron Man 2. That does not mean she's lacking work. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Her next movie is "Sunshine Cleaning," which opens next Friday. It also stars Amy Adams and Alan Arkin. Blunt plays Adams' sister.

The movie is about two sisters who, haunted by the death of their mother, run a crime cleaning service. The film isn't the downer it sounds like, though.

The producer of the movie said Blunt was cast for the humor she could bring to the role.

Blunt was recently seen in "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Charlie Wilson's War." Later this year she'll appear in "The Great Buck Howard," "The Young Victoria," and the remake of "The Wolf Man."

Blunt says that she likes to choose parts that are "a bit left of center and different from the one I played previously."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Saturday, March 7, 2009

JoMarie Payton Got By With a Little Help From Her Friends

Gina Wilhelm Actress - JoMarie Payton Got By With a Little Help From Her Friends

JoMarie Payton has been acting since she was 6 years old playing the lead in a school production of "Little Red Riding Hood."

She's been working since then, notably playing the matriarch on the ABC comedy "Family Matters" and voicing the character Suga Mama on Disney's "The Proud Family."

Every step of the way, she's had a lot of support.

When she was in "Little Red Riding Hood," she had the chicken pox. Her teacher drove her to the show and immediately home afterwards. That teacher still remembers what a good student Payton was.

In high school, she starred in the school production of "A Raisin in the Sun," where she won a theater award that allowed her to study acting at the University of Miami and Miami Dade College.

She was reluctant to audition for a traveling show starring Robert Guillaume. She didn't want to leave her mother alone in Florida.

However, her teachers, her siblings, and even her mother urged her to take the step. All her teachers were present at the audition. And she landed the role.

The tour brought her to Los Angeles, which is where she got the role of Hariette Winslow on "Perfect Strangers," which then spun off to "Family Matters." She played that part for nine years.

Payton declares that the stage is her first passion, but above all, she says she's a people person.

She's clearly got a lot of people on her side.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, March 6, 2009

Actress Explores her Dark Side

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Actress Explores her Dark Side

Apollonia Vanova spends a lot of time being the bad guy. She says she usually plays an assassin or evil queen.

Starting today, you can see her in "Watchmen" being dark, but not the bad guy.

This time out, she plays Silhouette, who, at least in the graphic novel is a member of the Minutemen, a precursor to the Watchmen.

Vanova reveals to the Vancouver Sun that she enjoys playing the villain because they get to do whatever they want, not just what society expects.

She calls it "safe, but evil."

Vanova has come a long way from pretending to be a princess as a girl in Slovakia.

Given her new exposure in what is poised to be the first event movie of 2009, she will probably go a lot further.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Felicity Huffman Balances Work and Motherhood

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Felicity Huffman Balances Work and Motherhood

Felicity Huffman is surprised to find herself the "patron saint of mothers".

She finds herself struggling with it in real life, even as her characters in films and on television do the same.

In her latest movie, "Phoebe in Wonderland," she finds herself in the same position, this time as the mother two a very troubled child who is only at ease when lost in her imagination or acting in the school play.

The movie's writer-director, Daniel Barz, finds Huffman's public candor about her struggles with parenting amazing.

In fact, a monologue for her character about the highs and lows of being a parent came directly out of conversations he had with her.
"Phoebe in Wonderland" premiered at Sundance in 2008 and opens in theaters Friday, March 6, 2009.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writing is a Family Affair

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Writing is a Family Affair

Zoe Kazan is one of the youngest playwrights ever to have a play produced at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

This isn't that surprising; her grandfather is Elia Kazan, writer of "On the Waterfront." Her parents are both Oscar-nominated screenwriters.

Her father, Nicholas Kazan, also had a play produced at Actors Theatre. They are the only father and daughter to have had shows produced there.

The play, "Absalom," is her first. The director, Giovanna Sardelli, was so impressed by the script, she assumed it was written by a 40-year-old man, not a 25-year-old.

This caps off a big year for Ms. Kazan, who made her Broadway debut in January 2008 in "Come Back, Little Sheba."

She's also appeared in "The Seagull" on Broadway with Cynthia Nixon and Peter Sarsgaard this year.

On film, she appeared in "The Savages" with Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman and "The Valley of Elah" with Tommy Lee Jones.

She also had a pivotal role in "Revolutionary Road" as a woman who has an affair with Leonardo DiCaprio's character.

She was involved in the casting of "Absalom," which gave her insight into her own acting auditions.

Choosing others for roles, she realized that an actor may just not be the right person for a role. "It isn't a failing not to be chosen."

After the Festival, Kazan will visit with family before returning to film acting. She admits, however, that she has caught the playwriting bug.

Sardelli, her director, is impressed by Kazan's maturity. It's clear she has a bright future ahead of her.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Angela Bassett To Direct

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Angela Bassett To Direct

Angela Bassett is set to make her directorial debut on the film "United States." She will be co-producing it with her husband, Courtney B. Vance.

The independent feature is based on the novel "Erasure" by Percival Everett and is being described as a dramatic comedy.

In addition to this being Bassett's directing debut, this will also be the first film produced by Bassett/Vance Prods.

The adaptation is written by Dwayne Johnson-Cochran and concerns an author who writes a faux autobiography.

Until she helms "United States," Bassett can still be seen weekly on "ER" and, as mentioned previously in this blog, recently appeared in "Notorious."

Gina Wilhelm Actress