Sunday, May 31, 2009

Imogen Stubbs Thinks About Vacation

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Imogen Stubbs Thinks About Vacation

Imogen Stubbs, the British actress who starred in "Twelfth Night," "Nanou," and "Stories of Lost Souls," told The Daily Mail about her favorite places to take vacations.

Her favorite place to travel was Chile because there wasn't any malaria or poisonous snakes. Oh, also she liked the food and the people.

She said she would recommend going to Patagonia and riding into the Andes. She suggests swimming in hot springs, seeing flamingoes, or hiking to volcanic lakes.

She says she feels most at home in Alaska. She calls it an "insane state full of eccentrics, extreme animals, and dangerous weather."

She suggests a lodge called "Ultima Thule," which means "remote beyond reckoning." She says it more than lives up to its name.

Her earliest travel memory is a trip to Yugoslavia with her parents as a small girl. The parents had gotten halfway down a motorway before realizing they had left her behind.

They got back to the campsite and found her still asleep in her sleeping bag.

Her ideal travel companion is fellow actress Serena Gordon, who she says is "funny, delightful, and brave."

She won't travel without extra batteries, a headlight, and a pashmina scarf.

She's currently on tour with the show "Alphabetical Order," so right now that dictates where she travels.

Her next "trip" with that show will be to Bath, Malvern, and Oxford. And then maybe Argentina after that.

She likes to travel because it allows her to rethink her outlook on life.

-Gina Wilhelm Actress

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Edie Falco, No Longer a Soprano

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Edie Falco, No Longer a Soprano

Edie Falco rose to prominence on HBO's "The Sopranos," playing Carmela Soprano for eight years and winning three Emmys in the process.

Now she can be seen playing the title character on Showtime's "Nurse Jackie." Falco says the characters couldn't be more different.

Carmela was long-suffering. Jackie, on the other hand, is a self-styled vigilante with a pill habit.

She explains that Jackie is willing to go to any length to get what she wants, even if it means breaking the law, stepping on other people, or flushing a patient's ear down the toilet.

Falco was able to relate to Jackie's addiction. She's a recovering alcoholic who is 17 years sober.

The single mother of two had a lot of struggles before she suddenly hit it really big on "The Sopranos."

She was inspired to act by her mother's work in community theater. After studying acting at the State University of New York at Purchase, her early struggling years turned into more than a decade of work.

She kept waiting for her big break, but she never gave up on acting. She says until the '90s, she was always "one step above homelessness."

She says the constant money worries of that time were far more harrowing for her than getting sober or her bout with breast cancer.

The only "day job" she could take was waitressing. However, she gave up on waitressing when she gave up drinking.

After getting to play a number of recurring roles in a number of different shows as well as an extra role that grew into a speaking role in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway," she finally got her break.

It very nearly didn't happen, though. She had been cast in a television series based on the movie "Fargo" with her playing Police Chief Marge Gunderson, the part Frances McDormand played in the film.

She had thought that would be her big break. Marge Gunderson had earned McDormand an Oscar, and the series was directed by Kathy Bates.

When the pilot didn't get picked up, Falco was devastated. On the other hand, if she had done that series, she wouldn't have been available to do "The Sopranos."

The experience has caused her to be more philosophic. "That taught me to sit back and let things happen the way they're supposed to."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, May 29, 2009

Being an Actress Without a Stage

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Being an Actress Without a Stage

Earlier this month I profiled some of the actresses appearing in the Boston production of "Grey Gardens."

Today "The Bulletin" looks at the Philadelphia production.

Actress Hollis Resnik takes on the dual role of Big Edie in the first act and the older Little Edie in the second.

In the first act, Little Edie is played by Kim Carson. In the second, Big Edie is played by Joy Franz.

Reviewer Lindsay Warner says that Resnik gives a masterful portrayal of "trapped desperation."

At one point, Major Bouvier calls Edith "that most pitiable of creatures: an actress without a stage."

The women of this cast do a masterful job of bringing those creatures out into the light, according to Warner.

The first act works better than the second, particularly an engagement party for Little Edie, which Big Edie takes over, singing concert pieces and overshadowing her daughter.

The script works best when songs are used this way, to accompany the story rather than to enhance it.

The treatment of the true story of the Beales, cousin and aunt to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, feels "trivialized," according to Warner.

She says the performances are excellent, as is the production itself, but the script is problematic.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Emily Blunt Receives BAFTA Award

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Emily Blunt Receives BAFTA Award

Emily Blunt will be named as British Star of the Year at the 2009 BAFTA/LA Brittania Awards.

Blunt has already been mentioned twice in this blog. First it was reported that she would not be appearing in "Iron Man 2" because she was working on "Gulliver's Travels" with Jack Black.

She was also seen recently in "Sunshine Cleaning" with Amy Adams and Alan Arkin.

In addition to "Gulliver's Travels," she'll also be appearing in "The Young Victoria," which was released in the United Kingdom in March.

She'll also be seen in the remake of "The Wolf Man" with Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro.

She's no stranger to awards and nominations, having won the award Most Promising Newcomer at the 2004 Evening Standard Film Awards for "My Summer of Love."

She was nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards in 2004 as well.

Her role in "The Devil Wears Prada" got her a number of nominations. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

She also got BAFTA nominations for that film, both for supporting actress and the rising star award.

Congratulations to Emily Blunt!

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Israeli Actress is Fair Game

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Israeli Actress is Fair Game

Liraz Charhi is a young Israeli actress who just got her first American acting role.

So far she's mostly been seen in Israeli television shows and a hit movie in Israel. However, she just got cast in the American film "Fair Game."

The movie is the story of CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose identity was revealed by a member of the Bush administration.

Charhi will play Sawsan, an Iraqi doctor living in Cleveland asked by Plame to go undercover in Baghdad.

Filming has been going on for some time in New York, but has just moved to the Middle East.

It's unknown where her scenes will be filmed, but it's a good bet that they won't actually be in Baghdad.

The movie stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn (as Sen. Joe Wilson[!]). Not bad for just her fifth major role!

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Monday, May 25, 2009

Donna Reed, Pinup Girl

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Donna Reed, Pinup Girl

During World War II, GIs would write to their favorite female stars asking for photos. The US military encouraged the pinup phenomenon as a way to improve morale.

Usually these letters were answered by the movie studios with a picture of the star in a saucy pose.

However, when a soldier wrote to Donna Reed, she wrote back personally.

The men who wrote to her thought of her as the "archetypical sweetheart, wife, and mother," according to Jay Fultz, author of "In Search of Donna Reed."

Because she was closer in age to the average soldier, they tended to write to her like a sister or girl next door.

They would tell her about homesickness, loneliness, and anxiety.

One sargeant said that his unit thought of her as "a typical American girl, someone who we would like to come home to!!!!!"

Another sargeant wanted her "to be the girl back home that I am fighting for."

Reed kept all the letters she received. They've been released by her children, and they provide a window to the past.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Quick Change for Forrest Richards

Gina Wilhelm Actress - A Quick Change for Forrest Richards

Actress Forrest Richards has put shows together in a week for summer stock and dinner theatre.

In spite of that, she was completely unprepared when she was chosen to replace an actress in a two-woman show two weeks before opening.

With three days before the first preview, the director, artistic director, and original actress decided "Black Pearl Sings" should have a change.

Richards found she had to learn the part in an entirely new way. Ordinarily she likes to get the script two to three weeks before rehearsals even start.

She likes to spend that time working out who her character is in private. Instead, she had to do that in rehearsals, and then in front of preview audiences.

And while she prefers to develop her character from the inside out, in this case, she was forced to learn her from the outside in.

In spite of her nervousness, she said the preview audiences were actually quite supportive.

Her costar in the piece, Alice Gatling, calls Richards "my unsung hero...I didn’t realize how stressed and worried I was until she came in and hit that role.”

Gatling was reprising her role from the world premiere. She says her performance has grown partly because she'd done it before, but partly because of her work with Richards.

Director Kate Alexander agrees. Because of the short time, she calls what they had to do "directing by bombardment."

She said she had to toss out suggestions she wouldn't ordinarily. Even so, Richards kept making new discoveries, which in turn would fuel Gatling's excitement.

Playwrite Frank Higgins came out and saw the play last weekend and was very complimentary.

“Forrest is probably still making discoveries,” he said. “What’s nice about that is if someone is continuing to make discoveries, it alters little nuances so the other actor is going to grow as well.”

Gatling agrees, saying that her character, Pearl, is more real to her this time around.

While Richards isn't surprised she's been able to succeed at this -- she has plenty of self-confidence -- she says it's nice to be able to look at her performance and say "Guess what, I can do this.”

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Actress Take a Serious Turn

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Actress Take a Serious Turn

When Carrie Preston was cast as Arlene Fowler in HBO's "True Blood," she knew she was there to provide the comic relief.

For the entire first season of the vampire series, she did that masterfully, but come the season finale, all that changed.

Much of the first season, in addition to dealing with vampire blood lust, shape-shifting, and the like, was a murder mystery.

Preston's character was a key plotpoint, which led to an emotional moment for the actress.

She was pleased to bring the "gravitas" to the situation. The second season has given her a lot more drama to work with.

Preston says she is working hard to "the tragedy that comes in humor and the humor that is in tragedy."

She's no stranger to comic and quirky parts. She's appeared in shows like "Wonderfalls" and "Arrested Development."

She also played the mother of Benjamin Linus, played by Michael Emerson on "Lost." The role was her idea.

Emerson is Preston's husband. She likes that her guest spot was so closely connected to her husband's character.

There's not a lot of sharing in the Preston-Emerson household, though. More specifically, Emerson enjoys hearing "spoilers" from "True Blood."

Preston doesn't want to hear any details from "Lost" before they're revealed on the show.

Preston also likes how different her character on "True Blood" is from herself. She said when Emerson came to the set, he couldn't stop staring at her in makeup.

"I think Michael has a little crush on Arlene," she says.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, May 22, 2009

A New Twist on the Period Drama

Gina Wilhelm Actress - A New Twist on the Period Drama

Jessica Biel has done several action roles, notably "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Cellular."

So when she got her role in the period piece "Easy Virtue," she had to study, mainly watching Katharine Hepburn and Jean Harlow.

Even with the study, she was still nervous going into the film. She was the only American in the movie, which also stars Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Firth says she needn't have worried. He found her enchanting, and said that "The entire crew was reduced to poor saps."

In the movie, she plays a blond bombshell race car driver.

The entire movie should be a departure from the standard period piece. It's being directed by Stephan Elliott, who helmed "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jane Lynch Breaks All the Rules

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Jane Lynch Breaks All the Rules

Jane Lynch ran away from her first acting job. "I was so afraid of failing that I just walked away from it and joined the tennis team."

Now she regularly does the sort of work that many actors would find daunting.

A veteran of the Chicago's Second City touring improvisational group, she frequently stars in projects that are partially or largely improvised.

These projects include Christopher Guest's movies like "Best In Show," where she got her first really big break, and "A Mighty Wind."

She's also a regular in Judd Apatow's movies, such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," where she played a role originally written for a man, and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story."

Despite this, she admits that many of her choices were, in fact, driven by fear.

In spite of her love of acting, she began as a mass communications major before finally transferring into a theater program.

She didn't decide to move to LA until most of her friends had already gone there.

She breaks a lot of the traditional rules for acting and comedy. She thrives in the mostly male comedy world, she didn't make her big break until she was 40, and she's always been open about her sexual orientation.

She only just recently has started turning down work. "That part of it is brand-new to me," she said. "When you're a struggling actor, the mentality is, 'Just take it.' "

Her resume reflects that. IMDb lists 126 credits for her.

She has been starring in "Party Down" on Starz, which follows the lives of actors moonlighting as catering waiters.

However, her career is so busy right now, she's not sure she'll be able to make it for the next season.

In the meantime, she was just seen tonight as a hard-as-nails cheerleading coach on the premiere of Fox's "Glee."

This summer she'll also be seen in the movies "Post Grad" and "Julie & Julia."

No matter what project she chooses next, one thing is for sure: Jane Lynch will be doing it her way and doing great.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Amy Adams has Range

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Amy Adams has Range

Amy Adams is having a big year. Within the last 12 months, she's been a nun, a crime-scene cleaner, she's soon to be in a Julia Child biopic, and next week she'll be playing Amelia Earhart.

Better yet, her coworkers can't say enough good things about her.

Shawn Levy, who directed her performance as Earhart in "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," says he doesn't think there's a better actress in her generation.

Her castmates are similarly effusive. Ben Stiller said she couldn't have been better.

Meryl Streep, her costar in both "Doubt" and the upcoming "Julie & Julia" (the Julia Child biopic) calls Adams "the real thing."

For her part, Adams is very modest. Of Levy's remarks, she said "Awww, he's the best." She called him "amazing to work with."

Although she started out in fringe movies and TV before making a big splash in "Junebug." She followed that up starring in "Enchanted."

After playing two sweeter-than-sweet characters, she could have found herself typecast, but instead, she followed that with "Doubt."

In "Smithsonian," she finds herself in a sassier role-Levy describes her part as "Amelia Earhart, by way of Katharine Hepburn."

Adams says the saucier role fits her own personality better than the sweet and saintly roles that have marked the other movies.

Maybe so, but she plays all of them beautifully.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Little Monkey Business

Gina Wilhelm Actress - A Little Monkey Business

Being a 5-year-old is hard. There are rapid shifts in mood, a blossoming awareness of what's going on around you.

And then, you have to deal with the arrival of a new "dumb baby."

It's even harder to be an adult playing a 5-year-old. It could descend into a bunch of tics and condescension.

But not when Bethany Anne Lind plays Junie B. Jones at Synchronicity Performance Group in Atlanta, GA.

She's captured the swinging pelvis, tugging at everything, breaking into verse. Sometimes she speaks in a little growl, sometimes by gesturing emphatically.

The rest of the cast pulls double and triple duty. Director Clint Thornton keeps the show's pacing brisk.

But it's Bethany Anne Lind that makes "Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business" a joy to watch.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cady Huffman, Pirate Wench

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Cady Huffman, Pirate Wench

Cady Huffman is used to playing big, athletic, sexy women. Now she's in Boston playing Ruth in “Pirates! (Or, Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder’d).

The show is a re-imagining of "The Pirates of Penzance." She likens this version of Ruth, a pirate wench, to herself. She's a loud, funny tomboy.

She calls the show "raucous and sexy." It takes place in the Caribbean and centers on a group of cursed pirates who must marry virgins to leave piracy behind.

In addition to rehearsing the play, she was able to film a small part in the movie "The Company Men," which just happened to be shooting in Boston at the same time.

"It was the best luck," she says. She filmed a scene with Ben Affleck and another one with Chris Cooper.

She was also able to catch a Red Sox game with her husband. Rehearsing the play and filming haven't left the couple much time together, but they were able to enjoy the game.

Huffman doesn't do roles that are demeaning or to which she has no connection. She says she likes finding out what makes her characters "tick."

She says that career diversity has always been a goal for her. Looking at her resume, that's obvious.

Most notably winning the Tony for her performance as Ulla in "The Producers," she has also appeared on stage in Bob Fosse's "Big Deal" and the original production of "La Cage Aux Folles."

On television, she's appeared in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "One Life to Live."

On film, she's been in "Romance & Cigarettes," "The Nanny Diaries," and the upcoming movie "Dare."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Judith Ivey Digs into "The Glass Menagerie"

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Judith Ivey Digs into "The Glass Menagerie"

Tony Award-winner Judith Ivey loves the language of "The Glass Menagerie." She says she pulls the play off her shelf two or three times a year to savor Tennessee Williams' work.

The role of Amanda Wingfield, Williams' fictionalized version of his own mother, is one Ivey has always wanted to play, but it isn't a part one steps into lightly. The role is mammoth.

"It's a damn near perfect play," Ivey says.

Whe director Gordon Edelstein asked her last year to set aside some time to play the role at the Long Wharf Theatre of New Haven, CA, she answered "Absolutely!" without a moment's hesitation.

She didn't realize the gig would land in the middle of preproduction for the musical "Vanities," which she will start directing at New York's Second Stage Theatre her last week of the run of "Menagerie."

She says that's just the way the business works.

To prepare for the role, Ivey has been enjoying reading about the life of Williams' mother. She enjoys researching the woman she's about to play.

She also wonders if Williams' distinctive cackling laugh is something he got from the woman.

He described her as "somebody who could suck all of the air out of a room," but he fiercely loved her.

Ivey thinks the role allows for a great deal of interpretation by actress and director. However, she also thinks it's possible to really "destroy" the play with a bad interpretation.

As great and as well written as she finds the show, she also calls it "fragile." She also says one can't overlook the family comedy woven into the obviously tragic elements of Williams' story.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goldie Hawn Honored

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Goldie Hawn Honored

Goldie Hawn hasn't been in a movie since 2002. That doesn't mean she hasn't been keeping busy, though.

The actress created the Hawn Foundation, which helps kids learn how to manage stress and deal with their emotions.

Hawn says she wants to give kids the tools to deal with stress, fear, anger, uncertainty, stress, and sorrow.

She says that kids who have these tools can do better in school and are less likely to be suicidal.

The foundation was developed with help from neuroscientists, educators and researchers. About 12,000 students are taking part in schools across the country.

She wants to fix the schools, but she says "we have to fix our kids."

She recently was in Washington, D.C., to get an award for her work from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Monday, May 11, 2009

Marina Stone Joins Cast of Silver Cord

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Marina Stone Joins Cast of Silver Cord

Marina Stone has signed on to appear in "Silver Cord" alongside Shane West, Ving Rhames, Eric Balfour, and Val Kilmer.

Stone has appeared in "Save the Last Dance 2," "American Pie Presents Beta House," and "Amelia."

She's excited to join the cast, which she characterizes as "phenomenal." The movie is written, produced, and directed by James Ordonez.

The film tells the story of a young man who, separated from the love of his life, tries to reconnect with her by having an out-of-body experience.

However, the silver cord that connects his soul to his body breaks, and he is believed to be dead. His friends have less than 24 hours to save his soul before his body his cremated.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Sunday, May 10, 2009

From Beauty Queen to Bollywood Princess

Gina Wilhelm Actress - From Beauty Queen to Bollywood Princess

Lisa Lazarus was the Miss Universe contestant from Great Britain. Now the Welsh actress is filming in Mumbai.

She says she landed the role when film executives saw her compete in the Miss Universe pageant.

The movie, "Veer," could potentially be the next "Slumdog Millionaire." In it, she plays an English princess caught in the middle of a love triangle.

The other parts of the triangle are the film's stars. The male lead, Salman Khan, is Bollywood's answer to Brad Pitt.

The movie is being called the Indian version of "Gladiator."

Lazarus often has to fly to India at a moment's notice. Plans are frequently changed rapidly.

They'll be filming her final scenes in Bangkok, as filming with captive animals isn't allowed in India. She also has had to do some shooting in Jodhpur and Jaipur.
Jaipur was a huge culture shock for Lazarus. They didn't even have any cars there, and monkeys would come over when they were eating.
One of her gowns weighed 15 kg, and she wound up having to wear it for 10 days of filming. Of a single scene.

Lazarus has already gained quite a bit of fame from her role in the film. She's been in the Middle Eastern version of OK! Magazine.
She also has to have bodyguards. Whenever she goes out, she says, people want to touch her.
She says being a beauty queen helped her achieve the poise needed to play an English princess.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, May 8, 2009

Putting "Grey Gardens" on Stage

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Putting "Grey Gardens" on Stage

There are three actresses playing two women over several decades in the musical "Grey Gardens," which plays at Lyric Stage Company in Boston this month.

The play chronicles the experiences of Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie) and Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (her mother, big Edie), cousin and aunt to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Already this year has seen an HBO movie about the Beales starring Drew Barrymore. This is in addition to the 1975 documentary about them, also titled "Grey Gardens."

The title refers to the women's estate, once staffed with servants, but which in the 70s was completely run-down, without electricity or running water.

All three actresses have done extensive research on the pair.

Leigh Barrett, who plays Big Edie in act I and then Little Edie in act II has the documentary on her iPod. She memorized lines from it to make sure she had the women's cadences down.

She also studied "The Bouviers: Portrait of an American Family" by John H. Davis, Little Edie's cousin.

Aimee Doherty, who plays a young Little Edie in act I with big dreams of becoming an actress, also studied Barrett's performance to make sure she had the other actress's mannerisms.

She says the most challenging part of the show is making sure that the audience believes that the "new" actresses in act II are the same person as in act I, just 30 years later.

Barrett admits, however, that the relationship between mother and daughter confuses her. "It's like they were frozen in time."

Sarah deLima, who plays Big Edie at age 79, says that the genius of the play is that at the end of show, the audience is divided.

On the one hand, they want Little Edie to leave the squalor of Grey Gardens and her mother's oppression and to finally be free.

On the other hand, they want her to be safe with her mother; they are sure she'll never make it out in the world.

Doherty agrees. "The end of this play kills me....Parts of this play are beautiful, and it is a love story between these two women, but it's awfully, awfully sad."

"Grey Gardens" runs May 8 through June 6 at Lyric Stage Company in Boston. Tickets are from from $29 to $54 and can be purchased by calling 617-585-5678.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tilda Swinton's Transformation

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Tilda Swinton's Transformation

Tilda Swinton is frequently known, as she puts it, "an art freak." She usually looks otherworldly, but in her latest film, "Julia," she looks very worldly.

In the movie, she plays a self-destructive alcoholic who kidnaps a tycoon's granson in hopes that the ransom will fix all her problems.

She spends the movie doing odd jobs, having one-night stands, or in a blackout.

She felt that the alcoholics that are usually shown in film are nothing like the drunk people she's known and loved.

Instead, she experienced them as courageous and energetic.

Swinton doesn't drink (alcohol makes her fall asleep), so she had to ask friends about their experiences being drunk.

For the role, she had to gain weight and chain smoke. She also had to be covered in bruises.

She says her character has no boundaries.

The director of the film, Erick Zonka, says Swinton could be described the same thing. He described her as present and bold.

Swinton, for her part, says she isn't afraid of transformation. "That effort to sustain the status quo has never been something I’ve personally been drawn to."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tony Nominee's Pedigree

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Tony Nominee's Pedigree

Karen Olivo received her first Tony nomination yesterday for actress in a featured role in a musical for her portrayal of Anita in "West Side Story."

It's just another accomplishment for this young actress, a former student of the Harrison School for the Arts and alumna of the Theatre Winter Haven in Winter Haven, FL.

Olivo had actually played Anita before, at Theatre Winter Haven. The producing director of that theater group remembers her as "steady, committed, and talented."

She started acting when she was about 13, appearing in a children's production of "The Magician's Nephew."

She actually started acting after her older did it.

She got a $500 scholarship from Theatre Winter Haven for promising high schoolers pursuing a career in the arts.

Since leaving Florida, she has lived in the Bronx for the last 13 years. This is her fourth Broadway play.

She has also been in "Rent," "Brooklyn," and "In the Heights."

"In the Heights" did win a Drama Desk Award for outstanding ensemble performance.

The Tony Awards will be announced June 7 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tony Award Nominations Announced

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Tony Award Nominations Announced

The nominees for the 2009 American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards were announced Tuesday.

Among the nominees for leading actress in a play were Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden for "God of Carnage," Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter for "Mary Stuart," and Jane Fonda for "33 Variations."

Fonda's performance was discussed previously in this blog in March.

Leading actress in a musical nominees were Sutton Foster in "Shrek the Musical," Allison Janney in "9 to 5: The Musical," Alice Ripley in "Next to Normal," and Josefina Scaglione in "West Side Story."

Rounding out the leading actress in a musical nominations is Stockard Channing for "Pal Joey." Her work in that show was discussed in this blog in January.

For best featured actress in a play, the nominees are Hallie Foote in "Dividing the Estate," Jessica Hynes and Amanda Root in "The Norman Conquests," and Marin Ireland in "reasons to be pretty."

Finishing out those nominations is the legendary Angela Lansbury in "Blithe Spirit."

The featured actresses in a musical nominees are Jennifer Damiano for "Next to Normal," Haydn Gwynne and Carole Shelley for "Billy Elliot, The Musical", and Karen Olivo in "West Side Story."

Completing the nominations for featured musical actress is Martha Plimpton in "Pal Joey."

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting To Know Kristen Stewart

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Getting To Know Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is well known now as the star of "Twilight," playing Bella Swan in the movie based on the popular book series.

However, she's been acting for years, and she has TV and film in her blood. Her father has been a stage manager, producer, and director for many FOX television shows.

The 19-year-old got discovered in a school Christmas play at age nine when an agent in the audience was impressed by her performance.

She got her first part at age nine, appearing in the Disney Channel film "Thirteenth Year."

Her first film came two years later, in "The Safety of Objects." In 2002 she had her breakthrough with "Panic Room."

She would later appear in "Catch that Kid," "The Messengers," and "The Cake Eaters." She was also in Sean Penn's "Into the Wild."

Stewart says she likes the uniqueness of the characters in the Twilight books.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Alex Kingston at the Crossroads

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Alex Kingston at the Crossroads

Actress Alex Kingston is probably best known in the U.S. for her work on the TV show "ER." However, she feels that her best acting work has been in Britain.

As the 46-year-old actress gets closer to 50, she finds herself considering more and more returning to England permanently.

When auditioning in the U.S., she says she frequently will hear the she's exactly right for the part, but they "want to go a little younger."

In fact, when she was written off "ER," she said it was because the producers thought she was too old.

She now says that isn't true; it was a flippant remark made when she was devastated about her role ending.

Nonetheless, while she does still get good roles in the States (returning for the final season of "ER" and playing a lawyer on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"), she still gets her most work in the UK.

There, she played Nurse Ratched opposite Christian Slater in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and Mrs. Bennet in the ITV show "Lost in Austen."

She also says she's the right age to be doing Shakespeare, and she just spent five months in a remote Scottish village filming a new drama for BBC1, "Hope Springs."

However, she says, her 8-year-old daughter, who has grown up in the United States, is happy here, so she's reluctant to leave.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gail O'Grady Lives Out Loud

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Gail O'Grady Lives Out Loud

Gail O'Grady has had a 20-year career on both the big and small screens, but she has a freshness to her. She seems like a newcomer.

People thought she was an overnight success when she was on "NYPD Blue" in 1993, but by then she'd already been working in films and TV for six years.

This weekend, people will get a new glimpse of her when she stars in the Hallmark Channel movie "Living Out Loud."

In it, she plays a high school choir teacher diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. The diagnosis turns her life and her family's life upside-down.

However, in the midst of her health crisis, she reconnects with the musical life she had lost, gaining a strength she never knew she had.

O'Grady promises this "isn't your typical warm and fuzzy Hallmark project."

She's pleased with the amount of knowledge she gained about the disease, the treatment, and what victims and families go through with it.

Gina Wilhelm Actress

Friday, May 1, 2009

Actress No Shrinking "Violet"

Gina Wilhelm Actress - Actress No Shrinking "Violet"

Nicole Beharie was still studying at Juilliard when she auditioned for a role in "American Violet." She's in nearly every scene of the new movie--a huge accomplishment for a newcomer.

Originally, Beharie was going to audition for a smaller role. However, she then talked with director Tim Disney and producer Bill Haney.

The producer told her about Regina Kelly, on whom the story has been based. As he told her about the young woman fighting the legal system, Beharie found herself in tears.

"And that's when I became invested in the character," she says.

She felt a huge responsibility playing a real person. She says she did her best to capture Kelly's essence.

Her research included watching hours of interviews conducted by Haney and Disney and representatives of the ACLU, who handled her case.

She wound up sitting next to Kelly at the Telluride Film Festival. They held hands through the whole film. "I think it must have turned out all right from Regina's perspective," Beharie says.

She says Kelly calls her all the time and is "like family now."

Gina Wilhelm Actress