Regarded by many to be the greatest actress of all time, Katharine Houghton Hepburn was born May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Connecticut. Miss Hepburn holds the distinction of being the only actor or actress to win four competitive Academy Awards, but her road to stardom was perhaps a little more arduous than most people realize. Hepburn began her career on stage after graduating from Bryn Mawr College with degrees in history and philosophy. Her career on stage began quickly, however, her start was anything but successful.
George Orson Welles was born May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the son of an artist and an inventor. It is interesting to see how Welles patterned his own career after both parental figures backgrounds, and how being orphaned by the age of 15 might have shaped the groundwork for his most popular film character, Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane; 1941). Welles made his stage debut in 1931 in Jew Suss, while in Dublin, Ireland. From there, he performed off-Broadway before landing his first radio job – on The American School of the Air – in 1934, as well as shooting his first short film, The Hearts of Age, the same year.
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the finest actor working today, and that by the time his career comes to an end, could be the greatest actor to ever grace the silver screen. Born April 29, 1957 in London, England, Day-Lewis is notoriously known for being an incredibly hard working method actor, often staying in character off-screen for the duration of whatever film he is shooting. He first appeared in Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), at the age of 14, in an uncredited role where he played a vandal. He performed in the National Youth Theatre in London as well as working in television (BBC). Another early look at the talented young actor includes a small role in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982) playing a taunting street thug.
John Joseph ”Jack” Nicholson was born on April 22, 1937 in New Jersey. Upon moving to Hollywood, Nicholson worked running errands for William Hanna and Jack Barbera, the famous animation giants, at their MGM studios. Wanting to pursue a career in acting, he declined an offer to work for them as an animation artist. His first film, The Cry Baby Killer (1958), was a low budget film produced by Roger Corman in which Nicholson played the titular character. Corman would go on to direct Nicholson in a few more films, including his first memorable performance in Little Shop of Horrors (1960).
Sir Charles Spencer ”Charlie” Chaplin was born April 16, 1889, and is the most celebrated and iconic star of the early days of cinema, long before those “talkies” came around and ended the silent film era. In honor of his birth, and in fear that most of you may not have had the chance to see many of his films yet, I am dedicating this week’s Circuit 3 to that period of film.
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand on April 7, 1964. He began his career as a rock musician under the stage name Russ Le Roq before moving to Australia intending to apply to the National Institute of Dramatic Art. He changed his mind at the last minute, and instead began to work in theater and television from 1986-1989, until he was cast in his first feature film, George Ogilvie’s The Crossing (1990). Crowe received awards from the Australian Film Institute for his performances in Proof (1991) and Romper Stomper (1992), and made the move to American film shortly after.
Marlon Brando, Jr. is in my opinion the greatest actor of all time. There was no one like him before, and there have been many who have emulated him since, and that alone proves his singularity and influence on the art form all at once. Born April 3, 1924, Brando is the quintessential icon for method acting, though he is said to have despised the lessons of Lee Strasberg. He studied his craft at the American Theatre Wing Professional School, the Dramatic Workshop of The New School, and at the Actors Studio. He has stated that he preferred the Stanislavski System of acting, studying under Stella Adler. Brando began his career in small plays before heading to Broadway, where he became a star playing Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire, directed on stage by Elia Kazan in 1947. By 1950, Brando was starring in films.
Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born on March 27, 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tarantino is known best for his non-linear story-lines and excessive on-screen violence. His first completed feature film, Reservoir Dogs (1992), screened at the Sundance Film Festival and received immediate praise. The critics followed suit in their admiration of the film and its director. Tarantino’s success continued with two successful screenplays: True Romance (1993) – directed by Tony Scott – and Natural Born Killers (1994) – directed by Oliver Stone. The latter was revised heavily by Stone and his writers, but Tarantino was still given story credit.
Walter Bruce Willis turned 58 this week. Born March 19th, 1955, in West Germany, Willis’ family moved back to the States in 1957. He studied acting at Montclair State University before moving to New York City to act off-Broadway. He then moved to Hollywood to try his hand in television, earning roles in Miami Vice (1984) and The Twilight Zone (1985) before auditioning for the lead role of David Addison Jr. in the private investigator series, Moonlighting. The series lasted five years and led to his success in the film industry. In 1987, Willis made his feature film debut in Blake Edwards’ Blind Date, opposite Kim Basinger. It was the role of John McClane in Die Hard (1989), however, that made him a star. The film was an enormous success and spawned four sequels (including A Good Day to Die Hard, released earlier this year).
Sir Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite on March 14th, 1933. The British star of over 100 films grew up in World War II-era London, but was moved to Canada during the Blitz in the early 40s. He worked in theater in his youth, where he took on the stage name Michael Scott. His career took him back to London, where there was already an actor by the same name, so he adapted the name Michael Caine to pay homage to his favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart, whose film, The Caine Mutiny, was playing in theaters at the time. Caine’s first film role came in A Hill in Korea (1956), which co-starred Stanley Baker. It was Baker who would offer Caine the role in Zulu, a performance that made him a star.
This is a big week for Rachel Hannah Weisz, who besides turning 43 this week, has her latest film, Oz the Great and Powerful, opening in wide release. Weisz was born March 7th, 1970 in Westminster, London, and began her acting career with small roles in television. She had a small role in her first film, Death Machine (1994), but her first big turn was opposite Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman in Chain Reaction (1996). Weisz would become a star after landing the role of Evelyn Carnahan, the female lead in The Mummy (1999). The Mummy became an enormous box office success and gained her international recognition.
Now that we have had a few days to recover from this crazy award season, let’s take a moment to reflect. This year so many unique things happened this awards season and many of them were derived from changes the Academy made. Of course like any change, there are sometimes problems along the way like the well documented troubles with the online system and the kneecapping of December contenders that occurred when they changed the Phase 1 deadline mid-year. However slowly, the Academy has adapted to the shifting landscape of the awards season and film. But what more could they do? Well today’s Circuit 3 attempts to answer the question: what changes would you like to see the Academy make? Read more on Circuit 3: Academy Changes…
This week’s Circuit 3 is simple enough. I am the Oscar Genie, here to grant you three wishes! If you had the power to stuff the envelopes for three categories this weekend, what categories would you control the fate of and who would you hand the Oscar to in each?
It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. So what better way to celebrate the holiday for lovers than to dedicate this week’s Circuit 3 to romance?! So easy enough, just list your three favorite films about love, romance, and all that other mushy stuff in the comments.
John Uhler “Jack” Lemmon III was born on February 8th, 1925 in Newton, Massachusetts. Long before becoming one of Hollywood’s most beloved icons, he was an active member in drama clubs while attending Harvard University, and joined the Navy after graduation. After his service, he found work on radio, television, and Broadway. His film debut came in The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949), though his breakthrough performance would come five years later in It Should Happen to You (1954) opposite Judy Holliday.
Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Wales on January 30th, 1974. As a child, Bale starred in television commercials before making a few made-for-television films, including Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986). His first big screen performance came in Empire of the Sun, for which he won the “Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor” award from The National Board of Review.
Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925, just outside the great city of Cleveland, Ohio (Shaker Heights). He made his Broadway theater debut in 1953, starring in William Inge’s Picnic. Newman had continued success on stage while appearing in small television productions like Tales of Tomorrow and Appointment with Adventure, before making his silver screen debut in The Silver Chalice (1954), which was a box office flop. However, the actor found acclaim with his performance as boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me just two years later.
Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach on January 18, 1904. But before becoming the charming actor with the delightful accent, this legend of classic Hollywood had to climb the ladder all the way up from his early days as a vaudeville entertainer. In his youth, Grant worked any job he could get in the entertainment biz – from street mime to stilt walker to the stages of Broadway in several musicals. In 1931, still using his birth name Archie Leach, he traveled to Hollywood where he signed with Paramount Pictures who promptly assisted in changing his name to Cary Grant.
It’s that time of the year where we want to hear from all of you. There is a short 10 question survey for you to fill out and I beg that you take a few moments to fill out the survey in order to make the Awards Circuit a better place for all entertainment enthusiasts. Greatly appreciated!
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With the announcement of this mornings Oscar nominations, I doubt anyone wants to talk about much else. So we are doing a special version of Circuit 3 this week, where you can rank the three omissions that bugged you the most, as well as the three nominees you are most happy to see get honored. You can see my choices after the jump, and then leave your own in the comments below.
Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins was born December 31st, 1937, in Margam, Port Talbot, Wales. At a young age, Hopkins was encouraged to become an actor by fellow countryman Richard Burton, and thus attended the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, Wales before moving to London to be trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Like many young actors, he got his start in theater and worked for a time as Sir Laurence Olivier’s understudy. In 1968, he got his first big break on the big screen, starring opposite Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and Timothy Dalton in The Lion in Winter.
My very favorite actor of all time, Humphrey DeForest Bogart, was born on Christmas Day, 1899 (though some believe Warner Brothers created this as a fictional birthday to help glamorize the actor). Bogie began his career on Broadway during the 20s and 30s. His first big film success came when he played Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936), a performance that spawned a serious of tough-guy roles for the young actor. 1941 would make him a star, however, when he had leading turns in High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon.
Steven Allan Spielberg was born December 18, 1946, in the great state of Ohio. Before becoming one of our most beloved directors, Spielberg attended Long Beach State University, and made his first short film, Amblin‘, while working as an intern at Universal Studios (the title of which used when naming his production company, Amblin Entertainment). His first television job came when he was chosen to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery. He would go on to direct a few TV films, including Duel (1971), a film about a truck driver that goes crazy and runs people off the road. Spielberg’s debut feature film was The Sugarland Express (1974).
Steven Vincent Buscemi turned 55 on December 13th. He worked as a firefighter while attending the Lee Strasberg Institute in the 80s. His first role in a motion picture was in Parting Glances, for which he received praise. He received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Male in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train (1989). In 1990, he played one of Laurence Fishburne’s henchman in Abel Ferrara’s King of New York, and a similar role in the Coen Brothers’ gem Miller’s Crossing (the first of six Coen Brothers’ films he would appear in).