Action film is a film genre in which the protagonist or protagonists are thrust into a series of events that typically include violence, extended fighting, physical feats, rescues and frantic chases. Action films tend to feature a mostly resourceful hero struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a dangerous villain, or a pursuit which usually concludes in victory for the hero. Advancements in computer-generated imagery (CGI) have made it cheaper and easier to create action sequences and other visual effects that required the efforts of professional stunt crews in the past. However, reactions to action films containing significant amounts of CGI have been mixed, as films that use computer animations to create unrealistic, highly unbelievable events are often met with criticism. While action has long been a recurring component in films, the “action film” genre began to develop in the 1970s along with the increase of stunts and special effects. Common tropes of the genre include explosions, car chases, fistfights and shootouts.
This genre is closely associated with the thriller and adventure genres and may also contain elements of drama and spy fiction.
Screenwriter and scholar Eric R. Williams identifies Action Film as one of eleven super-genres in his screenwriters’ taxonomy, claiming that all feature-length narrative films can be classified by these super-genres. The other ten super-genres are Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Science Fiction, Slice of Life, Sports, Thriller, War and Western.
50 Cent (Curtis James Jackson) is an American rapper, actor, producer, and entrepreneur.
He began a musical career and in 2000 he produced Power of the Dollar for Columbia Records, but days before the planned release he was shot and the album was never released. In 2002, after Jackson released the compilation album Guess Who’s Back?, he was discovered by Eminem and signed to Shady Records, under the aegis of Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records.
With the help of Eminem and Dr. Dre (who produced his first major-label album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’), Jackson became one of the world’s best selling rappers and rose to prominence with East Coast hip hop group G-Unit (which he leads de facto). In 2003, he founded G-Unit Records, signing his G-Unit associates Young Buck, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. Jackson had similar commercial and critical success with his second album, The Massacre, which was released in 2005. He released his fifth studio album, Animal Ambition, in 2014 and as of 2019 is working on his sixth studio album, Street King Immortal.
During his career Jackson has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and won several awards, including a Grammy Award, thirteen Billboard Music Awards, six World Music Awards, three American Music Awards and four BET Awards. He has pursued an acting career, appearing in the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005), the Iraq War film Home of the Brave (2006) and Righteous Kill (2008).
Alfredo James “Al” ‘Pacino established himself as a film actor during one of cinema’s most vibrant decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.
He was born April 25, 1940 in Manhattan, New York City, to Italian-American parents, Rose (nee Gerardi) and Sal Pacino. They divorced when he was young. His mother moved them into his grandparents’ home in the South Bronx. Pacino found himself often repeating the plots and voices of characters he had seen in the movies. Bored and unmotivated in school, he found a haven in school plays, and his interest soon blossomed into a full-time career. Starting onstage, he went through a period of depression and poverty, sometimes having to borrow bus fare to succeed to auditions. He made it into the prestigious Actors Studio in 1966, studying under Lee Strasberg, creator of the Method Approach that would become the trademark of many 1970s-era actors.
After appearing in a string of plays in supporting roles, Pacino finally attained success off-Broadway with Israel Horovitz’s “The Indian Wants the Bronx”, winning an Obie Award for the 1966-67 season. That was followed by a Tony Award for “Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie?” His first feature films made little departure from the gritty realistic stage performances that earned him respect: he played a drug addict in The Panic in Needle Park (1971) after his film debut in Me, Natalie (1969). The role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972) was one of the most sought-after of the time: Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Ryan O’Neal, Robert De Niro and a host of other actors either wanted it or were mentioned, but director Francis Ford Coppola wanted Pacino for the role.
Coppola was successful but Pacino was reportedly in constant fear of being fired during the very difficult shoot. The film was a monster hit that earned Pacino his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. However, instead of taking on easier projects for the big money he could now command, Pacino threw his support behind what he considered tough but important films, such as the true-life crime drama Serpico (1973) and the tragic real-life bank robbery film Dog Day Afternoon (1975). He was nominated three consecutive years for the “Best Actor” Academy Award. He faltered slightly with Bobby Deerfield (1977), but regained his stride with And Justice for All (1979), for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Unfortunately, this would signal the beginning of a decline in his career, which produced flops like Cruising (1980) and Author! Author! (1982).
Pacino took on another vicious gangster role and cemented his legendary status in the ultra-violent cult film Scarface (1983), but a monumental mistake was about to follow. Revolution (1985) endured an endless and seemingly cursed shoot in which equipment was destroyed, weather was terrible, and Pacino fell ill with pneumonia. Constant changes in the script further derailed the project. The Revolutionary War-themed film, considered among the worst films ever made, resulted in awful reviews and kept him off the screen for the next four years. Returning to the stage, Pacino did much to give back and contribute to the theatre, which he considers his first love. He directed a film, The Local Stigmatic (1990), but it remains unreleased. He lifted his self-imposed exile with the striking Sea of Love (1989) as a hard-drinking policeman. This marked the second phase of Pacino’s career, being the first to feature his now famous dark, owl eyes and hoarse, gravelly voice.
Returning to the Corleones, Pacino made The Godfather: Part III (1990) and earned raves for his first comedic role in the colorful adaptation Dick Tracy (1990). This earned him another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and two years later he was nominated for Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). He went into romantic mode for Frankie and Johnny (1991). In 1992, he finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his amazing performance in Scent of a Woman (1992). A mixture of technical perfection (he plays a blind man) and charisma, the role was tailor-made for him, and remains a classic.
The next few years would see Pacino becoming more comfortable with acting and movies as a business, turning out great roles in great films with more frequency and less of the demanding personal involvement of his wilder days. Carlito’s Way (1993) proved another gangster classic, as did the epic crime drama Heat (1995) directed by Michael Mann and co-starring Robert De Niro. He directed the film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Looking for Richard (1996). During this period, City Hall (1996), Donnie Brasco (1997) and The Devil’s Advocate (1997) all came out. Reteaming with Mann and then Oliver Stone, he gave commanding performances in The Insider (1999) and Any Given Sunday (1999).
In the 2000s, Pacino starred in a number of theatrical blockbusters, including Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), but his choice in television roles (the vicious, closeted Roy Cohn in the HBO miniseries Angels in America (2003) and his sensitive portrayal of Jack Kevorkian, in the television movie You Don’t Know Jack (2010)) are reminiscent of the bolder choices of his early career. Each television project garnered him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.
Never wed, Pacino has a daughter, Julie Marie, with acting teacher Jan Tarrant, and a set of twins with former longtime girlfriend Beverly D’Angelo. His romantic history includes Jill Clayburgh, Veruschka von Lehndorff, Carole Mallory, Debra Winger, Tuesday Weld, Marthe Keller, Carmen Cervera, Kathleen Quinlan, Lyndall Hobbs, Penelope Ann Miller, and a two-decade intermittent relationship with “Godfather” co-star Diane Keaton. He currently lives with Argentinian actress Lucila Solá, who is 36 years his junior.
Andie MacDowell was born Rosalie Anderson MacDowell on April 21, 1958 in Gaffney, South Carolina, to Pauline Johnston (Oswald), a music teacher, and Marion St. Pierre MacDowell, a lumber executive. She was enrolled at Winthrop College located in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Initially discovered by a rep from Wilhelmina Models while on a trip to Los Angeles. Later signed on with Elite Model Management in New York City in 1978. Made debut film appearance in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984). Went on to study method acting at the Actors Studio. Had commercial success with performances in Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day (1993) and Mike Newell’s Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).
Angelina Jolie is an Academy Award-winning actress who rose to fame after her role in Girl, Interrupted (1999), playing the title role in the “Lara Croft” blockbuster movies, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), Salt (2010) and Maleficent (2014). Off-screen, Jolie has become prominently involved in international charity projects, especially those involving refugees. She often appears on many “most beautiful women” lists, and she has a personal life that is avidly covered by the tabloid press.
Jolie was born Angelina Jolie Voight in Los Angeles, California. In her earliest years, Angelina began absorbing the acting craft from her actor parents, Jon Voight, an Oscar-winner, and Marcheline Bertrand, who had studied with Lee Strasberg. Her good looks may derive from her ancestry, which is German and Slovak on her father’s side, and French-Canadian, Dutch, Polish, and remote Huron, on her mother’s side. At age eleven, Angelina began studying at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where she was seen in several stage productions. She undertook some film studies at New York University and later joined the renowned Met Theatre Group in Los Angeles. At age 16, she took up a career in modeling and appeared in some music videos.
In the mid-1990s, Jolie appeared in various small films where she got good notices, including Hackers (1995) and Foxfire (1996). Her critical acclaim increased when she played strong roles in the made-for-TV movies True Women (1997), and in George Wallace (1997) which won her a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination. Jolie’s acclaim increased even further when she played the lead role in the HBO production Gia (1998). This was the true life story of supermodel Gia Carangi, a sensitive wild child who was both brazen and needy and who had a difficult time handling professional success and the deaths of people who were close to her. Carangi became involved with drugs and because of her needle-using habits she became, at the tender age of 26, one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS. Jolie’s performance in Gia (1998) again garnered a Golden Globe Award and another Emmy nomination, and she additionally earned a SAG Award.
Angelina got a major break in 1999 when she won a leading role in the successful feature The Bone Collector (1999), starring alongside Denzel Washington. In that same year, Jolie gave a tour de force performance in Girl, Interrupted (1999) playing opposite Winona Ryder. The movie was a true story of women who spent time in a psychiatric hospital. Jolie’s role was reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), the role which won Nicholson his first Oscar. Unlike “Cuckoo”, “Girl” was a small film that received mixed reviews and barely made money at the box office. But when it came time to give out awards, Jolie won the triple crown — “Girl” propelled her to win the Golden Globe Award, the SAG Award and the Academy Award for best leading actress in a supporting role.
With her new-found prominence, Jolie began to get in-depth attention from the press. Numerous aspects of her controversial personal life became news. At her wedding to her Hackers (1995) co-star Jonny Lee Miller, she had displayed her husband’s name on the back of her shirt painted in her own blood. Jolie and Miller divorced, and in 2000, she married her Pushing Tin (1999) co-star Billy Bob Thornton. Jolie had become the fifth wife of a man twenty years her senior. During her marriage to Thornton, the spouses each wore a vial of the other’s blood around their necks. That marriage came apart in 2002 and ended in divorce. In addition, Jolie was estranged from her famous father, Jon Voight.
In 2000, Jolie was asked to star in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). At first, she expressed disinterest, but then decided that the required training for the athletic role was intriguing. The Croft character was drawn from a popular video game. Lara Croft was a female cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond. When the film was released, critics were unimpressed with the final product, but critical acclaim wasn’t the point of the movie. The public paid $275 million for theater tickets to see a buffed up Jolie portray the adventuresome Lara Croft. Jolie’s father Jon Voight appeared in “Croft”, and during filming there was a brief rapprochement between father and daughter.
One of the Croft movie’s filming locations was Cambodia. While there, Jolie witnessed the natural beauty, culture and poverty of that country. She considered this an eye opening experience, and so began the humanitarian chapter of her life. Jolie began visiting refugee camps around the world and came to be formally appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Some of her experiences were written and published in her popular book “Notes from My Travels” whose profits go to UNHCR.
Jolie has stated that she now plans to spend most of her time in humanitarian efforts, to be financed by her actress salary. She devotes one third of her income to savings, one third to living expenses and one third to charity. In 2002, Angelina adopted a Cambodian refugee boy named Maddox, and in 2005, adopted an Ethiopian refugee girl named Zahara. Jolie’s dramatic feature film Beyond Borders (2003) parallels some of her real life humanitarian experiences although, despite the inclusion of a romance between two westerners, many of the movie’s images were too depressingly realistic — the film was not popular among critics or at the box office.
In 2004, Jolie began filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) with co-star Brad Pitt. The film became a major box office success. There were rumors that Pitt and Jolie had an affair while filming “Smith”. Jolie insisted that because her mother had been hurt by adultery, she herself could never participate in an affair with a married man, therefore there had been no affair with Pitt at that time. Nonetheless, Pitt separated from his wife Jennifer Aniston in January 2005 and, in the months that followed, he was frequently seen in public with Jolie, apparently as a couple. Pitt’s divorce was finalized later in 2005.
Jolie and Pitt announced in early 2006 that they would have a child together, and Jolie gave birth to daughter Shiloh that May. They also adopted a three-year-old Vietnamese boy named Pax. The couple, who married in 2014 and divorced in 2019, continue to pursue movie and humanitarian projects, and now have a total of six children.
Anjelica Huston was born on July 8, 1951 to director and actor John Huston and Russian prima ballerina Enrica ‘Ricki’ Soma. Huston spent most of her childhood overseas, in Ireland and England, and in 1968 first dipped her toe into the world of show business, taking on the lead role of her father’s movie A Walk with Love and Death (1969). However, before it was released, her mother died in a car accident, at 39, and Huston relocated to the United States, where the very tall, exotically-beautiful young woman modeled for several years.
While modeling, Huston made sporadic cameo appearances in a couple films, but decided to pursue it as a career in the early ’80s. She prepared herself by reaching out to acting coach Peggy Feury and began to get roles. The first notable part was in Bob Rafelson’s remake of the classic noir movie The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) (in which Jack Nicholson, with whom Huston had been living since 1973, was the star). After a few more years of on-again, off-again supporting work, her father perfectly cast her as calculating, imperious Maerose, the daughter of a Mafia don whose love is scorned by a hit man (Nicholson again) in his film adaptation of Richard Condon’s Mafia-satire novel Prizzi’s Honor (1985). Huston won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, making her the first person in Academy Award history to win an Oscar when a parent and a grandparent (her father and grandfather Walter Huston) had also won one.
Huston thereafter worked prolifically, including notable roles in Francis Ford Coppola’s Gardens of Stone (1987), Barry Sonnenfeld’s film versions of the Charles Addams cartoons The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), in which she portrayed Addams matriarch Morticia, Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Probably her finest performance on-screen, however, was as Lilly, the veteran, iron-willed con artist in Stephen Frears’ The Grifters (1990), for which she received another Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actress. A sentimental favorite is her performance as the lead in her father’s final film, an adaptation of James Joyce’s The Dead (1987) — with her many years of residence in Ireland, Huston’s Irish accent in the film is authentic.
Endowed with her father’s great height and personal boldness, and her mother’s beauty and aristocratic nose, Huston certainly cuts an imposing figure, and brings great confidence and authority to her performances. She clearly takes her craft seriously and has come into her own as a strong actress, emerging from under the shadow of her father, who passed away in 1987. Huston married the sculptor Robert Graham in 1992. The couple lived in Venice Beach until Graham’s death in 2008.
Anne Jacqueline Hathaway was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Kate McCauley Hathaway, an actress, and Gerald T. Hathaway, a lawyer, both originally from Philadelphia. She is of mostly Irish descent, along with English, German, and French. Her first major role came in the short-lived television series Get Real (1999). She gained widespread recognition for her roles in The Princess Diaries (2001) and its 2004 sequel as a young girl who discovers she is a member of royalty, opposite Julie Andrews and Heather Matarazzo.
She also had a notable role in Nicholas Nickleby (2002) opposite Charlie Hunnam and Jamie Bell, and a starring role in Ella Enchanted (2004). A former top-ranking soprano in New York, Hathaway was reportedly a front-runner for the role of “Christine” in the 2004 The Phantom of the Opera (2004). However, due to scheduling conflicts with The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004), she couldn’t take the role, which was later given to newcomer Emmy Rossum.
Hathaway soon started to move away from family-friendly films. Following The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004), she appeared topless in the films Havoc (2005) opposite Josh Peck and Brokeback Mountain (2005) opposite Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Her desire to break out of her “Princess Diaries” image parallels that of her one-time co-star, Julie Andrews, who went topless in the film S.O.B. (1981) in order to break away from the image she created from her 1960s musicals. In interviews, Hathaway said that doing family-friendly films didn’t mean she was similar to their characters or mean she objected to appearing nude in other films.
Antonio Banderas, one of Spain’s most famous faces, was a soccer player until breaking his foot at the age of fourteen; he is now an international film star known for playing Zorro in the eponymous film series.
He was born José Antonio Domínguez Banderas on August 10, 1960, in Málaga, Andalusia, Spain. His father, Jose Dominguez, was a policeman in the Spanish civil guards. His mother, Doña Ana Banderas Gallego, was a school teacher. Young Banderas was brought up a Roman Catholic. He wanted to play soccer professionally and made much success playing for his school team until the age of 14, albeit his dream ended when he broke his foot. At that time he developed a passion for theatre after seeing the stage production of ‘Hair’. Banderas began his acting studies at the School of Dramatic Art in Málaga, and made his acting debut at a small theatre in Málaga. He was arrested by the Spanish police for performance in a play by Bertolt Brecht, because of political censorship under the rule of General Francisco Franco. Banderas spent a whole night at the police station, he had three or four such arrests while he was working with a small theatre troupe that toured all over Spain and was giving performances in small town theatres and on the street.
In 1979, at the age of 19, he moved to Madrid in pursuit of an acting career. Being a struggling young actor, he also worked as a waiter and took small modeling jobs. At that time he joined the troupe at the National Theatre of Spain, becoming the youngest member of the company. Banderas’s stage performances caught the attention of film director Pedro Almodóvar, who cast the young actor in his film debut Labyrinth of Passion (1982). Banderas and Almodovar joined forces in making innovative and sexually provocative movies during the 1980s. In 1984 Banderas made headlines in Spain with his performance as a gay man, making his first male-to-male on-screen kiss in Almodovar’s Law of Desire (1987). Banderas’s long and fruitful collaboration with Pedro Almodóvar eventually prepared him for international recognition that came with his work in the Academy Award-nominated film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). In 1991 he appeared as an object of Madonna’s affection in Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991).
In 1992 Banderas made his Hollywood debut with The Mambo Kings (1992). Because he did not speak English at that time, his dialogue for the film was taught to him phonetically. Banderas shot to international fame with his sensitive performance as a lover of Tom Hanks’ AIDS-infected lawyer in Philadelphia (1993), then played opposite Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994). Banderas further established himself as one of Hollywood’s leading men after co-starring in Evita (1996) opposite Madonna in the title role. In 1998 he won acclaim for his portrayal of Zorro, opposite Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones, in The Mask of Zorro (1998). For the role as Zorro Banderas took training with the Olympic national fencing team in Spain, and practiced his moves with real steel swords, then he used the lighter aluminum swords in the movie. He also took a month-long course of horse-riding before the filming. He later returned to the role in The Legend of Zorro (2005). In 1999 Banderas made his directorial debut in Crazy in Alabama (1999), starring his wife, Melanie Griffith. He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros opposite Salma Hayek in Frida (2002). He voiced Puss in Boots in the Shrek franchise.
Banderas established himself as internationally known Latin heartthrob with charismatic looks, and was chosen as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by the People magazine in 1996. He won numerous awards and nominations for his works in film, including three ALMA awards and three Golden Globe nominations, among many other. From 1996 to 2014, Banderas was married to American actress Melanie Griffith and the couple have one daughter Stella born in 1996. Outside of his acting profession, Banderas has been a passionate soccer fan and a staunch supporter of the Real Madrid Football Club. He shares time between his two residencies, one is in the United States, and one in the South of Spain.
With an almost unpronounceable surname and a thick Austrian accent, who would have ever believed that a brash, quick talking bodybuilder from a small European village would become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, marry into the prestigious Kennedy family, amass a fortune via shrewd investments and one day be the Governor of California!?
The amazing story of megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger is a true “rags to riches” tale of a penniless immigrant making it in the land of opportunity, the United States of America. Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born July 30, 1947, in the town of Thal, Styria, Austria, to Aurelia Schwarzenegger (born Jadrny) and Gustav Schwarzenegger, the local police chief. From a young age, he took a keen interest in physical fitness and bodybuilding, going on to compete in several minor contests in Europe. However, it was when he emigrated to the United States in 1968 at the tender age of 21 that his star began to rise.
Up until the early 1970s, bodybuilding had been viewed as a rather oddball sport, or even a mis-understood “freak show” by the general public, however two entrepreneurial Canadian brothers Ben Weider and Joe Weider set about broadening the appeal of “pumping iron” and getting the sport respect, and what better poster boy could they have to lead the charge, then the incredible “Austrian Oak”, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Over roughly the next decade, beginning in 1970, Schwarzenegger dominated the sport of competitive bodybuilding winning five Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia titles and, with it, he made himself a major sports icon, he generated a new international audience for bodybuilding, gym memberships worldwide swelled by the tens of thousands and the Weider sports business empire flourished beyond belief and reached out to all corners of the globe. However, Schwarzenegger’s horizons were bigger than just the landscape of bodybuilding and he debuted on screen as “Arnold Strong” in the low budget Hercules in New York (1970), then director Bob Rafelson cast Arnold in Stay Hungry (1976) alongside Jeff Bridges and Sally Field, for which Arnold won a Golden Globe Award for “Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture”. The mesmerizing Pumping Iron (1977) covering the 1975 Mr Olympia contest in South Africa has since gone on to become one of the key sports documentaries of the 20th century, plus Arnold landed other acting roles in the comedy The Villain (1979) opposite Kirk Douglas, and he portrayed Mickey Hargitay in the well- received TV movie The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980).
What Arnold really needed was a super hero / warrior style role in a lavish production that utilized his chiseled physique, and gave him room to show off his growing acting talents and quirky humor. Conan the Barbarian (1982) was just that role. Inspired by the Robert E. Howard short stories of the “Hyborean Age” and directed by gung ho director John Milius, and with a largely unknown cast, save Max von Sydow and James Earl Jones, “Conan” was a smash hit worldwide and an inferior, although still enjoyable sequel titled Conan the Destroyer (1984) quickly followed. If “Conan” was the kick start to Arnold’s movie career, then his next role was to put the pedal to the floor and accelerate his star status into overdrive. Director James Cameron had until that time only previously directed one earlier feature film titled Piranha II: The Spawning (1981), which stank of rotten fish from start to finish. However, Cameron had penned a fast paced, science fiction themed film script that called for an actor to play an unstoppable, ruthless predator – The Terminator (1984). Made on a relatively modest budget, the high voltage action / science fiction thriller The Terminator (1984) was incredibly successful worldwide, and began one of the most profitable film franchises in history. The dead pan phrase “I’ll be back” quickly became part of popular culture across the globe. Schwarzenegger was in vogue with action movie fans, and the next few years were to see Arnold reap box office gold in roles portraying tough, no-nonsense individuals who used their fists, guns and witty one-liners to get the job done. The testosterone laden Commando (1985), Raw Deal (1986), Predator (1987), The Running Man (1987) and Red Heat (1988) were all box office hits and Arnold could seemingly could no wrong when it came to picking winning scripts. The tongue-in-cheek comedy Twins (1988) with co-star Danny DeVito was a smash and won Arnold new fans who saw a more comedic side to the muscle- bound actor once described by Australian author / TV host Clive James as “a condom stuffed with walnuts”. The spectacular Total Recall (1990) and “feel good” Kindergarten Cop (1990) were both solid box office performers for Arnold, plus he was about to return to familiar territory with director James Cameron in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). The second time around for the futuristic robot, the production budget had grown from the initial film’s $6.5 million to an alleged $100 million for the sequel, and it clearly showed as the stunning sequel bristled with amazing special effects, bone-crunching chases & stunt sequences, plus state of the art computer-generated imagery. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was arguably the zenith of Arnold’s film career to date and he was voted “International Star of the Decade” by the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Remarkably, his next film Last Action Hero (1993) brought Arnold back to Earth with a hard thud as the self-satirizing, but confusing plot line of a young boy entering into a mythical Hollywood action film confused movie fans even more and they stayed away in droves making the film an initial financial disaster. Arnold turned back to good friend, director James Cameron and the chemistry was definitely still there as the “James Bond” style spy thriller True Lies (1994) co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold was the surprise hit of 1994! Following the broad audience appeal of True Lies (1994), Schwarzenegger decided to lean towards more family-themed entertainment with Junior (1994) and Jingle All the Way (1996), but he still found time to satisfy his hard-core fan base with Eraser (1996), as the chilling “Mr. Freeze” in Batman & Robin (1997) and battling dark forces in the supernatural action of End of Days (1999). The science fiction / conspiracy tale The 6th Day (2000) played to only mediocre fan interest, and Collateral Damage (2002) had its theatrical release held over for nearly a year after the tragic events of Sept 11th 2001, but it still only received a lukewarm reception.
It was time again to resurrect Arnold’s most successful franchise and, in 2003, Schwarzenegger pulled on the biker leathers for the third time for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). Unfortunately, directorial duties passed from James Cameron to Jonathan Mostow and the deletion of the character of “Sarah Connor” aka Linda Hamilton and a change in the actor playing “John Connor” – Nick Stahl took over from Edward Furlong – making the third entry in the “Terminator” series the weakest to date.
Schwarzenegger married TV journalist Maria Shriver in April, 1986 and the couple have four children.
In October of 2003 Schwarzenegger, running as a Republican, was elected Governor of California in a special recall election of then governor Gray Davis. The “Governator,” as Schwarzenegger came to be called, held the office until 2011. Upon leaving the Governor’s mansion it was revealed that he had fathered a child with the family’s live-in maid and Shriver filed for divorce.
Schwarzenegger contributed cameo roles to The Rundown (2003), Around the World in 80 Days (2004) and The Kid & I (2005). Recently, he starred in The Expendables 2 (2012), The Last Stand (2013), Escape Plan (2013), The Expendables 3 (2014), and Terminator Genisys (2015).
Actor and musician Bruce Willis is well known for playing wisecracking or hard-edged characters, often in spectacular action films. Collectively, he has appeared in films that have grossed in excess of $2.5 billion USD, placing him in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts.
Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19, 1955, in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, to a German mother, Marlene Kassel, and an American father, David Andrew Willis (from Carneys Point, New Jersey), who were then living on a United States military base. His family moved to the U.S. shortly after he was born, and he was raised in Penns Grove, New Jersey, where his mother worked at a bank and his father was a welder and factory worker. Willis picked up an interest for the dramatic arts in high school, and was allegedly “discovered” whilst working in a café in New York City and then appeared in a couple of off-Broadway productions. While bartending one night, he was seen by a casting director who liked his personality and needed a bartender for a small movie role.
After countless auditions, Willis contributed minor film appearances, usually uncredited, before landing the role of private eye “David Addison” alongside sultry Cybill Shepherd in the hit romantic comedy television series Moonlighting (1985). His sarcastic and wisecracking P.I. is seen by some as a dry run for the role of hard-boiled NYC detective “John McClane” in the monster hit Die Hard (1988), in which Willis’ character single-handedly battled a gang of ruthless international thieves in a Los Angeles skyscraper. He reprised the role of McClane in the sequel, Die Hard 2 (1990), set at a snowbound Washington’s Dulles International Airport as a group of renegade Special Forces soldiers seek to repatriate a corrupt South American general. Excellent box office returns demanded a further sequel Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), this time co-starring Samuel L. Jackson as a cynical Harlem shop owner unwittingly thrust into assisting McClane during a terrorist bombing campaign on a sweltering day in New York.
Willis found time out from all the action mayhem to provide the voice of “Mikey” the baby in the very popular family comedies Look Who’s Talking (1989), and its sequel Look Who’s Talking Too (1990) also starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. Over the next decade, Willis starred in some very successful films, some very offbeat films and some unfortunate box office flops. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) and Hudson Hawk (1991) were both large scale financial disasters that were savaged by the critics, and both are arguably best left off the CVs of all the actors involved, however Willis was still popular with movie audiences and selling plenty of theatre tickets with the hyper-violent The Last Boy Scout (1991), the darkly humored Death Becomes Her (1992) and the mediocre police thriller Striking Distance (1993).
During the 1990s, Willis also appeared in several independent and low budget productions that won him new fans and praise from the critics for his intriguing performances working with some very diverse film directors. He appeared in the oddly appealing North (1994), as a cagey prizefighter in the Quentin Tarantino directed mega-hit Pulp Fiction (1994), the Terry Gilliam directed apocalyptic thriller 12 Monkeys (1995), the Luc Besson directed sci-fi opus The Fifth Element (1997) and the M. Night Shyamalan directed spine-tingling epic The Sixth Sense (1999).
Willis next starred in the gangster comedy The Whole Nine Yards (2000), worked again with “hot” director M. Night Shyamalan in the less than gripping Unbreakable (2000), and in two military dramas, Hart’s War (2002) and Tears of the Sun (2003) that both failed to really fire with movie audiences or critics alike. However, Willis bounced back into the spotlight in the critically applauded Frank Miller graphic novel turned movie Sin City (2005), the voice of “RJ” the scheming raccoon in the animated hit Over the Hedge (2006) and “Die Hard” fans rejoiced to see “John McClane” return to the big screen in the high tech Live Free or Die Hard (2007) aka “Die Hard 4.0”.
A tall, strikingly attractive blue-eyed natural blonde, Cameron Diaz was born in 1972 in San Diego, the daughter of a Cuban-American father and a German mother. Self described as “adventurous, independent and a tough kid,” Cameron left home at 16 and for the next 5 years lived in such varied locales as Japan, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, and Paris. Returning to California at the age of 21, she was working as a model when she auditioned for a big part in The Mask (1994). To her amazement and despite having no previous acting experience, she was cast as the female lead in the film opposite Jim Carrey. Over the next 3 years, she honed her acting skills in such low budget independent films as The Last Supper (1995); Feeling Minnesota (1996); and Head Above Water (1996). She returned to main stream films in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), in which she held her own against veteran actress Julia Roberts. She earned full fledged star status in 1998 for her performance in the box office smash There’s Something About Mary (1998). With her name near the top on virtually every list of Hollyood’s sexiest actresses, and firmly established as one of filmdom’s hottest properties and most sought after actresses, Cameron Diaz appears to possess everything necessary to become one of the super stars of the new century.
Carl Weathers was born on January 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana. A famous and successful football star at San Diego State, he played with the Oakland Raiders and retired from the sport in 1974, in order to give full attention to his goal: to be a real actor. Weathers first played small parts in two blaxploitation flicks, Friday Foster (1975) (in which he played “Yarbro”) and Bucktown (1975) (playing “Hambone”), both made in 1975 and directed by Arthur Marks. However, his big break came the following year when producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff chose him to play “Apollo Creed” in the blockbuster “sleeper” Rocky (1976) (real-life boxing legend Ken Norton was originally signed for the part, but it eventually went to Weathers). He went on to play “Creed” in three other “Rocky” movies, and the characters’ adversarial relationship eventually evolved into a warm friendship. After Creed’s death in Rocky IV (1985), Weathers met with producer Joel Silver and agreed to play an important supporting role in Predator (1987), an action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The following year, Silver produced Action Jackson (1988), a first starring role for Weathers, but it performed poorly at the box office and was panned by the critics. During the 1990s, Weathers starred in four In the Heat of the Night (1988) two-hour TV specials that were much better received by critics and viewers alike. In 1996, he played the part of “Chubbs Peterson” in the blockbuster Adam Sandler comedy Happy Gilmore (1996). He returned to his “action roots” in two TV-movies with Hulk Hogan: Assault on Devil’s Island (1997) and Assault on Death Mountain (1999). In addition to his acting career, Weathers is also a member of the Big Brothers Association and the U.S. Olympic Committee, handling the career of athletes of various sports such as gymnastics, wrestling, swimming and judo.
Charlie Sheen was born Carlos Irwin Estévez on September 3, 1965, in New York City. His father, actor Martin Sheen (born Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez), was at the time just breaking into the business, with performances on Broadway. His mother, Janet Sheen (née Templeton), was a former New York art student who had met Charlie’s father right after he had moved to Manhattan. Martin and Janet had three other children, Emilio Estevez, Renée Estevez, and Ramon Estevez, all of whom became actors. His father is of half Spanish and half Irish descent, and his mother, whose family is from Kentucky, has English and Scottish ancestry.
At a young age, Charlie took an interest in his father’s acting career. When he was nine, he was given a small part in his dad’s movie The Execution of Private Slovik (1974). In 1977, he was in the Philippines where his dad suffered a near-fatal heart attack on the set of Apocalypse Now (1979).
While at Santa Monica High School, Charlie had two major interests: acting and baseball. Along with his friends, which included Rob Lowe and Sean Penn, he produced and starred in several amateur Super-8 films. On the Vikings baseball team, he was a star shortstop and pitcher. His lifetime record as a pitcher was 40-15. His interest and skill in baseball would later influence some of his movie roles. Unfortunately, his success on the baseball field did not translate to success in the classroom, as he struggled to keep his grades up. Just a few weeks before his scheduled graduation date, Charlie was expelled due to poor attendance and bad grades.
After high school, Charlie aggressively pursued many acting roles. His first major role was as a high school student in the teen war film Red Dawn (1984). He followed this up with relatively small roles in TV movies and low-profile releases. His big break came in 1986 when he starred in Oliver Stone’s Oscar winning epic Platoon (1986). He drew rave reviews for his portrayal of a young soldier who is caught in the center of a moral crisis in Vietnam.
The success of Platoon (1986) prompted Oliver Stone to cast Charlie in his next movie Wall Street (1987) alongside his father and veteran actor Martin Sheen. The movie with its “Greed is Good” theme became an instant hit with viewers.
Shortly after, Stone approached Charlie about the starring role in his next movie, Born on the Fourth of July (1989). When Tom Cruise eventually got the part, Sheen ended up hearing the news from his brother Emilio Estevez and not even getting as much as a call from Stone. This led to a fallout, and the two have not worked together since.
The fallout with Stone, however, did nothing to hurt Charlie’s career in the late 1980s and early ’90s, as he continued to establish himself as one of the top box office draws with a string of hits that included Young Guns (1988), Major League (1989), and Hot Shots! (1991). However, as the mid-’90s neared, his good fortune both personally and professionally, soon came to an end.
Around this time, Charlie, who had already been to drug rehab, was beginning to develop a reputation as a hard-partying, womanizer. In 1995, the same year he was briefly married to model Donna Peele, he was called to testify at the trial of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. At the trial, while under oath he admitted to spending nearly $50,000 on 27 of Fleiss’ $2,500-a-night prostitutes.
His downward spiral continued the following year when his ex-girlfriend Brittany Ashland filed charges claiming that he physically abused her. He was later charged with misdemeanor battery to which he pleaded no contest and was given a year’s suspended sentence, two years’ probation and a $2,800 fine. He finally hit rock bottom in May 1998 when he was hospitalized in Thousand Oaks, California, following a near-fatal drug overdose. Later that month, he was ordered back to the drug rehab center, which he had previously left after one day.
During this stretch, Charlie’s film career began to suffer as well. He starred in a series of box office flops that included The Arrival (1996) and Shadow Conspiracy (1997). However as the 1990s came to end, so did Charlie’s string of bad luck.
In 2000, Charlie, now clean and sober, was chosen to replace Michael J. Fox on the ABC hit sitcom Spin City (1996). Though his stint lasted only two seasons, Charlie’s performance caught the eye of CBS executives who in 2003 were looking for an established star to help carry their Monday night lineup of sitcoms that included Everybody Loves Raymond (1996). The sitcom Two and a Half Men (2003) starred Charlie as a swinging, irresponsible womanizer whose life changes when his nephew suddenly appears on his doorstep. The show became a huge hit, breathing much needed life into Charlie’s fading career.
Charlie’s personal life also appeared to be improving. In 2002, he married actress Denise Richards, whom he first met while shooting the movie Good Advice (2001). In March 2004, they had a daughter, Sam, and it was announced shortly after that Denise was pregnant with the couple’s second child. By all reports, the couple seemed to be very happy together. However, like all of Charlie’s previous relationships, the stability did not last long. In March of 2005, Denise, who was six-months pregnant, filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. She gave birth to a second daughter, Lola, in June of that same year. Their divorce became final in late 2006.
Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer “Jenny” (James) and David Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries throughout Bale’s childhood, including England, Portugal, and the United States. Bale acknowledges the constant change was one of the influences on his career choice.
His first acting job was a cereal commercial in 1983; amazingly, the next year, he debuted on the West End stage in “The Nerd”. A role in the 1986 NBC mini-series Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986) caught Steven Spielberg’s eye, leading to Bale’s well-documented role in Empire of the Sun (1987). For the range of emotions he displayed as the star of the war epic, he earned a special award by the National Board of Review for Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor.
Adjusting to fame and his difficulties with attention (he thought about quitting acting early on), Bale appeared in Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V (1989) and starred as Jim Hawkins in a TV movie version of Treasure Island (1990). Bale worked consistently through the 1990s, acting and singing in Newsies (1992), Swing Kids (1993), Little Women (1994), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), The Secret Agent (1996), Metroland (1997), Velvet Goldmine (1998), All the Little Animals (1998), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). Toward the end of the decade, with the rise of the Internet, Bale found himself becoming one of the most popular online celebrities around, though he, with a couple notable exceptions, maintained a private, tabloid-free mystique.
Bale roared into the next decade with a lead role in American Psycho (2000), director Mary Harron’s adaptation of the controversial Bret Easton Ellis novel. In the film, Bale played a murderous Wall Street executive obsessed with his own physicality – a trait for which Bale would become a specialist. Subsequently, the 10th Anniversary issue for “Entertainment Weekly” crowned Bale one of the “Top 8 Most Powerful Cult Figures” of the past decade, citing his cult status on the Internet. EW also called Bale one of the “Most Creative People in Entertainment”, and “Premiere” lauded him as one of the “Hottest Leading Men Under 30”.
Bale was truly on the Hollywood radar at this time, and he turned in a range of performances in the remake Shaft (2000), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001), the balmy Laurel Canyon (2002), and Reign of Fire (2002), a dragons-and-magic commercial misfire that has its share of defenders.
Two more cult films followed: Equilibrium (2002) and The Machinist (2004), the latter of which gained attention mainly due to Bale’s physical transformation – he dropped a reported 60+ pounds for the role of a lathe operator with a secret that causes him to suffer from insomnia for over a year.
Bale’s abilities to transform his body and to disappear into a character influenced the decision to cast him in Batman Begins (2005), the first chapter in Christopher Nolan’s definitive trilogy that proved a dark-themed narrative could resonate with audiences worldwide. The film also resurrected a character that had been shelved by Warner Bros. after a series of demising returns, capped off by the commercial and critical failure of Batman & Robin (1997). A quiet, personal victory for Bale: he accepted the role after the passing of his father in late 2003, an event that caused him to question whether he would continue performing.
Bale segued into two indie features in the wake of Batman’s phenomenal success: The New World (2005) and Harsh Times (2005). He continued working with respected independent directors in 2006’s Rescue Dawn (2006), Werner Herzog’s feature version of his earlier, Emmy-nominated documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997). Leading up to the second Batman film, Bale starred in The Prestige (2006), the remake of 3:10 to Yuma (2007), and a reunion with director Todd Haynes in the experimental Bob Dylan biography, I’m Not There (2007).
Anticipation for The Dark Knight (2008) was spun into unexpected heights with the tragic passing of Heath Ledger, whose performance as The Joker became the highlight of the sequel. Bale’s graceful statements to the press reminded us of the days of the refined Hollywood star as the second installment exceeded the box-office performance of its predecessor.
Bale’s next role was the eyebrow-raising decision to take over the role of John Connor in the Schwarzenegger-less Terminator Salvation (2009), followed by a turn as federal agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009). Both films were hits but not the blockbusters they were expected to be.
For all his acclaim and box-office triumphs, Bale would earn his first Oscar in 2011 in the wake of The Fighter (2010)’s critical and commercial success. Bale earned the Best Supporting Actor award for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund, brother to and trainer of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg. Bale again showed his ability to reshape his body with another gaunt, skeletal transformation.
Bale then turned to another auteur, Yimou Zhang, for the epic The Flowers of War (2011), in which Bale portrayed a priest trapped in the midst of the Rape of Nanking. Bale earned headlines for his attempt to visit with Chinese civil-rights activist Chen Guangcheng, which was blocked by the Chinese government.
Bale capped his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Dark Knight Rises (2012); in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado tragedy, Bale made a quiet pilgrimage to the state to visit with survivors of the attack that left theatergoers dead and injured. He also starred in the thriller Out of the Furnace (2013) with Crazy Heart (2009) writer/director Scott Cooper, and the drama-comedy American Hustle (2013), reuniting with David O. Russell.
Bale will re-team with The New World (2005) director Terrence Malick for two upcoming projects: Knight of Cups (2015) and an as-yet-untitled drama.
In his personal life, he devotes time to charities including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Foundation. He lives with his wife, Sibi Blazic, and their two children.
Chuck Norris is familiar to fans worldwide as the star of action films such as The Hitman (1991), The Delta Force (1986) and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990). He also starred in Missing in Action (1984) and its sequels, Firewalker (1986) and Sidekicks (1992). He was an executive producer of Walker, Texas Ranger (1993) as well as the star.
Chuck Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma, to Wilma (Scarberry) and Ray Norris, who was a truck driver, mechanic, and bus driver. The eldest of three children, he helped his mother raise his two younger brothers in Torrance, CA, where his family moved when he was 12. Norris attended North Torrance High School from its inception in September, 1955 until his graduation in June, 1958. He is one of several storied alumni from the school. Other NHS alumni include Bob Hite (1943-1981), who was the lead singer of “Canned Heat,” Chris Demaria, who was a professional baseball player in the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers organizations, Chris Mortensen, an analyst with ESPN, Hip-Hop DJ “Key-Kool” (Kikuo Nishi), and Wee-Man (Jason Acuna) of “JackAss fame.”
Norris joined the Air Force after graduating from high school. During a stint in Korea, he began to study the Asian martial art of Tang Soo Do. After returning home, he worked for Northrop Aviation and moonlighted as a karate instructor. Two years later he was teaching full-time and running a number of martial-arts schools. His students included Steve McQueen, Priscilla Presley and the Osmonds.
Norris’s fight career lasted from 1964-1974. Norris started off by losing his first three tournaments but, by 1966, he was almost unbeatable. Among the numerous titles he won were The National Karate Championships (1966), All-Star Championships (1966), World Middleweight Karate Championship (1967), All-American Karate Championship (1967), Internationals (1968), World Professional Middleweight Karate Championship (defeating Louis Delgado on 24 November 1968), All-American Championship (1968), National Tournament of Champions (1968), American Tang Soo Championship, and the North American Karate Championship. Norris compiled a fight record of 65-5 with wins over champions Joe Lewis, Skipper Mullins, Arnold Urquidez, Ronald L. Marchini, Victor Moore, Louis Delgado, and Steve Sanders. Of the five men to beat Norris, three were Allen Steen, Joe Lewis, and Norris’s last career defeat to Louis Delgado in 1968. Norris retired as undefeated Professional Full-Contact Middleweight Champion in 1974.
Norris, who was urged to get into acting by his friend Steve McQueen, skillfully incorporates his martial-arts knowledge into his series and feature film projects, stressing action and technique over violence. He is the author of the books “The Secret of Inner Strength” and “The Secret Power Within – Zen Solutions to Real Problems”. He works for many charities, including the Funds for Kids, Veterans Administration National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, the United Way, Make-a-Wish Foundation and KickStart, a nonprofit organization he created to help battle drugs and violence in schools. He also starred in the television movie Blood In, Blood Out (1993), broadcast on CBS.
Colin Farrell is one of Ireland’s biggest stars in Hollywood and abroad. His film presence has been filled with memorable roles that range from an inwardly tortured hit man, to an adventurous explorer, a determined-but-failing writer, and the greatest military leader in history.
Farrell was born on May 31, 1976 in Castleknock, Dublin, Ireland to Rita (Monaghan) and Eamon Farrell. His father and uncle were both professional athletes, and briefly it looked like Farrell would follow in their footsteps. Farrell auditioned for a part in the Irish boy band Boyzone, unsuccessfully. After dropping out of the Gaiety School of Acting, Farrell was cast in Ballykissangel (1996), a BBC television drama. “Ballykissangel” was not his first onscreen role. Farrell had previously been in The War Zone (1999), directed by Tim Roth and had appeared in the independent film Drinking Crude (1997). Farrell was soon to move on to bigger things.
Exchanging his thick Dublin accent for a light Texas drawl, Farrell acted in the gritty Tigerland (2000), directed by Joel Schumacher. Starring Farrell among a number of other budding young actors, the film portrays a group of new recruits being trained for the war in Vietnam. Farrell played the arrogant soldier Boz, drafted into the army and completely spiteful of authority. The film was praised by critics but made little money at the box office. It was Farrell’s first big role on film, and certainly not his last. Farrell followed up with American Outlaws (2001), where he played the notorious outlaw Jesse James with Scott Caan, son of legendary actor James Caan, in the role of Cole Younger. The film was a box-office flop and a critical failure. Immediately, Farrell returned to the war drama film that had made him famous. Co-starring in the war film Hart’s War (2002) opposite Bruce Willis, Farrell played the young officer captured by the enemy. The film was another failure. Farrell struck gold when he was cast in the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report (2002) that same year. Set in a futuristic time period, Farrell played the character Danny Witwer, a young member of the Justice Department who is sent after Tom Cruise’s character. The film was a smash hit, and praised by critics.
Farrell continued this success when he reunited with Joel Schumacher on the successful thriller Phone Booth (2002). Farrell played the role of the victim who is harassed by an unseen killer (Kiefer Sutherland) and is made to reveal his sins to the public. 2003 was a big year for Farrell. He starred in the crime thriller The Recruit (2003) as a young CIA man mentored by an older CIA veteran (Al Pacino). Pacino later stated that Farrell was the best actor of his generation. Farrell certainly continued to be busy that year with Daredevil (2003), which actually allowed him to keep his thick Irish accent. The film was another success for Farrell, as was the crime film S.W.A.T. (2003) where Farrell starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J. Farrell also acted in the Irish black comedy film Intermission (2003) and appeared another Irish film Veronica Guerin (2003) which reunited him with Joel Schumacher once again. The following year, Farrell acted in what is his most infamous film role yet: the title role in the mighty Oliver Stone film epic Alexander (2004), which is a character study of Alexander the Great as he travels across new worlds and conquers all the known world before him. Farrell donned a blond wig and retained his Irish accent, and gave a fine performance as Alexander. However, both he and the film were criticized. Despite being one of the highest grossing films internationally and doing a good job at the DVD sales, Farrell did not come out of the experience without a few hurts. Farrell attempted to rebound with his historical film The New World (2005). Reuniting with “Alexander” star Christopher Plummer, and also acting with Christian Bale, Farrell played the brave explorer John Smith, who would make first contacts with the Native peoples. The film did not do well at the box office, though critics praised the film’s stunning appearance and cinematography.
Farrell returned to act in Michael Mann’s film Miami Vice (2006) alongside Jamie Foxx. The film was a film adaptation of the famous television series, and did reasonably well at the box office. Farrell also acted in Ask the Dust (2006) with Salma Hayek and Donald Sutherland, though the film did not receive much distribution. The next year, Farrell acted alongside Ewan McGregor in the Woody Allen film Cassandra’s Dream (2007) which received mixed reviews from critics. Farrell followed up with the hilarious black comedy In Bruges (2008). Written and directed by Irish theatre director Martin McDonagh, the film stars Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two Irish hit men whose latest assignment went wrong, leaving them to hide out in Bruges, Belgium. The film has been one of Farrell’s most praised work, and he was nominated for a Golden Globe. As well as In Bruges (2008), Farrell acted alongside Edward Norton in the crime film Pride and Glory (2008) which was not as successful as the former film. As well as working with charity, and speaking at the Special Olympics World Games in 2007, he has donated his salary for Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) to Heath Ledger’s little daughter (who was left nothing in a will that had not been updated in time). Ledger had originally been cast in the film and was replaced by Farrell, Johnny Depp and Jude Law. The film was a critical and financial success, and Farrell also played a small role in Crazy Heart (2009) which had the Dubliner playing a country singer. Farrell even sang a few songs for the film’s soundtrack. As well as those small roles, Farrell took the lead role in the war film Triage (2009). Farrell incredibly lost forty-four pounds to play the role of a war photographer who must come to terms with what he has experienced in Kurdistan. While the film was finely made, with excellent performances from all involved, the film has received almost no distribution.
Farrell’s other leading role that year was in Neil Jordan’s Irish film Ondine (2009). In recent years, he co-starred in the comedy horror film Fright Night (2011), the science fiction action film Total Recall (2012), both remakes, and McDonagh’s second feature, and the black comedy crime film Seven Psychopaths (2012). Since the mid-2000s, Farrell has cleaned up his act, and far from being a Hollywood hell raiser and party animal, Farrell has shown himself to be a respectable and very talented actor.
He also starred in The Lobster (2015) and The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), both directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. For The Lobster he was nominated for an Golden Globe.
Actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 35 years.
Glover was born in San Francisco, California, to Carrie (Hunley) and James Glover, postal workers who were also active in civil rights. Glover trained at the Black Actors’ Workshop of the American Conservatory Theater. It was his Broadway debut in Fugard’s Master Harold…and the Boys, which brought him to national recognition and led director Robert Benton to cast Glover in his first leading role in 1984’s Oscar®-nominated Best Picture Places in the Heart.
The following year, Glover starred in two more Best Picture nominees: Peter Weir’s Witness and Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon film and went on to star in three hugely successful Lethal Weapon sequels. Glover has also invested his talents in more personal projects, including the award-winning To Sleep With Anger, which he executive produced and for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor; Bopha!; Manderlay; Missing in America; and the film version of Athol Fugard’s play Boesman and Lena. On the small screen, Glover won an Image Award and a Cable ACE Award and earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in the title role of the HBO movie Mandela. He has also received Emmy nominations for his work in the acclaimed miniseries Lonesome Dove and the telefilm Freedom Song. As a director, he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for Showtime’s Just a Dream.
Glover’s film credits range from the blockbuster Lethal Weapon franchise to smaller independent features, some of which Glover also produced. He co-starred in the critically acclaimed feature Dreamgirls directed by Bill Condon and in Po’ Boy’s Game for director Clement Virgo. He appeared in the hit feature Shooter for director Antoine Fuqua, Honeydripper for director John Sayles, and Be Kind, Rewind for director Michel Gondry.
Glover has also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for economic justice, and access to health care and education programs in the United States and Africa. For these efforts, Glover received a 2006 DGA Honor. Internationally, Glover has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program from 1998-2004, focusing on issues of poverty, disease, and economic development in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and serves as UNICEF Ambassador.
In 2005, Glover co-founded Louverture Films dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. The New York based company has a slate of progressive features and documentaries including Trouble the Water, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Africa Unite, award winning feature Bamako, and most recent projects Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan.
Danny Trejo was born Dan Trejo in Echo Park, Los Angeles, to Alice (Rivera) and Dan Trejo, a construction worker. A child drug addict and criminal, Trejo was in and out of jail for 11 years. While serving time in San Quentin, he won the lightweight and welterweight boxing titles. Imprisoned for armed robbery and drug offenses, he successfully completed a 12-step rehabilitation program that changed his life. While speaking at a Cocaine Anonymous meeting in 1985, Trejo met a young man who later called him for support. Trejo went to meet him at what turned out to be the set of Runaway Train (1985). Trejo was immediately offered a role as a convict extra, probably because of his tough tattooed appearance. Also on the set was a screenwriter who did time with Trejo in San Quentin. Remembering Trejo’s boxing skills, the screenwriter offered him $320 per day to train the actors for a boxing match. Director Andrey Konchalovskiy saw Trejo training Eric Roberts and immediately offered him a featured role as Roberts’ opponent in the film. Trejo has subsequently appeared in many other films, usually as a tough criminal or villain.
Daryl Christine Hannah was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She is the daughter of Susan Jeanne (Metzger), a schoolteacher and later a producer, and Donald Christian Hannah, who owned a tugboat/barge company. Her stepfather was music journalist/promoter Jerrold Wexler. Her siblings are Page Hannah, Don Hannah and Tanya Wexler. She has Scottish, Norwegian, Danish, Irish, English, and German ancestry.
Daryl graduated from the University of Southern California School of Theatre. She practiced ballet with Maria Tallchief and studied drama at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. In her twenties, she played keyboard and sang backup for Jackson Browne. Hannah, a tall (5′ 10″) blond beauty, with haunting blue-green eyes, was a natural for show biz.
She started with small roles, such as a student in The Fury (1978) and as Kim Basinger’s kid sister in Hard Country (1981). Daryl’s breakout role was as the acrobatic, beautiful replicant punk android Pris in Blade Runner (1982); Pris was the vixen who wanted to live beyond her allotted years and risked the wrath of the title character. Showing her versatility, from there she portrayed a mermaid, Madison, who falls in love with Tom Hanks’s character in Ron Howard’s zany comedy Splash (1984), and a Cro-Magnon in The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986). Hannah played Roxanne in the eponymous Steve Martins contemporary take on the Cyrano de Bergerac story, and co-starred as Elle Driver in Quintin Tarantino’s box office hit Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004).
Hannah has been a consistent, strong supporter of independent cinema, both acting in and producing many films, starring in such indie films as John Sayles’s Casa de los babys (2003) as well as his political satire Silver City (2004). She worked on several films with the revered Robert Altman, including The Gingerbread Man (1998), as well as several films with the Polish Brothers including Northfork (2003) and Jackpot (2001). Daryl starred in the experimental improvised Michael Radford film Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000) and made As a filmmaker, Hannah wrote, directed, and produced an award winning short film, entitled The Last Supper (1995). Hannah also directed, produced and shot the documentary Strip Notes (2002) which was inspired while researching her role for Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000) that was shown on HBO and UK’s Channel 4.
Daryl is in the process of shooting a documentary on Human Trafficking and has traveled undercover to South East Asia to document this atrocity and has become and advocates raising awareness and ending slavery. She has made over 40 video blogs for various websites including her popular dhlovelife.com. She designed dhlovelife.com (online since 2005) her website dedicated to sharing solutions on how to live more harmoniously with the planet and all other living things. Daryl has been passionate, committed and effective advocate for a more ethical relationship with each other and all life on the Planet. She has produced, hosted and shot numerous environmental awareness/ health documentaries, TV appearances and is a frequent speaker on both the conservative and progressive news.
Hannah has been a greening consultant for events such as the Virgin Music Festival, attended by over 150,000 people. Her many speaking engagements include keynote speeches at the UN Climate Change Summit, UN Global Business Conference on the environment, Natural and Organic Products Expo, LOHAS and numerous national and international universities, conferences and events. She has written articles on self sufficiency and sustainability for many magazines and has done a plethora of interviews on the topic in thousands of publications. The site features weekly five-minute inspirational video blogs which Daryl produces and films. There are daily news updates, alerts, community and access to goods and services. She is a member of the World Future Council, sits on the boards of the Sylvia Earle Alliance, Mission Blue, Eco America, Environmental Media Association (EMA), The Somaly Mam Foundation, and the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, She is the founder of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (SBA).
Dennis William Quaid was born on April 9, 1954 in Houston, Texas to Juanita Bonniedale “Nita” Quaid (née Jordan), a real estate agent & William Rudy Quaid, an electrician. He grew up in the Houston suburban city of Bellaire. He was raised a Baptist, and studied drama, Mandarin Chinese, and dance while a student at Bellaire High School. He continued study at the University of Houston, but dropped out before completing his degree. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film career where his brother, Randy Quaid, had already began to build a successful career. However, Dennis initially had trouble finding film roles, but began to gain notice when he appeared in Breaking Away (1979) and earned strong reviews for his role in The Right Stuff (1983). Aside from acting, Quaid is also a musician, and plays with his band, “The Sharks”. He holds a flying license and is a five handicap golfer.
Best known for his starring role as Det. Sonny Crockett on the hugely successful TV series Miami Vice (1984), Don Johnson is one of the stars who really defined the 1980s. As James “Sonny” Crockett he went toe-to-toe with drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, assassins, illegal arms-dealers and crooked cops on a weekly basis from 1984 to 1989, appearing in a grand total of 110 episodes. The show, which was executive-produced by four time Oscar-nominated director, producer and writer Michael Mann, paired Johnson with the equally cool Philip Michael Thomas as Det. Ricardo Tubbs and the calm and stoic presence of Edward James Olmos as Lt. Martin Castillo. It revolutionized television with its modern fashion, pop music, unique style and use of real locations. Johnson typically wore $1000 Armani, Versace and Hugo Boss suits over pastel cotton T-shirts, drove a Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona (later a Ferrari Testarossa) and lived on an Endeavour 42-foot sailboat named “St. Vitus’ Dance” with his pet alligator Elvis. He also had full use of an offshore powerboat. Still, “Miami Vice” had not only style but substance, and his portrayal of the Vietnam veteran turned vice detective turned Sonny Crockett into the world’s favorite cop. For his work on “Miami Vice” Johnson won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series in 1986, and was nominated in the same category a year later. He also picked up an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1985.
Johnson was born in Flat Creek, Missouri, the son Eva Lea (Wilson), a beautician, and Freddie Wayne Johnson, a farmer. As a kid, he wanted to become a professional bowler. Later, after a few brushes with the law at a young age, he discovered acting. After working on the stage for a while he ventured into films and television, but was not able to break into stardom despite, among other things, starring in the sci-fi cult classic A Boy and His Dog (1975).
Johnson starred in four failed TV pilots before landing his career-high role on “Miami Vice”, which propelled him to superstardom. He directed four highly praised episodes of the show. He balanced his work on the series by appearing in a praised TV-movie adaption of the William Faulkner novel The Long Hot Summer (1985) and the feature Sweet Hearts Dance (1988) with Susan Sarandon. After the series ended he focused solely on his film career. Although movies like Dead Bang (1989), The Hot Spot (1990) and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) did not fare well with the critics, quite a few of them have obtained a considerable cult following, with fans praising them as all being quality contributions to their genre. His film work has given Johnson the opportunity to work with legendary filmmakers like John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet and Dennis Hopper.
After working steadily, Johnson returned to TV in 1996 with the cop show Nash Bridges (1996). The show, which Johnson created and produced, did very well. It co-starred Cheech Marin and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe. Johnson played the title role, a captain in the San Francisco PD’s Special Investigations Unit. He was again paired with a flashy vehicle, this time an electric-yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible. After “Nash Bridges” went off the air Johnson kept a low profile, but continued to appear in films and on television. He starred in the failed WB courtroom drama Just Legal (2005), which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and traveled to Europe to make the Norwegian screwball comedy Long Flat Balls II (2008) and the Italian films Bastardi (2008) and Torno a vivere da solo (2008). As a supporting actor, he’s been seen in mainstream films such as Machete (2010), Django Unchained (2012) and Knives Out (2019).
Johnson had two pre-fame marriages that were annulled within a matter of days. In the early 1970s, he lived with rock groupie Pamela Des Barres. In 1972, Tippi Hedren, his co-star in The Harrad Experiment (1973), allowed him to date her daughter Melanie Griffith despite the fact she was only 14 and he was 22; the relationship culminated in a six-month marriage during 1976. From 1981 to 1985, he lived with actress Patti D’Arbanville and they had one son together. After short-lived liaisons with Cybill Shepherd, Barbra Streisand and a barely legal Uma Thurman, he remarried Griffith in 1989. The couple divorced again in 1996, after she left him for Antonio Banderas. Johnson was engaged to “Nash Bridges” co-star O’Keefe, but broke it off before they made it to the altar. Since 1999 he’s been married to former debutante Kelley Phleger, with whom he has three children.
Donnie Yen was born in Guangzhou, China. His mother, Bow-sim Mark, was a kung fu master and his father, Kylster Yen, a newspaper editor and amateur musician. When Donnie was just two years old, the family moved to Hong Kong and then, when he was 11, to Boston, Massachusetts.
There, Master Bow-sim Mark became a pioneer for Chinese martial arts in America, and it was only natural that her only son was trained from early childhood in the same skills. At the same time, Donnie was influenced by his parents’ love of music and reached a high level of proficiency as a pianist. All these interests would have a manifest influence on Yen’s later life.
In his teens, Donnie defined his own persona by rebelling against his parents edicts. Beyond the limitations of his mother’s school, Yen began training in various different fighting arts, including Japanese karate, Korean taekwondo and western boxing. Donnie also took up hip-hop and break-dancing. At the same time, he began spending his nights in Boston’s notorious Combat Zone. Given that he was by now a serious practitioner of modern Wu Shu, his parents decided to send him to Beijing to train at the Chinese capital’s famed Wu Shu academy.
It was when Yen returned to Hong Kong en route back to Boston that he met the famed martial arts movie director Yuen Woo-ping.
Donnie exploded onto the Hong Kong movie scene when he was cast in the lead role of director Yuen Woo-ping’s ‘Drunken Tai Chi’. His debut film immediately established him as a viable leading man, and Yen has remained a major figure in Chinese action cinema to this day.
Yen skills as a street dancer were to the fore in his second starring role, ‘Mismatched Couples’, in which he showed off his breakdance moves, as well as his general athleticism. This slapstick romantic comedy was produced by Hong Kong’s prestigious Cinema City studio.
Donnie was subsequently signed by the newly formed D&B Films, and cast in the hit cop actioner ‘Tiger Cage’. In this movie, and his follow-up features for the company (‘In the Line of Duty 4’, ‘Tiger Cage 2’), Yen showed off his own unique form of contemporary screen combat, a form that included elements of rapid fire kicking, Western boxing and grappling moves.
Having established a worldwide fan base, Yen moved on to star in a string of independent Asian action features before director Tsui Hark tapped him to co-star in ‘Once Upon A Time In China 2’. The film’s two action highlights saw Donnie’s character duel the legendary martial arts master Wong Fei-hung, played by his old friend Jet Li. The film brought Yen his first real attention as a thespian and he was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category at that year’s Hong Kong Film Awards.
Tsui Hark went on to produce a remake of King Hu’s classic ‘New Dragon Inn’, which provided another showcase role for Donnie as the film’s apparently invincible villain.
Donnie was reunited with director Yuen Woo-ping for ‘Iron Monkey’, a film which brought Yen’s acting and action skills both into focus. In ‘Iron Monkey’, Yen played the father of Wong Fei-hung, and its success prefigured that which he would later enjoy as another pugilistic patriarch in ‘Ip Man’. Donnie collaborated with Yuen on the action for the film, designing a new on-screen interpretation of Wong Fei-hung’s classic ‘Shadowless Kick’.
‘Iron Monkey’ was all the more remarkable in that, years after its Asian release, it was acquired by the American studio Miramax, re-cut, re-scored and given a wide release in US theatres. After premieres in New York and Los Angeles, the film enjoyed great acclaim from the American critics, and won a prize at that year’s Taurus Awards, an event held to celebrate action in cinema.
After working on a number of independent features, Yen went on to enjoy huge success on the small screen when he accepted a lucrative offer from Hong Kong’s ATV to film a series based on the Bruce Lee classic ‘Fist of Fury’. The show was the top-rated action drama show around the region, and was subsequently re-edited for international distribution on video.
Donnie went on to make his directorial debut with ‘Legend of the Wolf’, a stylish period actioner that even attracted the attention of legendary American film-maker Francis Coppola. The film, about an amnesiac warrior returning to his home village, has become a bona fide cult classic.
As director, Donnie followed ‘Legend of the Wolf’ with a very different venture, ‘Ballistic Kiss’, an urban thriller about a conflicted assassin. The film played at the prestigious Udine Festival in Italy, and took home awards at several other events, including the Japanese Yubari International Action Film Festival.
Donnie’s body of work had by then attracted the attention of Hollywood, and Yen was approached to choreograph the action for the mainstream franchise films ‘Highlander: Endgame’ and ‘Blade 2’. After a period where he was based in Los Angeles, Donnie returned East by way of the West when Jackie Chan requested that Yen play his nemesis in the hit ‘Shanghai Knights’, a shoot that took the star from Prague to London.
Yen returned to China to co-star in director Zhang Yimou’s epic wu xia master work ‘Hero’. Yen’s duel with Jet Li brought his skills to the emerging Mainland Chinese theatrical audience, and paved the way for Donnie to become the country’s biggest action star. The film received a wide US theatrical release from Miramax, and remains one of the most successful foreign language titles ever distributed in the America market.
Donnie returned to Hong Kong to choreograph the smash hit fantasy-horror-comedy ‘The Twins Effect’, and went on to enjoy his most productive partnership with a director. Beginning with the cop actioner ‘SPL’, Donnie teamed with helmer Wilson Yip for a series of very different films that Yen would star in and action choreograph and Yip would direct. Star and director subsequently teamed to create the comic book inspired fantasy actioner ‘Dragon Tiger Gate’ and the gritty police thriller ‘Flashpoint’, in which Donnie created what fans feel is the definitive on-screen MMA action scene. Yen was to return to this hard-hitting, urban action style for the later ‘Special ID’.
Donnie now found himself in demand as a leading man in a series of prestigious period actioners produced for the Chinese market. ‘Seven Swords’ premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and proved a hit with worldwide audiences. The film was released in North America by The Weinstein Company’s Dragon Dynasty label, and remains its biggest hit.
Yen also attracted rave reviews when he played an honorable general in ‘An Empress and her Warriors’ and an offbeat ghost-buster in Gordon Chan’s ‘Painted Skin’.
Yen took his career to a new level when he accepted producer Raymond Wong’s suggestion that he play Bruce Lee’s teacher, ‘Ip Man’, in an eponymous film relating the life of the great master. The film was a huge success in Hong Kong and China, and ‘Ip Man’ went on to find favor with audiences worldwide. Donnie also received a Best Actor nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
‘Ip Man’ confirmed Donnie’s position as China’s greatest action hero, and he was immediately signed to lead a strong ensemble cast for Teddy Chen’s ‘Bodyguards and Assassins’, produced by Peter Chan. Besides his on-screen performance, Donnie was also called on to choreograph the dynamic duel between himself and MMA champion Cung Le. The movie went on to sweep the board at the Hong Kong Film Awards winning Best Film, among many other prizes. Yen himself was nominated for Best Actor at the Chinese Hundred Flower awards.
Yen followed this with ‘Ip Man 2’, a rare example of a sequel that proved a match for its predecessor. The film followed Ip’s life journey to Hong Kong, where he faces both rival kung fu masters, led by the film’s choreographer, Sammo Hung, and a brutal foreign boxer, portrayed by the late Darren Shahlavi. ‘Ip Man 2′ was the biggest local hit of the year in China, and enjoyed a limited theatrical release in the US.
The film’s success led to Donnie being cast as a number of legendary Chinese heroes: He played General Qin-long in Daniel Lee’s ’14 Blades’, Guan Yu in ‘The Lost Bladesman’ and reprised Bruce Lee’s Chen Zhen role in Andrew Lau’s ‘Legend of the Fist’. Yen also used the lighter side of his screen persona to good effect in two installments of the hit Hong Kong comedy movie series ‘Alls Well Ends Well’.
Yen was cast opposite Tang Wei and Takeshi Kaneshiro in director Peter Chan’s ‘Wu Xia’ (aka ‘Dragon’), a dark, elegant period martial arts murder mystery. The film premiered to great acclaim at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and subsequently received a North American theatrical release from The Weinstein Company.
Donnie Yen played ‘The Monkey King’ in a hit reimagining of the Chinese classic. Donnie starred opposite screen legend Chow Yun-fat in the film, which smashed box office records in Mainland China.
Showing his versatility, Yen went on to play a kung fu master facing challenges in the modern era in director Teddy Chen’s ‘Kung Fu Jungle’. The movie, which premiered at the London Film Festival, paid tribute to the great history of Hong Kong martial arts cinema.
During the shooting of his ambitious, time travel themed action fantasy ‘Iceman 3D’, Yen was approached to revitalize the greatest brand in the history of Chinese martial arts cinema. ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny’ was shot primarily on location in New Zealand, with Yen in the lead role. The world class creative team gathered by producer Harvey Weinstein included legendary kung fu film director Yuen Woo-ping, acclaimed directors Peter Berg and Morten Tyldum (as producers), ‘X-Men’ series DP Tom Sigel as well as the Oscar-winning production, costume and FX designers from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ film series.
The film debuted in most international territories as a Netflix Original movie, making it the most widely seen wu xia of all time. ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Sword of Destiny’ also played at selected Imax theatres in North America, and enjoyed a wide theatrical release in China, where it was screened in its 3D version.
Yen reteamed with his former mentor Yuen Woo-ping for the hugely popular ‘Ip Man 3’. The film, with Wilson Ip as director and Yuen as choreographer, pitted the title character against legendary boxing champion Mike Tyson. The film out-performed all the previous movies featuring the character of Ip Man, smashing box office records throughout Asia. Following a high profile Los Angeles premiere, ‘Ip Man 3’ enjoyed a Los Angeles premiere and a US theatrical release, earning rave reviews in the mainstream American media.
Having conquered every territory beneath the Asian skies, Donnie accepted an invitation to join the cast of an entry in the world’s biggest film franchise. In ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, Yen plays one of the Rebel warriors responsible for the theft of the Death Star plans, the adventure that, within the ‘Star Wars’ universe, leads to the events of the very first film in the series. The film was shot primarily at the famed Elstree Studios in England.
Donnie had a role opposite Vin Diesel and his fellow Asian action star, Tony Jaa, in xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017), which filmed in Toronto, Canada.
Now firmly established as a leading player across the globe, Donnie Yen continues to present a unique blend of Eastern experience and Western innovation, of musical grace with martial impact, from Hong Kong to a galaxy far, far away….
Donnie is one of the leading martial arts choreographers in the world of action cinema. His skills behind the camera began developing from his early days in the industry, and he was very much involved with the action choreography of his films for D&B Films. He received his first full action directing credit on the Michelle Yeoh, kung fu drama ‘Wing Chun’, in which he also starred.
Yen further developed his style of choreography in the high pressure world of Hong Kong television, where he created the action for his hit series ‘Kung Fu Master’ and ‘Fist of Fury’, and as a low-budget film-maker, when he directed, starred in and choreographed the movies ‘Legend of the Wolf’ and ‘Ballistic Kiss’.
It was after Yen had helmed his first two Chinese features that Hollywood made its first serious bid for his services. He was signed to co-star in and action direct ‘Highlander: Endgame’, the latest in a series of fantasy actioners. The film, which starred Adrian Paul and Christopher Lambert, was produced by the US studio Dimension, and enjoyed a successful worldwide theatrical release.
Having relocated to Los Angeles, Yen paid his dues by directing action scenes for the Dimension action thriller ‘Stormbreaker’ and providing the fight sequences for the German TV series ‘The Puma’.
Donnie agreed to both action direct and cameo in the major New Line action franchise entry ‘Blade 2’, starring Wesley Snipes. The film, directed by Guillermo del Toro, was a huge hit, earning almost twice the box office of the original ‘Blade’.
Returning to Hong Kong, Yen found he now had a major contribution to make behind the camera, co-directing the SFX action adventure ‘The Twins Effect’. The film, which starred two of China’s top pop idols, told the tale of young vampire hunters with well-honed martial arts skills. A huge hit for Emperor, the film earned Yen his first Best Action Director prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
‘The Twins Effect’ saw Donnie start to introduce elements of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in his film fight scenes. He took the on-screen depiction of the style to new heights with the film ‘SPL’, released in the US as ‘Kill Zone’. Yen’s final reel duel with Sammo Hung is now regarded as a classic of the genre. The film won Donnie his second Best Action Choreography prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
He took his on-screen depiction of MMA to new heights in ‘Flashpoint’, which featured an even longer and more intense final showdown, this time between Yen and ‘Matrix Reloaded’ actor Collin Chou. The film won Donnie his third Best Action Choreography prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards, as well as a prize for Best Action in a Foreign Language Film at the Taurus Awards.
Yen explored different styles of screen combat when he choreographed the stunning kung fu fights for the period actioners ‘Legend of the Fist’ and ‘The Lost Bladesman’, the fantasy combat for ‘The Monkey King’ and the time travel adventure ‘Iceman Cometh 3D’.
Many fans feel that Yen delivered his best choreographic work to date in Peter Chan’s masterful ‘Wu Xia’, released in the US as ‘Dragon’. The film saw Donnie bring his own unique flair to classical Shaw Bros style kung fu action.
Donnie brought traditional Chinese martial arts into the modern era with ‘Kung Fu Jungle’, for which his work won yet another Best Choreography prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
Away from the cameras, Yen entered into the most rewarding partnership of his life when he married former beauty queen, Cissy Wang. The couple now has two children, a girl and boy, Jasmine and James.
Since melting audiences’ hearts – at the age of six – in Steven Spielberg’s beloved sci-fi blockbuster, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Drew Barrymore has emerged as one of the most endearing and talented actresses of her generation.
Drew Blyth Barrymore was born in Culver City, California, to actors John Drew Barrymore and Jaid Barrymore (née Ildiko Jaid Mako). Her father came from a long showbusiness legacy, as the son of actors John Barrymore and Dolores Costello, while her mother was the daughter of Hungarian refugees.
Despite a turbulent adolescence, Barrymore’s star was officially on the rise during the mid-1990s; following a string of “bad girl” parts in Poison Ivy (1992), Guncrazy (1992), and, well, Bad Girls (1994), she made notable appearances in Boys on the Side (1995), Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You (1996), and the game-changing horror hit Scream (1996).
An eclectic mix of high-profile and low-key film projects followed – such as The Wedding Singer (1998), Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998), Never Been Kissed (1999), Charlie’s Angels (2000), Donnie Darko (2001), Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) – proving to once-cynical audiences that Barrymore was not only a capable leading lady, but also a gifted and versatile actor.
Headline parts in 50 First Dates (2004), Fever Pitch (2005), and Music and Lyrics (2007) came next, followed by the critically-lauded Grey Gardens (2009), for which she earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for her portrayal of Edith Bouvier Beale.
In 2009, Barrymore – whose production company, Flower Films, has spawned several lucrative features – made her long-awaited directional debut with the comedy-drama Whip It (2009); TIME Magazine hailed her as “a sensitive director who knows how and when to let an emotional moment linger on the screen.”
Alongside a recurring guest spot (as the voice of Jillian; 2005-13) on Family Guy (1999), recent acting roles have included Going the Distance (2010), Big Miracle (2012), Blended (2014), Miss You Already (2015), and the acclaimed Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet (2017), on which she stars and serves as executive producer.
Edward Regan Murphy was born April 3, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, to Lillian Lynch (born: Lillian Laney), a telephone operator, and Charles Edward Murphy, a transit police officer who was also an amateur comedian and actor. After his father died, his mother married Vernon Lynch, a foreman at a Breyer’s Ice Cream plant. His brothers are Charlie Murphy & Vernon Lynch Jr. Eddie had aspirations of being in show business since he was a child. A bright kid growing up in the streets of New York, Murphy spent a great deal of time on impressions and comedy stand-up routines rather than academics. His sense of humor and wit made him a stand out amongst his classmates at Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School. By the time he was fifteen, Murphy worked as a stand-up comic on the lower part of New York, wooing audiences with his dead-on impressions of celebrities and outlooks on life.
In the early 1980s, at the age of 19, Murphy was offered a contract for the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players of Saturday Night Live (1975), where Murphy exercised his comedic abilities in impersonating African American figures and originating some of the show’s most memorable characters: Velvet Jones, Mr. Robinson, and a disgruntled and angry Gumby. Murphy made his feature film debut in 48 Hrs. (1982), alongside Nick Nolte. The two’s comedic and antagonistic chemistry, alongside Murphy’s believable performance as a streetwise convict aiding a bitter, aging cop, won over critics and audiences. The next year, Murphy went two for two, with another hit, pairing him with John Landis, who later became a frequent collaborator with Murphy in Coming to America (1988) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994). Beverly Hills Cop (1984) was the film that made Murphy a box-office superstar and most notably made him a celebrity worldwide, and it remains one of the all-time biggest domestic blockbusters in motion-picture history. Murphy’s performance as a young Detroit cop in pursuit of his friend’s murderers earned him a third consecutive Golden Globe nomination. Axel Foley became one of Murphy’s signature characters. On top of his game, Murphy was unfazed by his success, that is until his box office appeal and choices in scripts resulted into a spotty mix of hits and misses into the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Films like The Golden Child (1986) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) were critically panned but were still massive draws at the box office. In 1989, Murphy, coming off another hit, Coming to America (1988), found failure with his directorial debut, Harlem Nights (1989). Another 48 Hrs. (1990) and his turn as a hopeless romantic in Boomerang (1992) did little to resuscitate his career. However, his remake of Jerry Lewis’s The Nutty Professor (1996) brought Murphy’s drawing power back into fruition. From there, Murphy rebounded with occasional hits and misses but has long proven himself as a skilled comedic actor with laudable range pertaining to characterizations and mannerisms. Though he has grown up a lot since his fast-lane rise as a superstar in the 1980s, Murphy has lived the Hollywood lifestyle with controversy, criticism, scandal, and the admiration of millions worldwide for his talents. As Murphy had matured throughout the years, learning many lessons about the Hollywood game in the process, he settled down with more family-oriented humor with Doctor Dolittle (1998), Mulan (1998), Bowfinger (1999), and the animated smash Shrek (2001), in a supporting role that showcased Murphy’s comedic personality and charm. Throughout the 2000s, he further starred in the hits The Haunted Mansion (2003), Shrek 2 (2004), Dreamgirls (2006) (for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), Norbit (2007), Shrek the Third (2007), and Shrek Forever After (2010).
Roberts is an Academy Award nominee for his role in Runaway Train, and a three-time Golden Globe nominee for Runaway Train, Star 80, and King of the Gypsies.
In addition, Roberts received acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival for his role in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and It’s My Party. He also starred in La Cucaracha, which won Best Film at the Austin Film Festival, and for which Roberts won Best Actor at the New York Independent Film Festival that same year. Other notable performances include his roles in The Dark Knight, Final Analysis, and Paul Thoman Anderson’s Inherent Vice for Warner Bros., Millennium Films’ Lovelace and The Expendables for Lionsgate.
On television, Roberts’ memorable recurring roles include USA’s Suits, CSI and Code Black for CBS, NBC’s Heroes, and Crash for Starz. He has appeared in guest star roles on ABC’s Greys Anatomy, NBC’s Will & Grace, Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, CBS’ Hawaii Five-O, HBO’s Entourage, and so much more.
Upcoming, Roberts plays Matt Dillon’s doctor in Head Full of Honey, a Warner Bros. Germany production that is directed by Til Schweiger. Emily Mortimer and Nick Nolte also star. He also has a supporting role in the independent Hard Luck Love Song directed by Justin Corsbie. Roberts will play “Skip,” a grizzled doorman whom offers advice to characters played by Michael Dorman and Sophia Bush. The film also stars Dermott Mulroney, and American rapper, RZA. Finally, Roberts is set to recur as DEA boss “Erick Sheldon” in La Reina del Sur for Telemundo Global Studio and Netflix.
Roberts was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, and grew up in and around the Atlanta area. He began his career in theatre in New York City where he won the Theatre World Award for his role on Broadway in Burn This.
He resides in Los Angeles with his wife of 26 years and brood of felines.
Roberts is represented by Sovereign Talent Group, Cultivate Entertainment, and Miles Anthony Associates in the UK.
As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest black theatre in the country. In addition, he enrolled at Wayne State University to further develop his writing and acting skills and found time to establish the Actors’ Emsemble Theatre, where he and other talented young black writers directed and appeared in their own works. After graduating with a B.A. from Wayne State, he was rewarded a full scholarship to the M.F.A. program at the prestigious Yale School of Drama. While performing with the school’s repertory company, he was asked to appear in the Los Angeles production of Lonne Elder III’s musical “Daddy Goodness,” which led to his meeting Gordon Parks, who gave Hudson the costarring role in his first feature film, Leadbelly (1976). Unfortunately, all that followed “Leadbelly” was a year of “bit parts and some harsh lessons about Hollywood,” which led Hudson to enroll in another academic doctorate program at the University of Minnesota. He did not complete the program. Through his experience, he learned another vital lesson: “There are those who spend their lives studying it and those who spend their lives doing it.” Hudson definitely wanted to be in the second group. Keeping in mind this self-revelation, Hudson accepted the starring role of Jack Jefferson in the Minneapolis Theatre In The Round’s production of “The Great White Hope,” a role that he put “everything he had into,” including shaving his head. A series of starring and guest roles followed on such television shows as Fantasy Island (1977), The Incredible Hulk (1977), Little House on the Prairie (1974), Diff’rent Strokes (1978), Taxi (1978), One Day at a Time (1975), Gimme a Break! (1981), The A-Team (1983) and Webster (1983), as well as costarring roles in the TV movies White Mama (1980) with Bette Davis, Roots: The Next Generations (1979), Women of San Quentin (1983), California Girls (1985), Mad Bull (1977) and Love on the Run (1985). Other feature film credits include The Jazz Singer (1980), The Main Event (1979), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Penitentiary II (1982), Going Berserk (1983), Joy of Sex (1984) and, of course, the mega-hit Ghostbusters (1984).
Gary Edward Daniels (born 9 May 1963) is an English actor, a martial arts artist, a martial arts action film star, a producer, and a fight coordinator. . Daniels who was also interested in films, starred in two motion pictures in 1988 made in the Philippines. These were Teddy Page’s action martial arts film Final Reprisal (1988), and the jungle adventure, The Secret of King Mahis Island (1988). Daniels returned to the US, and continued competing. From 1991 to 1994, Daniels was seen acting in several action and martial arts films, within those he had a supporting role in Albert Pyun’s Knights (1993), and played an adversary who had showdowns with Jackie Chan in City Hunter (1993) and Don Wilson in Ring of Fire (1991), and Bloodfist IV: Die Trying (1992). On his own, Daniels was the star of the action films Capital Punishment (1991), American Streetfighter (1992), Firepower (1993), Full Impact (1993), and Deadly Target (1994).
In 1995, Daniels played the lead role of Kenshiro in Tony Randel’s American live-action version of Japanese manga Fist of the North Star. The film had a notable cast which included Costas Mandylor, Isako Washio Malcolm McDowell, among the many more. From its release on, the film was widely seen on television and on home video. While some disapproved of the liberties it took from its source material, it became a cult film over the years. From that point up until 2001, Daniels, now an established action film actor, acted in many films mixed between action, martial arts, and science fiction. Some of these efforts included Albert Pyun’s Heatseeker, Joseph Merhi’s Rage, Art Camacho’s Recoil, Jeff Burr’s Spoiler, Master P’s No Tomorrow, Isaac Florentine’s Cold Harvest, Joseph Zito’s Delta Force One: The Lost Patrol, Bloodmoon, White Tiger, Hawk’s Vengeance, Riot, Epicenter, Fatal Blade, City of Fear, Black Friday, Queen’s Messenger, and Witness to a Kill.
From 2004 on, Daniels took on more supporting roles, this includes the role of Ed Parker in the Bruce Lee biographical mini series The Legend of Bruce Lee, with contemporary martial artists Mark Dacascos, Ray Park, Ernest Miller, and Michael Jai White. He is also known for his supporting role as Bryan Fury in the 2009 live-action film Tekken, and its 2014 prequel, based upon the popular fighting game series. Daniels acted alongside Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, and Randy Couture in the Sylvester Stallone film The Expendables as Lawrence “The Brit” Sparks, an ally of the villain. Daniels appeared in La Linea , an action-crime film with an ensemble cast that includes Ray Liotta, Andy García, Armand Assante, etc. Next was Across the Line: The Exodus of Charlie Wright alongside Aidan Quinn, Andy García for the second time, Mario Van Peebles, etc. Other efforts among many include David DeCocteau’s The Wrong Child with Vivica A. Fox, the Wesley Snipes action vehicle Game of Death, Steve Austin’s action vehicle Hunt to Kill, Stu Bennett’s thriller I am Vengeance, etc. Some of the lead roles Daniels took are the martial arts fighting films Forced to Fight with Peter Weller, and Rumble. He was also the lead actor in the thriller Misfire, where he plays seasoned DEA agent, who descends into the underworld of Tijuana, and the jaded former hit man in Skin Traffik going against a gangster played by Mickey Rourke, with an ensemble cast including Daryl Hannah, Eric Roberts, Michael Madsen, Jeff Fahey, Dominique Swain, and Alan Ford.
Gerard James Butler was born in Paisley, Scotland, to Margaret and Edward Butler, a bookmaker. His family is of Irish origin. Gerard spent some of his very early childhood in Montreal, Quebec, but was mostly raised, along with his older brother and sister, in his hometown of Paisley. His parents divorced when he was a child, and he and his siblings were raised primarily by their mother, who later remarried. He had no contact with his father between the ages of two and 16 years old, after which time they became close. His father passed away when Gerard was in his early 20s. Butler went on to attend Glasgow University, where he studied to be a lawyer/solicitor. He was president of the school’s law society thanks to his outgoing personality and great social skills.
His acting career began when he was approached in a London coffee shop by actor Steven Berkoff, who later appeared alongside Butler in Attila (2001), who gave him a role in a stage production of “Coriolanus” (later, Butler played Tullus Aufidius in a big screen Coriolanus (2011). After that, Butler decided to give up law for acting. He was cast as Ewan McGregor’s character “Renton” in the stage adaptation of Trainspotting. His film debut was as Billy Connolly’s younger brother in Mrs. Brown (1997). While filming the movie in Scotland, he was enjoying a picnic with his mother near the River Tay when they heard the shouts of a young boy, who had been swimming with a friend, who was in some trouble. Butler jumped in and saved the young boy from drowning. He received a Certificate of Bravery from the Royal Humane Society. He felt he only did what anyone in the situation would have done.
His film career continued with small roles, first in the “James Bond” movie, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and then Russell Mulcahy’s Tale of the Mummy (1998). In 2000, Butler was cast in two breakthrough roles, the first being “Attila the Hun” in the USA Network mini-series, Attila (2001). The film’s producers wanted a known actor to play the part but kept coming back to Butler’s screen tests and decided he was their man. He had to lose the thick Scottish accent, but managed well. Around the time “Attila” was being filmed, casting was in progress for Wes Craven’s new take on the “Dracula” legacy. Also wanting a known name, Butler wasn’t much of a consideration, but his unending tenacity drove him to hounding the producers. Eventually, he sent them a clip of his portrayal of “Attila”. Evidently, they saw something because Dracula 2000 (2000) was cast in the form of Butler. Attila’s producers, thinking that his big-screen role might help with their own film’s ratings, finished shooting a little early so he could get to work on Dracula 2000 (2000). Following these two roles, Butler developed quite a fan base, and began appearing on websites and fancasts everywhere.
Since then, he has appeared in Reign of Fire (2002) as “Creedy” and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) as “Terry Sheridan”, alongside Angelina Jolie. The role that garnered him the most attention from both moviegoers and movie makers, alike, was that of “Andre Marek” in the big-screen adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel, Timeline (2003). Butler played an archaeologist who was sent back in time with a team of students to rescue a colleague. Last year, he appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, The Phantom of the Opera (2004), playing the title character in the successful adaptation of the stage musical. It was a role that brought him much international attention. Other projects include Dear Frankie (2004), The Game of Their Lives (2005) and Beowulf & Grendel (2005).
In 2007, he starred as Spartan “King Leonidas” in the Warner Bros. production 300 (2006), based on the Frank Miller graphic novel, and Shattered (2007), co-starring Pierce Brosnan and Maria Bello, which aired on network TV under the title, “Shattered”. He also starred in P.S. I Love You (2007), with Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank.
In 2007, he appeared in Nim’s Island (2008) and RocknRolla (2008), and completed the new Mark Neveldine / Brian Taylor film, Gamer (2009). His next films included The Ugly Truth (2009), co-starring Katherine Heigl, which began filming in April 2008, The Bounty Hunter (2010), How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Chasing Mavericks (2012) and Olympus Has Fallen (2013). In recent years, he has appeared in films such as Gods of Egypt (2016), Geostorm (2017), Den of Thieves (2018), The Vanishing (2018) and Hunter Killer (2018). Butler is related to writer-director Mark Flood.
Harrison Ford was born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy (Nidelman), a radio actress, and Christopher Ford (born John William Ford), an actor turned advertising executive. His father was of Irish and German ancestry, while his maternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Minsk, Belarus. Harrison was a lackluster student at Maine Township High School East in Park Ridge Illinois (no athletic star, never above a C average). After dropping out of Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he did some acting and later summer stock, he signed a Hollywood contract with Columbia and later Universal. His roles in movies and television (Ironside (1967), The Virginian (1962)) remained secondary and, discouraged, he turned to a career in professional carpentry. He came back big four years later, however, as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti (1973). Four years after that, he hit colossal with the role of Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). Another four years and Ford was Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Four years later and he received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his role as John Book in Witness (1985). All he managed four years after that was his third starring success as Indiana Jones; in fact, many of his earlier successful roles led to sequels as did his more recent portrayal of Jack Ryan in Patriot Games (1992). Another Golden Globe nomination came his way for the part of Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive (1993). He is clearly a well-established Hollywood superstar. He also maintains an 800-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Ford is a private pilot of both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and owns an 800-acre (3.2 km2) ranch in Jackson, Wyoming, approximately half of which he has donated as a nature reserve. On several occasions, Ford has personally provided emergency helicopter services at the request of local authorities, in one instance rescuing a hiker overcome by dehydration. Ford began flight training in the 1960s at Wild Rose Idlewild Airport in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, flying in a Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer, but at $15 an hour, he could not afford to continue the training. In the mid-1990s, he bought a used Gulfstream II and asked one of his pilots, Terry Bender, to give him flying lessons. They started flying a Cessna 182 out of Jackson, Wyoming, later switching to Teterboro, New Jersey, flying a Cessna 206, the aircraft he soloed in. Ford is an honorary board member of the humanitarian aviation organization Wings of Hope.
On March 5, 2015, Ford’s plane, believed to be a Ryan PT-22 Recruit, made an emergency landing on the Penmar Golf Course in Venice, California. Ford had radioed in to report that the plane had suffered engine failure. He was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was reported to be in fair to moderate condition. Ford suffered a broken pelvis and broken ankle during the accident, as well as other injuries.
Hong Kong’s cheeky, lovable and best known film star, Jackie Chan endured many years of long, hard work and multiple injuries to establish international success after his start in Hong Kong’s manic martial arts cinema industry.
Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on April 7, 1954, on Hong Kong’s famous Victoria Peak, to Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, and the family immigrated to Canberra, Australia, in early 1960. The young Jackie was less than successful scholastically, so his father sent him back to Hong Kong to attend the rigorous China Drama Academy, one of the Peking Opera schools. Chan excelled at acrobatics, singing and martial arts and eventually became a member of the “Seven Little Fortunes” performing troupe and began lifelong friendships with fellow martial artists / actors Sammo Kam-Bo Hung and Biao Yuen. Chan journeyed back and forth to visit his parents and work in Canberra, but eventually he made his way back to Hong Kong as his permanent home. In the early 1970s Chan commenced his movie career and interestingly appeared in very minor roles in two films starring then rising martial arts superstar Bruce Lee: Fist of Fury (1972), aka “Fist of Fury” aka “The Chinese Connection”, and the Warner Bros. production Enter the Dragon (1973). Not long after Lee’s untimely death Chan was often cast in films cashing in on the success of Bruce Lee by utilizing words like “fist”, “fury” or “dragon” in their US release titles.
Chan’s own film career was off and running and he swiftly appeared in many low-budget martial arts films that were churned out at a rapid fire pace by Hong Kong studios eager to satisfy the early 1970s boom in martial-arts cinema. He starred in Shaolin Wooden Men (1976) (aka “Shaolin Wooden Men”), To Kill with Intrigue (1977) (aka “To Kill With Intrigue”), Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1978) (aka “Half A Loaf of Kung Fu”) and Magnificent Bodyguards (1978) (aka “Magnificent Bodyguards”), which all fared reasonably well at the cinemas. However, he scored a major breakthrough with the hit Drunken Master (1978) (aka “Drunken Master”), which has become a cult favorite among martial arts film fans. Not too long after this, Chan made his directorial debut with The Young Master (1980) (aka “The Young Master”) and then “Enter the Dragon” producer Robert Clouse lured Jackie to the US for a film planned to break Jackie into the lucrative US market. Battle Creek Brawl (1980) (aka “Battle Creek Brawl”) featured Jackie competing in a “toughest Street fighter” contest set in 1940s Texas; however, Jackie was unhappy with the end result, and it failed to fire with US audiences. In a further attempt to get his name known in the US, Jackie was cast alongside Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore and Dean Martin in the Hal Needham-directed car chase flick The Cannonball Run (1981). Regrettably, Jackie was cast as a Japanese race driver and his martial arts skills are only shown in one small sequence near the film’s conclusion. Stateside success was still a few years away for Jackie Chan!
Undeterred, he returned to the Orient to do what he did best–make jaw-dropping action films loaded with amazing stunt work. Chan and his legendary stunt team were unparalleled in their ability to execute the most incredible fight scenes and action sequences, and the next decade would see some of their best work. Chan paired with the dynamic Sammo Hung Kam-Bo to star in Winners & Sinners (1983) (aka “Winners & Sinners”), Project A (1983) (aka “Project “A”), Wheels on Meals (1984) (aka “Wheels On Meals”), My Lucky Stars (1985) (aka “Winners & Sinners 2”), Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985) (aka “My Lucky Stars 2”, aka “Winners & Sinners 3″(. Chan then journeyed back to the US for another shot at that market, starring alongside Danny Aiello in The Protector (1985),) filmed in Hong Kong and New York. However, as with previous attempts, Jackie felt the US director–in this case, James Glickenhaus–failed to understand his audience appeal and the film played to lukewarm reviews and box-office receipts. Jackie did, however, decide to “harden” up his on-screen image somewhat and his next film, Police Story (1985) (aka “Police Story”) was a definite departure from previously light-hearted martial arts fare, and his fans loved the final product!
This was quickly followed up with the Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)-influenced Armour of God (1986) (aka “The Armour of God”), during filming of which Jackie mistimed a leap from a wall to a tree on location in Yugoslavia and fell many quite a few feet onto his head, causing a skull fracture. It was another in a long line of injuries that Chan has suffered as a result of doing his own stunt work, and he was soon back in front of the cameras. Project A 2 (1987) (aka “Project A: Part 2”), Police Story 2 (1988) (aka “Police Story 2”), Miracles: The Canton Godfather (1989) (aka “Mr. Canton and Lady Rose)”, Operation Condor (1991) (aka “Armour of God 2”) and Supercop (1992) (aka “Police Story 3”) were all sizable hits for Jackie, escalating his status to phenomenal heights in Asia, and to his loyal fan base around the globe. US success was now just around the corner for the the hard-working Jackie Chan, and it arrived in the form of the action film Rumble in the Bronx (1995) (aka “Rumble In The Bronx”, though it was actually filmed in Canada) that successfully blended humor and action to make a winning formula in US theaters.
Jackie did not waste any time and went to work on First Strike (1996) (aka “Police Story 4”), Mr. Nice Guy (1997) (aka “Mr. Nice Guy”), Who Am I? (1998) (aka “Who Am I”), which all met with positive results at the international box office. Jackie then went to work in the his biggest-budget US production, starring alongside fast-talking comedian Chris Tucker in the action / comedy Rush Hour (1998). The film was a bigger hit than “Rumble In the Bronx” and firmly established Jackie as a bona fide star in the US. Jackie then paired up with rising talent Owen Wilson to star in Shanghai Noon (2000) and its sequel, Shanghai Knights (2003), and re-teamed with Tucker in Rush Hour 2 (2001), as well as starring in The Tuxedo (2002), The Medallion (2003) and the delightful Around the World in 80 Days (2004). Not one to forget his loyal fan base, Jackie returned to more gritty and traditional fare with New Police Story (2004) (aka “New Police Story”) and The Myth (2005) (aka “The Myth”). The multi-talented Chan (he’s also a major recording star in Asia) shows no sign of slowing down and has long since moved out of the shadow of Bruce Lee, to whom he was usually compared early in his career.
Chan is truly one of the international film industry’s true maverick actor / director / stuntman / producer combinations – he has done it the hard way, and always his way to achieve his dreams and goals to be an international cinematic star. Off screen he has been directly involved in many philanthropic ventures providing financial assistance to schools and universities around the world. He is a UNICEF GoodWill Ambassador, and he has campaigned against animal abuse and pollution and assisted with disaster relief efforts to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami victims.
Jason Statham was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, to Eileen (Yates), a dancer, and Barry Statham, a street merchant and lounge singer. He was a Diver on the British National Diving Team and finished twelfth in the World Championships in 1992. He has also been a fashion model, black market salesman and finally of course, actor. He received the audition for his debut role as Bacon in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) through French Connection, for whom he was modeling. They became a major investor in the film and introduced Jason to Guy Ritchie, who invited him to audition for a part in the film by challenging him to impersonate an illegal street vendor and convince him to purchase fake jewelry. Jason must have been doing something right because after the success of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) he teamed up again with Guy Ritchie for Snatch (2000), with co-stars including Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina and Benicio Del Toro. After Snatch (2000) came Turn It Up (2000) with US music star Ja Rule, followed by a supporting actor role in the sci-fi film Ghosts of Mars (2001), Jet Li’s The One (2001) and another screen partnership with Vinnie Jones in Mean Machine (2001) under Guy Ritchie’s and Matthew Vaughn’s SKA Films. Finally in 2002 he was cast as the lead role of Frank Martin in The Transporter (2002). Jason was also in the summer 2003 blockbuster remake of The Italian Job (1969), The Italian Job (2003), playing Handsome Rob.
Throughout the 2000s, Statham became a star of juicy action B-films, most significantly Crank (2006) and Crank: High Voltage (2009), and also War (2007), opposite Jet Li, and The Bank Job (2008) and Death Race (2008), among others. In the 2010s, his reputation for cheeky and tough leading performances led to his casting as Lee Christmas in The Expendables (2010) and its sequels, the comedy Spy (2015), and as (apparently) reformed villain Deckard Shaw in Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015), The Fate of the Furious (2017), and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019). Apart from these blockbusters, he continued headlining B-films such as Homefront (2013).
In 2017, he had his first child, a son with his partner, model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Jean Reno was born Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez in Casablanca, Morocco, to Spanish parents (from Andalucía) who moved to North Africa to seek work. His father was a linotypist. Reno settled in France at 17. He began studying drama and has credits in French television and theater as well as films. His first two marriages both ended in divorce, and he had two children with each of them. He keeps homes in Paris and Los Angeles.
John Cusack is, like most of his characters, an unconventional hero. Wary of fame and repelled by formulaic Hollywood fare, he has built a successful career playing underdogs and odd men out–all the while avoiding the media spotlight. John was born in Evanston, Illinois, to an Irish-American family. With the exception of mom Nancy (née Carolan), a former math teacher, the Cusack clan is all show business: father Dick Cusack was an actor and filmmaker, and John’s siblings Joan Cusack, Ann Cusack, Bill Cusack and Susie Cusack are all thespians by trade. Like his brother and sisters, John became a member of Chicago’s Piven Theatre Workshop while he was still in elementary school. By age 12, he already had several stage productions, commercial voice overs and industrial films under his belt. He made his feature film debut at 17, acting alongside Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy in the romantic comedy Class (1983). His next role, as a member of Anthony Michael Hall’s geek brigade in Sixteen Candles (1984), put him on track to becoming a teen-flick fixture. Cusack remained on the periphery of the Brat Pack, sidestepping the meteoric rise and fall of most of his contemporaries, but he stayed busy with leads in films like The Sure Thing (1985) and Better Off Dead… (1985). Young Cusack is probably best remembered for what could be considered his last adolescent role: the stereo-blaring romantic Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything (1989). A year later, he hit theaters as a grown-up, playing a bush-league con man caught between his manipulative mother and headstrong girlfriend in The Grifters (1990).
The next few years were relatively quiet for the actor, but he filled in the gaps with off-screen projects. He directed and produced several shows for the Chicago-based theater group The New Criminals, which he founded in 1988 (modeling it after Tim Robbins’ Actors’ Gang in Los Angeles) to promote political and avant-garde stage work. Four years later, Cusack’s high school friends Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis joined him in starting a sister company for film, New Crime Productions. New Crime’s first feature was the sharply written comedy Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), which touched off a career renaissance for Cusack. In addition to co-scripting, he starred as a world-weary hit man who goes home for his ten-year high school reunion and tries to rekindle a romance with the girl he stood up on prom night (Minnie Driver). In an instance of life imitating art, Cusack actually did go home for his ten-year reunion (to honor a bet about the film’s financing) and ended up in a real-life romance with Driver. Cusack’s next appearance was as a federal agent (or, as he described it, “the first post-Heston, non-biblical action star in sandals”) in Con Air (1997), a movie he chose because he felt it was time to make smart business decisions. He followed that with Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), in which he played a Yankee reporter entangled in a Savannah murder case.
Cusack has always favored offbeat material, so it was no surprise when he turned up in the fiercely original Being John Malkovich (1999). Long-haired, bearded and bespectacled, he was almost unrecognizable in the role of a frustrated puppeteer who stumbles across a portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich. The convincing performance won him a Best Actor nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards. In 2000, Cusack was back to his clean-shaven self in High Fidelity (2000), another New Crime production. He worked with Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis to adapt Nick Hornby’s popular novel (relocating the story to their native Chicago), then starred as the sarcastic record store owner who revisits his “Top 5” breakups to find out why he’s so unlucky in love. The real Cusack has been romantically linked with several celebs, including Driver, Alison Eastwood, Claire Forlani and Neve Campbell. He’s also something of a family man, acting frequently opposite sister Joan Cusack and pulling other Cusacks into his films on a regular basis. He seems pleased with the spate of projects on his horizon, but admits that he still hasn’t reached his ultimate goal: to be involved in a “great piece of art”.
Keanu Charles Reeves, whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian, was born September 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon. He is the son of Patricia Taylor, a showgirl and costume designer, and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, a geologist. Keanu’s father was born in Hawaii, of British, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and Chinese ancestry, and Keanu’s mother is originally from England. After his parents’ marriage dissolved, Keanu moved with his mother and younger sister, Kim Reeves, to New York City, then Toronto. Stepfather #1 was Paul Aaron, a stage and film director – he and Patricia divorced within a year, after which she went on to marry (and divorce) rock promoter Robert Miller and hair salon owner Jack Bond. Reeves never reconnected with his biological father. In high school, Reeves was lukewarm toward academics but took a keen interest in ice hockey (as team goalie, he earned the nickname “The Wall”) and drama. He eventually dropped out of school to pursue an acting career.
After a few stage gigs and a handful of made-for-TV movies, he scored a supporting role in the Rob Lowe hockey flick Youngblood (1986), which was filmed in Canada. Shortly after the production wrapped, Reeves packed his bags and headed for Hollywood. Reeves popped up on critics’ radar with his performance in the dark adolescent drama, River’s Edge (1986), and landed a supporting role in the Oscar-nominated Dangerous Liaisons (1988) with director Stephen Frears.
His first popular success was the role of totally rad dude Ted “Theodore” Logan in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). The wacky time-travel movie became something of a cultural phenomenon, and audiences would forever confuse Reeves’s real-life persona with that of his doofy on-screen counterpart. He then joined the casts of Ron Howard’s comedy, Parenthood (1989) and Lawrence Kasdan’s I Love You to Death (1990).
Over the next few years, Reeves tried to shake the Ted stigma with a series of highbrow projects. He played a slumming rich boy opposite River Phoenix’s narcoleptic male hustler in My Own Private Idaho (1991), an unlucky lawyer who stumbles into the vampire’s lair in Dracula (1992), and Shakespearean party-pooper Don John in Much Ado About Nothing (1993).
In 1994, the understated actor became a big-budget action star with the release of Speed (1994). Its success heralded an era of five years in which Reeves would alternate between small films, like Feeling Minnesota (1996) and The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997), and big films like A Walk in the Clouds (1995) and The Devil’s Advocate (1997). (There were a couple misfires, too: Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and Chain Reaction (1996).) After all this, Reeves did the unthinkable and passed on the Speed sequel, but he struck box-office gold again a few years later with the Wachowski siblings’ cyberadventure, The Matrix (1999).
Now a bonafide box-office star, Keanu would appear in a string of smaller films — among them The Replacements (2000), The Watcher (2000), The Gift (2000), Sweet November (2001), and Hardball (2001) – before The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) were both released in 2003.
Since the end of The Matrix trilogy, Keanu has divided his time between mainstream and indie fare, landing hits with Something’s Gotta Give (2003), The Lake House (2006), and Street Kings (2008). He’s kept Matrix fans satiated with films such as Constantine (2005), A Scanner Darkly (2006), and The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). And he’s waded back into art-house territory with Ellie Parker (2005), Thumbsucker (2005), The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009), and Henry’s Crime (2010).
Most recently, as post-production on the samurai epic 47 Ronin (2013) waged on, Keanu appeared in front of the camera in Side by Side (2012), a documentary on celluloid and digital filmmaking, which he also produced. He also directed another Asian-influenced project, Man of Tai Chi (2013).
In 2014, Keanu played the title role in the action revenge film John Wick (2014), which became popular with critics and audiences alike. He reprised the role in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017), taking the now-iconic character to a better opening weekend and even more enthusiastic reviews than the first go-around.
Kurt Vogel Russell on March 17, 1951 in Springfield, Massachusetts to Louise Julia Russell (née Crone), a dancer & Bing Russell, an actor. He is of English, German, Scottish and Irish descent. His first roles were as a child on television series, including a lead role on the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963). Russell landed a role in the Elvis Presley movie, It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963), when he was eleven years old. Walt Disney himself signed Russell to a 10-year contract, and, according to Robert Osborne, he became the studio’s top star of the 1970s. Having voiced adult Copper in the animated Disney film The Fox and the Hound (1981), Russell is one of the few famous child stars in Hollywood who has been able to continue his acting career past his teen years.
Kurt spent the early 1970s playing minor league baseball. In 1979, he gave a classic performance as Elvis Presley in John Carpenter’s ABC TV movie Elvis (1979), and married the actress who portrayed Priscilla Presley in the film, Season Hubley. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for the role. He followed with roles in a string of well-received films, including Used Cars (1980) and Silkwood (1983), for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. During the 1980s, he starred in several films by director Carpenter; they created some of his best-known roles, including the infamous anti-hero Snake Plissken in the futuristic action film Escape from New York (1981) (and later in its sequel Escape from L.A. (1996)), Antarctic helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady in the horror film The Thing (1982), and Jack Burton in the fantasy film Big Trouble in Little China (1986), all of which have since become cult classics.
In 1983, he became reacquainted with Goldie Hawn (who appeared with him in The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968)) when they worked together on Swing Shift (1984). The two have lived together ever since. They made another film together, Garry Marshall’s comedy Overboard (1987). His other 1980s titles include The Best of Times (1986), Tequila Sunrise (1988), Winter People (1989) and Tango & Cash (1989).
In 1991, he headlined the firefighter drama Backdraft (1991), he starred as Wyatt Earp in the Western film Tombstone (1993), and had a starring role as Colonel Jack O’Neil in the science fiction film Stargate (1994). In the mid-2000s, his portrayal of U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in Miracle (2004) won the praise of critics. In 2006, he appeared in the disaster-thriller Poseidon (2006), and in 2007, in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof (2007) segment from the film Grindhouse (2007). Russell appeared in The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014), a documentary about his father and the Portland Mavericks, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. Russell starred in the Western films Bone Tomahawk (2015) and The Hateful Eight (2015), and had a leading role in the dramatization Deepwater Horizon (2016). He also co-starred in the action sequels Furious 7 (2015) and The Fate of the Furious (2017).
Russell and Goldie Hawn live on a 72-acre retreat, Home Run Ranch, outside of Aspen. He has two sons, Boston Russell (from his marriage to Hubley) and Wyatt Russell (with Hawn). He also raised Hawn’s children, actors Oliver Hudson and Kate Hudson, who consider him their father. Russell is also an avid gun enthusiast, a hunter and a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. He is also an FAA-licensed private pilot holding single/multi-engine and instrument ratings, and is an Honorary Board Member of the humanitarian aviation organization Wings of Hope.
An intense, versatile actor as adept at playing clean-cut FBI agents as he is psychotic motorcycle-gang leaders, who can go from portraying soulless, murderous vampires to burned-out, world-weary homicide detectives, Lance Henriksen has starred in a variety of films that have allowed him to stretch his talents just about as far as an actor could possibly hope. He played “Awful Knoffel” in the TNT original movie Evel Knievel (2004), directed by John Badham and executive produced by Mel Gibson. Henriksen portrayed “Awful Knoffel” in this project based on the life of the famed daredevil, played by George Eads. Henriksen starred for three seasons (1996-1999) on Millennium (1996), Fox-TV’s critically acclaimed series created by Chris Carter (The X-Files (1993)). His performance as Frank Black, a retired FBI agent who has the ability to get inside the minds of killers, landed him three consecutive Golden Globe nominations for “Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Drama Series” and a People’s Choice Award nomination for “Favorite New TV Male Star”.
Henriksen was born in New York City. His mother, Margueritte, was a waitress, dance instructor, and model. His father, James Marin Henriksen, who was from Tønsberg, Norway, was a boxer and merchant sailor. Henriksen studied at the Actors Studio and began his career off-Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s “Three Plays of the Sea.” One of his first film appearances was as an FBI agent in Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975), followed by parts in Lumet’s Network (1976) and Prince of the City (1981). He then appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) with Richard Dreyfuss and François Truffaut, Damien: Omen II (1978) and in Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff (1983), in which he played Mercury astronaut Capt. Wally Schirra.
James Cameron cast Henriksen in his first directorial effort, Piranha II: The Spawning (1981), then used him again in The Terminator (1984) and as the android Bishop in the sci-fi classic Aliens (1986). Sam Raimi cast Henriksen as an outrageously garbed gunfighter in his quirky western The Quick and the Dead (1995). Henriksen has also appeared in what has developed into a cult classic: Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987), in which he plays the head of a clan of murderous redneck vampires. He was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the TNT original film The Day Lincoln Was Shot (1998).
In addition to his abilities as an actor, Henriksen is an accomplished painter and potter. His talent as a ceramist has enabled him to create some of the most unusual ceramic artworks available on the art market today. He resides in Southern California with his wife Jane and their five-year-old daughter Sage.
Critically hailed for his forceful, militant, authoritative figures and one of Hollywood’s most talented and versatile performers, Laurence (John) Fishburne III has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a number of NAACP Image honors.
Born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961, to Hattie Bell (Crawford), a teacher, and Laurence John Fishburne, Jr., a juvenile corrections officer. His mother transplanted her family to Brooklyn after his parents divorced. At the age of 10, the young boy appeared in his first play, “In My Many Names and Days,” at a cramped little theater space in Manhattan. He continued on but managed to avoid the trappings of a child star per se, considering himself more a working child actor at the time. Billing himself as Larry Fishburne during this early phase, he never studied or was trained in the technique of acting.
In 1973, at the age of 12, young Laurence won a recurring role on the daytime soap One Life to Live (1968) that lasted three seasons. He subsequently made his film debut in the ghetto-themed Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975). At 14 Francis Ford Coppola cast him in Apocalypse Now (1979), which filmed for two years in the Philippines. Laurence didn’t work for another year and a half after that long episode. A graduate of Lincoln Square Academy, Coppola was impressed enough with Laurence to hire him again down the line with featured roles in Rumble Fish (1983), The Cotton Club (1984) and Gardens of Stone (1987).
Throughout the 1980s, he continued to build up his film and TV credit list with featured roles despite little fanfare. A recurring role as Cowboy Curtis on the kiddie show Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986) helped him through whatever lean patches there were at the time. TV guest appearances at this time included “Trapper John,” “M*A*S*H*,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Miami Vice,” “Spenser: For Hire” and “The Equalizer.”
With the new decade (1990s) came out-and-out stardom for Laurence. A choice lead in John Singleton’s urban tale Boyz n the Hood (1991) catapulted him immediately into the front of the film ranks. Set in LA’s turbulent South Central area, his potent role as a morally minded divorced father who strives to rise above the ignorance and violence of his surroundings, Laurence showed true command and the ability to hold up any film.
On stage, Laurence would become invariably linked to playwright August Wilson and his 20th Century epic African-American experience after starring for two years as the eruptive ex-con in “Two Training Running.” For this powerful, mesmerizing performance, Laurence won nearly every prestigious theater award in the books (Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Theatre World). It was around the time of this career hallmark that he began billing himself as “Laurence” instead of “Larry.” More awards and accolades came his way. In addition to an Emmy for the pilot episode of the series “Tribeca,” he was nominated for his fine work in the quality mini-movies The Tuskegee Airmen (1995) and Miss Evers’ Boys (1997).
On the larger screen, both Laurence and Angela Bassett were given Oscar nominations for their raw, seething portrayals of rock stars Ike and Tina Turner in the film What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993). To his credit, he managed to take an extremely repellent character and make it a sobering and captivating experience. A pulp box-office favorite as well, he originated the role of Morpheus, Keanu Reeves’ mentor, in the exceedingly popular futuristic sci-fi The Matrix (1999), best known for its ground-breaking special effects. He wisely returned for its back-to-back sequels.
Into the millennium, Laurence extended his talents by making his screenwriting and directorial debut in Once in the Life (2000), in which he also starred. The film is based on his own critically acclaimed play “Riff Raff,” which he staged five years earlier. In 1999, he scored a major theater triumph with a multi-racial version of “The Lion in Winter” as Henry II opposite Stockard Channing’s Eleanor of Acquitaine. On film, Fishburne has appeared in a variety of interesting roles in not-always-successful films. Never less than compelling, a few of his more notable parts include an urban speed chess player in Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993); a military prisoner in Cadence (1990); a college professor in Singleton’s Higher Learning (1995); a CIA operative in Bad Company (1995); the title role in Othello (1995) (he was the first black actor to play the part on film); a spaceship rescue team leader in the sci-fi horror Event Horizon (1997); a Depression-era gangster in Hoodlum (1997); a dogged police sergeant in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River (2003); a spelling bee coach in Akeelah and the Bee (2006); and prominent roles in the mainstream films Predators (2010) and Contagion (2011). He returned occasionally to the theatre. In April 2008, he played Thurgood Marshall in the one-man show “Thurgood” and won a Drama Desk Award. It was later transferred to the TV screen and earned an Emmy nomination.
In the fall of 2008, Fishburne replaced William Petersen as the male lead investigator on the popular CBS drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000), but left the show in 2011 to refocus on films and was in turn replaced by Ted Danson. Having since had a regular role as “Pops” in the comedy Black-ish (2014), he has also been seen on the bigger screen in the Superman movies Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) as Daily Planet chief Perry White; played a hired assassin in the thriller Standoff (2016); portrayed a minister and former Vietnam War vet in Last Flag Flying (2017); and essayed the role of a revengeful prison warden in Imprisoned (2018).
Fishburne has two children, Langston and Montana, from his first marriage to actress Hajna O. Moss. In September 2002, Fishburne married Cuban-American actress Gina Torres.
Born in Salisbury, Maryland, USA, following high school Linda studied for two years at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, before moving on to acting studies in New York. In New York she attended acting workshops given by Lee Strasberg. Her first parts were small parts in TV series, with her biggest break coming with her role in The Terminator (1984). Most known to public at large from her part in the TV series Beauty and the Beast (1987) (before Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), at least).
Born to immigrants in Queens, New York, Lucy Liu has always tried to balance an interest in her cultural heritage with a desire to move beyond a strictly Asian-American experience. Lucy’s mother, Cecilia, a biochemist, is from Beijing, and her father, Tom Liu, a civil engineer, is from Shanghai. Once relegated to “ethnic” parts, the energetic actress is finally earning her stripes as an across-the-board leading lady.
Liu graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1986 and enrolled in New York University; discouraged by the “dark and sarcastic” atmosphere of NYU, however, she transferred to the University of Michigan after her freshman year. She graduated from UM with a degree in Asian Languages and Cultures, managing to squeeze in some additional training in dance, voice, fine arts, and acting. During her senior year, Liu auditioned for a small part in a production of Alice in Wonderland and walked away with the lead; encouraged by the experience, she decided to take the plunge into professional acting. She moved to Los Angeles and split her time between auditions and food service day jobs, eventually scoring a guest appearance as a waitress on Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990). That performance led to more walk-on parts in shows like NYPD Blue (1993), ER (1994), and The X-Files (1993). In 1996, she was cast as an ambitious college student on Rhea Perlman’s ephemeral sitcom Pearl (1996).
Liu first appeared on the big screen as an ex-girlfriend in Jerry Maguire (1996) (she had previously filmed a scene in the indie Bang (1995), but it was shelved for two years). She then waded through a series of supporting parts in small films before landing her big break on Ally McBeal (1997). Liu initially auditioned for the role of Nelle Porter, which went to Portia de Rossi, but writer-producer David E. Kelley was so impressed with her that he promised to write a part for her in an upcoming episode. The part turned out to be that of growling, ill-tempered lawyer Ling Woo, which Liu filled with such aplomb that she was signed on as a regular cast member.
The “Ally” win gave Liu’s film career a much-needed boost–in 1999, she was cast as a dominatrix in the Mel Gibson action flick Payback (1999), and as a hitchhiker in the ill-received boxing saga Play It to the Bone (1999). The next year brought even larger roles: first as the kidnapped Princess Pei Pei in Jackie Chan’s western Shanghai Noon (2000), then as one-third of the comely crime-fighting trio in Charlie’s Angels (2000).
When she’s not hissing at clients or throwing well-coiffed punches, Liu keeps busy with an eclectic mix of off-screen hobbies. She practices the martial art of Kali-Eskrima-Silat (knife-and-stick fighting), skis, rock climbs, rides horses, and plays the accordion. In 1993 she exhibited a collection of multimedia art pieces at the Cast Iron Gallery in SoHo (New York), after which she won a grant to study and create art in China. Her hectic schedule doesn’t leave much time for romantic intrigue, but Liu says she prefers to keep that side of her life uncluttered.
American actor Mark Wahlberg is one of a handful of respected entertainers who successfully made the transition from teen pop idol to acclaimed actor. A Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for The Departed (2006) who went on to receive positive critical reviews for his performance in The Fighter (2010), Wahlberg also is a solid comedy actor, proven by his starring role in Ted (2012).
Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg was born June 5, 1971 in a poor working class district, Dorchester, of Boston, Massachusetts. He is the son of Alma Elaine (Donnelly), a nurse’s aide and clerk, and Donald Edward Wahlberg, a delivery driver. Wahlberg is the youngest of nine children. He is of Swedish (from his paternal grandfather), French-Canadian, English, Irish and Scottish, descent. The large Wahlberg brood didn’t have a lot growing up, especially after his parents divorced when he was eleven. The kids crammed into a three-bedroom apartment, none of them having very much privacy. Mark’s mother has said that after the divorce, she became very self-absorbed with her own life. She has blamed herself for her son’s subsequent problems and delinquency. Wahlberg dropped out of high school at age fourteen (but later got his GED) to pursue a life of petty crime and drugs. He’d spend his days scamming and stealing, working on the odd drug deal before treating himself to the substances.
The young man also had a violent streak – one which was often aimed at minorities. At age sixteen, he was convicted of assault against two Vietnamese men after he had tried to rob them. As a result of his assault conviction, he was sentenced to serve 50 days in prison at Deer Island penitentiary. Whilst there, he began working out to pass time and, when he emerged at the end of his sentence, he had gone from being a scrawny young kid to a buff young man. Wahlberg also credits jail time as being his motivation to improve his lifestyle and leave crime behind him.
Around this time, his older brother Donnie Wahlberg had become an overnight teen idol as a member of the 1980s boy band New Kids on the Block. A precursor to the boy-band craze, the group was dominating the charts and were on top of their game. Mark himself had been an original member of the band but had backed out early on – uncomfortable with the squeaky clean image of the group. Donnie used his connections in the music business to help his little brother secure a recording contract, and soon the world was introduced to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, with Wahlberg as a bad-boy rapper who danced in his boxers. Despite a lack of singing ability, promoters took to his dance moves and a physique they knew teenage girls would love.
Donnie scripted some easy songs for Mark, who collected a troupe of dancers and a DJ to become his “Funky Bunch” and “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch” was born. His debut album, “Music for the People”, was a smash hit, which was propelled along by the rapper’s willingness to disrobe down to boxer-briefs on stage, not to mention several catchy tunes. Teenage girls thrilled to the rapping “bad boy”. Record producer David Geffen saw in Wahlberg a cash-cow of marketing ability. After speaking to designer Calvin Klein, Marky Mark was set up as the designer’s chief underwear model.
His scantily clad figure soon adorned billboards across the nation. Ironically, while the New Kids on the Block’s fame was dwindling as audiences tired of their syrupy lyrics, “Marky Mark’s” bad boy image was becoming even more of a commodity. He was constantly in the headlines (often of the tabloids) after multiple scandals. In 1992, he released a book dedicated to his penis. Wahlberg was constantly getting into rumored fights, most memorably with Madonna and her entourage at a Los Angeles party. While things were always intense, they were relatively harmless and made for enjoyable reading for the public. However, when the story of his arrest for assault (and the allegations of racism) broke in the press, things took on a decidedly darker note. People were not amused. Soon after, while on a British talk show along with rapper Shabba Ranks, he got into even more trouble. After Ranks made the statement that gays should be crucified, Wahlberg was accused of condoning the comments by his silence. Marky Mark was suddenly surrounded by charges of brutality, homophobia and racial hatred. His second album, “You Gotta Believe”, had not been faring well and, after the charges surfaced, it plummeted from the charts.
Adding to the hoopla, Wahlberg was brought to court for allegedly assaulting a security guard. He was ordered to make amends by appearing in a series of anti-bias advertisements. Humbled and humiliated by his fall from grace in the music world, Wahlberg decided to pursue another angle, acting. He dropped the “Marky Mark” moniker and became known simply as Mark Wahlberg. His first big screen role came in Penny Marshall’s Renaissance Man (1994). Despite the name change, many people snickered at the idea of the has-been rapper thinking he could make it as an actor. From the get-go, he was proving them wrong. In Renaissance Man (1994), he gave an utterly charming performance as a simple but sincere army recruit. What naysayers remained found it increasingly difficult to write Mark Wahlberg off as he delivered one fine performance after another. He blew them away in the controversial The Basketball Diaries (1995) and chilled them in Fear (1996) as every father’s worst nightmare.
The major turning point in Wahlberg’s career came with the role of troubled porn star Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997). Since then, Wahlberg has chosen roles that demonstrate a wide range of dramatic ability, starring in critically acclaimed dramas such as Three Kings (1999) and The Perfect Storm (2000), popcorn flicks like Planet of the Apes (2001) and Contraband (2012), and even indies such as I Heart Huckabees (2004).
Wahlberg was the executive producer of such television series as Boardwalk Empire (2010), In Treatment (2008) and the highly successful comedy Entourage (2004), which was partly based on his experiences in Hollywood.
Matthew Paige Damon was born on October 8, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Kent Damon, a stockbroker, realtor and tax preparer, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Matt has an older brother, Kyle, a sculptor. His father was of English and Scottish descent, and his mother is of Finnish and Swedish ancestry. The family lived in Newton until his parents divorced in 1973, when Damon and his brother moved with his mother to Cambridge. He grew up in a stable community, and was raised near actor Ben Affleck.
Damon attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and he performed in a number of theater productions during his time there. He attended Harvard University as an English major. While in Harvard, he kept on skipping classes to pursue acting projects, which included the TNT original film, Rising Son (1990), and prep-school drama, School Ties (1992). It was until his film, Geronimo: An American Legend (1993), was expected to be a big success that he decided to drop out of university completely. Arriving in Hollywood, Matt managed to get his first break with a part in the romantic comedy, Mystic Pizza (1988). However, the film did not do too well and his film career failed to take off. Not letting failure discourage him from acting, he went for another audition, and managed to get a starring role in School Ties (1992). Up next for Matt was a role as a soldier who had problems with drug-addiction in the movie, Courage Under Fire (1996). Matt had, in fact, lost forty pounds for his role which resulted in health problems.
The following year, he garnered accolades for Good Will Hunting (1997), a screenplay he had originally written for an English class at Harvard University. Good Will Hunting (1997) was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, one of which, Matt won for Best Original Screenplay along with Ben Affleck. In the year 1998, Matt played the title role in Steven Spielberg’s film, Saving Private Ryan (1998), which was one of the most acclaimed films in that year. Matt had the opportunity of working with Tom Hanks and Vin Diesel while filming that movie. That same year, he starred as an earnest law student and reformed poker player in Rounders (1998), starring opposite Edward Norton and John Malkovich. The next year, Matt rejoined his childhood friend, Ben Affleck and fellow comedian, Chris Rock, in the comedy Dogma (1999).
Towards the end of 1999, Matt played “Tom Ripley”, a working-class young man who tastes the good life and will do anything to live it. Both Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow also starred in the movie. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) earned mixed reviews from critics, but even so, Matt earned praise for his performance. Matt lent his voice to the animated movie, Titan A.E. (2000) in the year 2000, which also earned mixed reviews from the public. He also starred in two other movies, All the Pretty Horses (2000) and the golf comedy-drama, The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), starring alongside Will Smith. In the year 2003, he signed on to star in The Informant! (2009) by Steven Soderbergh and the Farrelly Brothers’ Stuck on You (2003). He also starred in Gerry (2002), a film he co-wrote with his friends, Gus Van Sant and Casey Affleck. One of Matt’s most recognizable work to date is his role in the “Bourne” movie franchise. He plays an amnesiac assassin, “Jason Bourne”, in The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Another praised role is that as “Linus Caldwell” in the “Ocean’s” movie franchise. He had the opportunity to star opposite George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Don Cheadle in Ocean’s Eleven (2001). The successful crime comedy-drama eventually had two other sequels, Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). Among other highly acclaimed movies that Matt has been a part of are Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm (2005), George Clooney’s Syriana (2005), Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006) and Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd (2006).
In his personal life, Matt is now happily married to Argentine-born Luciana Barroso, whom he met in Miami, where she was working as a bartender. They married in a private civil ceremony on December 9, 2005, at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. The couple have four daughters Alexia, Luciana’s daughter from a previous relationship, as well as Isabella, Gia and Stella. Matt is a big fan of the Boston Red Sox and he tries to attend their games whenever possible. He has also formed great friendships with his Ocean’s co-stars, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, whom he works on charity projects with. He and actor Ben Affleck, together with Ben’s wife, Jennifer Garner, are also good family friends.
Michelle Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana, California to Dick and Donna Pfeiffer. She has an older brother and two younger sisters – Dedee Pfeiffer, and Lori Pfeiffer, who both dabbled in acting and modeling but decided against making it their lives’ work. She graduated from Fountain Valley High School in 1976, and attended one year at the Golden West College, where she studied to become a court reporter. But it was while working as a supermarket checker at Vons, a large Southern California grocery chain, that she realized her true calling. She was married to actor/director Peter Horton (“Gary” of Thirtysomething (1987)) in 1981. They were later divorced, and she then had a three year relationship with actor Fisher Stevens. When that didn’t work out, Pfeiffer decided she didn’t want to wait any longer before having her own family, and in March of 1993, she adopted a baby girl, Claudia Rose. On November 13th of the same year, she married lawyer-turned-writer/producer David E. Kelley, creator of Picket Fences (1992), Chicago Hope (1994), The Practice (1997), and Boston Public (2000). On August 5, 1994 their son, John Henry was born.
Milla Jovovich is an Ukrainian-born actress, supermodel, fashion designer, singer and public figure, who was on the cover of more than a hundred magazines, and starred in such films as The Fifth Element (1997), Ultraviolet (2006), and the Resident Evil (2002) franchise.
Milica Bogdanovna Jovovich was born on December 17, 1975 in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union (now in Ukraine). Her Serbian father, Bogdan Jovovich, was a medical doctor in Kiev. There, he met her mother, Galina Jovovich (née Loginova), a Russian actress. At the age of 5, in 1981, Milla emigrated with her parents from the Soviet Union, moving first to London, UK, then to Sacramento, California, and eventually settled in Los Angeles. There her parents worked as house cleaners for the household of director Brian De Palma. Her parents separated, and eventually divorced, because her father was arrested and spent several years in prison.
Young Milla Jovovich was brought up by her single mother in Los Angeles. In addition to her native Russian, she also speaks Serbian and English. However, in spite of her cosmopolitan background, Milla was ostracized by some of her classmates, as a kid who emigrated from the Soviet Union amidst the paranoia of the Cold War. Many emotional scars had affected her behavior, but she eventually emerged as a resilient, multi-talented, albeit rebellious and risk-taking girl. She was coached by her actress mother since her childhood, first at home, then studied music, ballet, and acting in Los Angeles.
She shot to international fame after she was spotted by the photographer Richard Avedon at the age of 11, and was featured in Revlon’s “Most Unforgettable Women in the World” advertisements, and on the cover of the Italian fashion magazine ‘Lei’ which was her first cover shoot. She made her first professional model contract at the age of 12, and soon made it to the cover of ‘The Face’, ‘Vogue’, ‘Cosmopolitan’ and many other magazines. In 1994, she appeared on the cover of ‘High Times’ in the UK, at the age of 18. The total number of her magazine covers worldwide was over one hundred by 2004, and keeps counting. In 2004, she made $10.4 million, becoming the highest paid supermodel in the world.
Milla appeared in ad campaigns for Chanel, Versace, Emporio Armani, Donna Karen, DKNY, Celine, P&K, H&H, and continues her role as the worldwide spokesperson and model for L’Oreal. Thanks to their continued success with Milla, Giorgio Armani chose her to be the face of his fragrance, Night. In addition to Armani’s fragrance, Milla was the face for Calvin Klein’s Obsession and Christian Dior’s Poison for over 10 years and has most recently become the new face for Donna Karan’s Cashmere Mist fragrance, which debuts in August 2009. Milla continues to shoot with the fashion industry’s most sought after photographers, including Peter Lindbergh, Mario Sorrenti, Craig McDean and Inez & Vinoodh.
Milla made her acting debut in the Disney Channel movie The Night Train to Kathmandu (1988) and she made guest appearances on television series including Married… with Children (1987) (in 1989 as a French exchange student), Paradise (1988) and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (1990). In 1988, at age 12, she made her film debut credited as Milla in a supporting role in Two Moon Junction (1988) by writer/director Zalman King. During the 1980s and early 1990s, she played several supporting roles as a teenage actress in film and on television, then starred in Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991). In 1997, she co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in the sci-fi blockbuster The Fifth Element (1997), then she starred as the title character of The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999).
In the early 2000s, Milla had a few years of uncertainty in her acting career due to the uneven quality of her films, as well as some hectic events in her private life. She appeared with Mel Gibson in Wim Wenders’ The Million Dollar Hotel (2000) which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. She went on to co-star with Wes Bentley and Sarah Polley in The Claim (2000) and in Ben Stiller’s spoof of the world of models and high-fashion, Zoolander (2001).
Milla achieved box office success in the U.S. and around the world with the action-packed thriller, Resident Evil (2002), based on the wildly popular video game, Resident Evil. It was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Milla reprised her role as the zombie slaying heroine, Alice, in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), and again in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016) A seventh resident Evil movie is in pre-production.
She received glowing reviews opposite Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and Illeana Douglas in The Dummy (2002) which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. In the spring of 2006, Milla returned to the big screen as action heroine, Violet, in the futuristic film Ultraviolet (2006) directed by Kurt Wimmer.
Focusing on her personal sense of style, her love of fashion led Milla and her friend and business partner, Carmen Hawk, to launch their Jovovich-Hawk clothing line, which achieved instant acclaim in the domestic and international fashion world. The fresh, unique line garnered the attention of red carpet watchers and fashion magazines, including American Vogue, who featured Jovovich-Hawk on their coveted list of “10 Things to Watch Out for in 2005.” A student of voice and guitar since she was very young, Milla began writing songs for her first record at the age of 15.
Her first album, “The Divine Comedy”, was released by EMI Records in 1994. Informed by her experiences as a child growing up as a Russian emigrant in the Red-bashing Reagan era, the introspective European-folkish debut drew favorable reviews for Milla’s songwriting and performing. She continues to write music, and has had songs featured on several film soundtracks. She has been writing music and lyrics to her song-demos, playing her guitar and sampling other sounds from her computer, and allowing free download and remix of her songs from her website.
Charitable work also plays a major part in Milla’s life. She has served as Master of Ceremonies and co-chaired with Elizabeth Taylor for the amfAR and Cinema Against AIDS event at the Venice Film Festival, and has been heavily involved with The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, as well as The Wildlands Project.
For many years Milla Jovovich has been maintaining a healthier lifestyle, practicing yoga and meditation, trying to avoid junk food, and cooking for herself. Since she was a little girl, Milla has been writing a private diary, a habit she learned from her mother. She has been keeping a record of many good and bad facts of her life, her travels, her relationships, and all important ideas and events in her career, planning eventually to publish an autobiography. After dissolution of her two previous marriages, Milla Jovovich became engaged to film director Paul W.S. Anderson; their daughter, Ever Anderson, was born on November 3, 2007. They got married on August 22, 2009. Their second daughter, Dashiel Edan, was born on April 1, 2015.
Pam Grier was born in Winston-Salem, NC, one of four children of Gwendolyn Sylvia (Samuels), a nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Pam has been a major African-American star from the early 1970s. Her career started in 1971, when Roger Corman of New World Pictures launched her with The Big Doll House (1971), about a women’s penitentiary, and The Big Bird Cage (1972). Her strong role put her into a five-year contract with Samuel Z. Arkoff of American-International Pictures, and she became a leading lady in action films such as Jack Hill’s Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), the comic strip character Friday Foster (1975) and William Girdler’s ‘Sheba, Baby’ (1975). She continued working with American-International, where she portrayed William Marshall’s vampire victim in the Blacula (1972) sequel, Scream Blacula Scream (1973).
During the 1980s she became a regular on Miami Vice (1984) and played a supporting role as an evil witch in Ray Bradbury’s and Walt Disney Pictures’ Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), then returned to action as Steven Seagal’s partner in Above the Law (1988). Her most famous role of the 1990s was probably Jackie Brown (1997), directed by Quentin Tarantino, which was an homage to her earlier 1970s action roles, She occasionally did supporting roles, as in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (1996), In Too Deep (1999) and a funny performance in Jawbreaker (1999). She also appeared in John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars (2001) and co-starred with Snoop Dogg in Bones (2001). Her entire career of over 30 years has brought only success for this beautiful and talented actress.
A sister of Grier’s died from cancer in 1990 and the son of that sister committed suicide because of his mother’s illness. Pam herself was diagnosed with cancer in 1988 and given 18 months to live, which has had an effect on how she has chosen to live. She has never been wed, although she has been romantically linked to Richard Pryor and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the past.
Sir Patrick Stewart was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England, to Gladys (Barrowclough), a textile worker and weaver, and Alfred Stewart, who was in the army. He was a member of various local drama groups from about age 12. He left school at age 15 to work as a junior reporter on a local paper; he quit when his editor told him he was spending too much time at the theatre and not enough working. Stewart spent a year as a furniture salesman, saving cash to attend drama school. He was accepted by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1957. He made his professional debut in 1959 in the repertory theatre in Lincoln; he worked at the Manchester Library Theatre and a tour around the world with the Old Vic Company followed in the early 1960s. Stewart joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966, to begin his 27-year association. Following a spell with the Royal National Theatre in the mid 1980s, he went to Los Angeles, California to star on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), which ran from 1987-1994, playing the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. After the series ended, Stewart reprised his role for a string of successful Star Trek films: Star Trek: Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Stewart continues to work on the stage and in various films. He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to drama.
Robert De Niro
One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is Irish, English, Dutch, German, and French. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop. De Niro first gained fame for his role in Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), but he gained his reputation as a volatile actor in Mean Streets (1973), which was his first film with director Martin Scorsese. He received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and received Academy Award nominations for best actor in Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Cape Fear (1991). He received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull (1980).
De Niro has earned four Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, for his work in New York, New York (1977), opposite Liza Minnelli, Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999) and Meet the Parents (2000). Other notable performances include Brazil (1985), The Untouchables (1987), Backdraft (1991), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Heat (1995), Casino (1995) and Jackie Brown (1997). At the same time, he also directed and starred in such films as A Bronx Tale (1993) and The Good Shepherd (2006). De Niro has also received the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2010.
Sylvester Stallone is a athletically built, dark-haired American actor/screenwriter/director/producer, the movie fans worldwide have been flocking to see Stallone’s films for over 40 years, making “Sly” one of Hollywood’s biggest-ever box office draws.
Sylvester Stallone was born on July 6, 1946, in New York’s gritty Hell’s Kitchen, to Jackie Stallone (née Labofish), an astrologer, and Frank Stallone, a beautician and hairdresser. His father was an Italian immigrant, and his mother’s heritage is half French (from Brittany) and half German. The young Stallone attended the American College of Switzerland and the University of Miami, eventually obtaining a B.A. degree. Initially, he struggled in small parts in films such as the soft-core The Party at Kitty and Stud’s (1970), the thriller Klute (1971) and the comedy Bananas (1971). He got a crucial career break alongside fellow young actor Henry Winkler, sharing lead billing in the effectively written teen gang film The Lords of Flatbush (1974). Further film and television roles followed, most of them in uninspiring productions except for the opportunity to play a megalomaniac, bloodthirsty race driver named “Machine Gun Joe Viterbo” in the Roger Corman-produced Death Race 2000 (1975). However, Stallone was also keen to be recognized as a screenwriter, not just an actor, and, inspired by the 1975 Muhammad Ali-Chuck Wepner fight in Cleveland, Stallone wrote a film script about a nobody fighter given the “million to one opportunity” to challenge for the heavyweight title. Rocky (1976) became the stuff of cinematic legends, scoring ten Academy Award nominations, winning the Best Picture Award of 1976 and triggering one of the most financially successful movie series in history! Whilst full credit is wholly deserved by Stallone, he was duly supported by tremendous acting from fellow cast members Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith and Burt Young, and director John G. Avildsen gave the film an emotive, earthy appeal from start to finish. Stallone had truly arrived on his terms, and offers poured in from various studios eager to secure Hollywood’s hottest new star.
Stallone followed Rocky (1976) with F.I.S.T. (1978), loosely based on the life of Teamsters boss “Jimmy Hoffa”, and Paradise Alley (1978) before pulling on the boxing gloves again to resurrect Rocky Balboa in the sequel Rocky II (1979). The second outing for the “Italian Stallion” wasn’t as powerful or successful as the first “Rocky”, however, it still produced strong box office. Subsequent films Nighthawks (1981) and Victory (1981) failed to ignite with audiences, so Stallone was once again lured back to familiar territory with Rocky III (1982) and a fearsome opponent in “Clubber Lang” played by muscular ex-bodyguard Mr. T. The third “Rocky” installment far outperformed the first sequel in box office takings, but Stallone retired his prizefighter for a couple of years as another series was about to commence for the busy actor.
The character of Green Beret “John Rambo” was the creation of Canadian-born writer David Morrell, and his novel was adapted to the screen with Stallone in the lead role in First Blood (1982), also starring Richard Crenna and Brian Dennehy. The movie was a surprise hit that polarized audiences because of its commentary about the Vietnam war, which was still relatively fresh in the American public’s psyche. Political viewpoints aside, the film was a worldwide smash, and a sequel soon followed with Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), which drew even stronger criticism from several quarters owing to the film’s plotline about American MIAs allegedly being held in Vietnam. But they say there is no such thing as bad publicity, and “John Rambo’s” second adventure was a major money spinner for Stallone and cemented him as one of the top male stars of the 1980s. Riding a wave of amazing popularity, Stallone called on old sparring partner Rocky Balboa to climb back into the ring to defend American pride against a Soviet threat in the form of a towering Russian boxer named “Ivan Drago” played by curt Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV (1985). The fourth outing was somewhat controversial with “Rocky” fans, as violence levels seemed excessive compared to previous “Rocky” films, especially with the savage beating suffered by Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, at the hands of the unstoppable “Siberian Express”.
Stallone continued forward with a slew of macho character-themed films that met with a mixed reception from his fans. Cobra (1986) was a clumsy mess, Over the Top (1987) was equally mediocre, Rambo III (1988) saw Rambo take on the Russians in Afghanistan, and cop buddy film Tango & Cash (1989) just did not quite hit the mark, although it did feature a top-notch cast and there was chemistry between Stallone and co-star Kurt Russell.
Philadelphia’s favorite mythical boxer moved out of the shadows for his fifth screen outing in Rocky V (1990) tackling Tommy “Machine” Gunn played by real-life heavyweight fighter Tommy Morrison, the great-nephew of screen legend John Wayne. Sly quickly followed with the lukewarm comedy Oscar (1991), the painfully unfunny Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), the futuristic action film Demolition Man (1993), and the comic book-inspired Judge Dredd (1995). Interestingly, Stallone then took a departure from the gung-ho steely characters he had been portraying to stack on a few extra pounds and tackle a more dramatically challenging role in the intriguing Cop Land (1997), also starring Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta. It isn’t a classic of the genre, but Cop Land (1997) certainly surprised many critics with Stallone’s understated performance. Stallone then lent his vocal talents to the animated adventure story Antz (1998), reprised the role made famous by Michael Caine in a terrible remake of Get Carter (2000), climbed back into a race car for Driven (2001), and guest-starred as the “Toymaker” in the third chapter of the immensely popular “Spy Kids” film series, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003). Showing that age had not wearied his two most popular series, Stallone has most recently brought back never-say-die boxer Rocky Balboa to star in, well, what else but Rocky Balboa (2006), and Vietnam veteran Rambo (2008) will reappear after a 20-year hiatus to once again right wrongs in the jungles of Thailand.
Love him or loathe him, Sylvester Stallone has built an enviable and highly respected career in Hollywood, plus, he has considerably influenced modern popular culture through several of his iconic film characters.
Teri Hatcher is an American actress, writer, presenter, and former NFL cheerleader. She is known for her television roles, portraying Lois Lane on the ABC series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997), and as Susan Mayer on the television series Desperate Housewives (2004-2012), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Teri Lynn Hatcher was born in Palo Alto, California, the only child of Esther (Beshur), a computer programmer, and Owen Walker Hatcher, Jr., a nuclear physicist and electrical engineer. She has Syrian (from her immigrant maternal grandfather), Irish, English, and Czech ancestry. Teri grew up in Sunnyvale, California, and spent her childhood dancing, and fishing with her father. While at Fremont High School, she was captain of the Featherettes, a dance team that had the look of regular cheerleaders, with the exception of the large headdresses they wore. She was voted “Most Likely to Become a Solid Gold (1980) Dancer” by her graduating class in 1982. Hatcher studied acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while taking a degree course in mathematics and engineering at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. She became a member of the 1984 Gold Rush, the name of the professional cheer leading squad of the American football San Francisco 49ers.
Hatcher went to Hollywood to lend moral support to a friend during a open casting call. She, however, auditioned and won the role of the singing and dancing mermaid for the television series The Love Boat (1977). She went on to play “Penny Parker,” a ditsy but sweet-hearted struggling actress on MacGyver (1985). When that show ended, she auditioned for and won the role of smart and savvy “Lois Lane” on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993), saying that she didn’t want to be stuck with the pretty airhead image she had acquired as “Penny Parker.”
She married actor Jon Tenney in May 1994. She gave birth to daughter Emerson Tenney on November 10, 1997. Later, she signed to play “Sally Bowles” in a road tour of Cabaret. The tour debuted in Los Angeles on March 2, 1999. Her final show was on September 4, 1999. She stayed out of the industry for a little bit before nabbing a role on the darkly comedic soap opera Desperate Housewives (2004), which could have been a huge mistake. The show turned out to be a mega-hit, which skyrocketed Hatcher to the A-list. Her portrayal of a divorced mother, “Susan Mayer,” was consistently named as America’s favorite “Desperate Housewife.” Hatcher won both a Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and the SAG Award for Female Actor in a Comedy Series before the show’s first season was even over.
Terry Crews was born in Flint, Michigan, to Patricia and Terry Crews Sr. He earned an art excellence scholarship to attend Western Michigan University and also earned a full-ride athletic scholarship to play football. Crews was an All-Conference defensive end, and was a major contributor on the 1988 MAC champion WMU Broncos. His college success was rewarded in 1991, when he was drafted by the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
Crews played six years in the NFL, with stints at the L.A. Rams, San Diego Chargers , Rhein Fire (NFL Europe-Germany), Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. While in the NFL, used his art talent by painting a line of NFL licensed lithographs for Sierra Sun Editions.
In 1996, Crews co-wrote and co-produced the independent feature film “Young Boys Incorporated” (1996).
Crews retired from the NFL in 1997 and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Crews’s first break came in 1999, when he auditioned for the extreme sports show called Battle Dome (1999), with other actor-athletes from around the country. Crews was chosen to be a series regular, known as the urban warrior T-Money.
In 2000, Crews made his big-screen debut in The 6th Day (2000). Since then, he has landed roles in Serving Sara (2002), Friday After Next (2002), Deliver Us from Eva (2003), Malibu’s Most Wanted (2003), Starsky & Hutch (2004), Soul Plane (2004), White Chicks (2004), and the Mike Judge film, Idiocracy (2006).
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother’s family, originally surnamed “Fraga”, was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has called a “fractured” family. He moved around a great deal after his parents’ divorce, living with a succession of step-families. No problems, no alcoholism – just a confused childhood. He has no acting experience in college and credits the fact that he could not get cast in a college play with actually starting his career. He went downtown, and auditioned for a community theater play, was invited by the director of that play to go to Cleveland, and there his acting career started.
Ron Howard was working on Splash (1984), a fantasy-comedy about a mermaid who falls in love with a business executive. Howard considered Hanks for the role of the main character’s wisecracking brother, which eventually went to John Candy. Instead, Hanks landed the lead role and the film went on to become a surprise box office success, grossing more than $69 million. After several flops and a moderate success with the comedy Dragnet (1987), Hanks’ stature in the film industry rose. The broad success with the fantasy-comedy Big (1988) established him as a major Hollywood talent, both as a box office draw and within the film industry as an actor. For his performance in the film, Hanks earned his first Academy Award nomination as Best Actor.
Hanks climbed back to the top again with his portrayal of a washed-up baseball legend turned manager in A League of Their Own (1992). Hanks has stated that his acting in earlier roles was not great, but that he subsequently improved. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hanks noted his “modern era of movie making … because enough self-discovery has gone on … My work has become less pretentiously fake and over the top”. This “modern era” began for Hanks, first with Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and then with Philadelphia (1993). The former was a blockbuster success about a widower who finds true love over the radio airwaves. Richard Schickel of Time magazine called his performance “charming”, and most critics agreed that Hanks’ portrayal ensured him a place among the premier romantic-comedy stars of his generation.
In Philadelphia, he played a gay lawyer with AIDS who sues his firm for discrimination. Hanks lost 35 pounds and thinned his hair in order to appear sickly for the role. In a review for People, Leah Rozen stated, “Above all, credit for Philadelphia’s success belongs to Hanks, who makes sure that he plays a character, not a saint. He is flat-out terrific, giving a deeply felt, carefully nuanced performance that deserves an Oscar.” Hanks won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Philadelphia. During his acceptance speech, he revealed that his high school drama teacher Rawley Farnsworth and former classmate John Gilkerson, two people with whom he was close, were gay.
Hanks followed Philadelphia with the blockbuster Forrest Gump (1994) which grossed a worldwide total of over $600 million at the box office. Hanks remarked: “When I read the script for Gump, I saw it as one of those kind of grand, hopeful movies that the audience can go to and feel … some hope for their lot and their position in life … I got that from the movies a hundred million times when I was a kid. I still do.” Hanks won his second Best Actor Academy Award for his role in Forrest Gump, becoming only the second actor to have accomplished the feat of winning consecutive Best Actor Oscars.
Hanks’ next role – astronaut and commander Jim Lovell, in the docudrama Apollo 13 (1995) – reunited him with Ron Howard. Critics generally applauded the film and the performances of the entire cast, which included actors Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Kathleen Quinlan. The movie also earned nine Academy Award nominations, winning two. Later that year, Hanks starred in Disney/Pixar’s computer-animated film Toy Story (1995), as the voice of Sheriff Woody. A year later, he made his directing debut with the musical comedy That Thing You Do! (1996) about the rise and fall of a 1960s pop group, also playing the role of a music producer.
Thomas William Selleck is an American actor and film producer, known for his starring role as Hawaii-based private investigator “Thomas Magnum” on the 1980s television series, Magnum, P.I. (1980).
Selleck was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Martha S. (Jagger), a homemaker, and Robert Dean Selleck, a real estate investor and executive. He is of mostly English descent, including recent immigrant ancestors.
Selleck has appeared extensively on television in roles such as “Dr. Richard Burke” on Friends (1994) and “A.J. Cooper” on Las Vegas (2003). In addition to his series work, Selleck has appeared in more than fifty made-for-TV and general release movies, including Mr. Baseball (1992), Quigley Down Under (1990), Lassiter (1984) and, his most successful movie release, Three Men and a Baby (1987), which was the highest grossing movie in 1987.
Selleck also plays “Jesse Stone” in a series of made-for-TV movies, based on the Robert B. Parker novels. In 2010, he appears as “Commissioner Frank Reagan” in the drama series, Blue Bloods (2010) on CBS.
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones was born in San Saba, Texas, the son of Lucille Marie (Scott), a police officer and beauty shop owner, and Clyde C. Jones, who worked on oil fields. Tommy himself worked in underwater construction and on an oil rig. He attended St. Mark’s School of Texas, a prestigious prep school for boys in Dallas, on a scholarship, and went to Harvard on another scholarship. He roomed with future Vice President Al Gore and played offensive guard in the famous 29-29 Harvard-Yale football game of ’68 known as “The Tie.” He received a B.A. in English literature and graduated cum laude from Harvard in 1969.
Following college, he moved to New York and began his theatrical career on Broadway in “A Patriot for Me” (1969). In 1970, he made his film debut in Love Story (1970). While living in New York, he continued to appear in various plays, both on- and off-Broadway: “Fortune and Men’s Eyes” (1969); “Four on a Garden” (1971); “Blue Boys” (1972); “Ulysses in Nighttown” (1974). During this time, he also appeared on a daytime soap opera, One Life to Live (1968) as Dr. Mark Toland from 1971-75. He moved with wife Kate Lardner, granddaughter of short-story writer/columnist Ring Lardner, and her two children from a previous marriage, to Los Angeles.
There he began to get some roles on television: Charlie’s Angels (1976) (pilot episode); Smash-Up on Interstate 5 (1976); and The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977). While working on the movie Back Roads (1981), he met and fell in love with Kimberlea Cloughley, whom he later married. More roles in television–both on network and cable–stage and film garnered him a reputation as a strong, explosive, thoughtful actor who could handle supporting as well as leading roles. He made his directorial debut in The Good Old Boys (1995) on TNT. In addition to directing and starring in the film, he co-wrote the teleplay (with J.T. Allen). The film, based on Elmer Kelton’s novel, is set in west Texas where Jones has strong family ties. Consequently, this story of a cowboy facing the end of an era has special meaning for him.
Richard Treat Williams was born in Rowayton, Connecticut, to Marian (Andrew), who dealt in antiques, and Richard Norman Williams, a corporate executive. Educated at prep-school, he first made a serious commitment to his craft during his days at Pennsylvania’s Franklin and Marshall College. Working summers with the nearby Fulton Repertory Theatre at Lancaster in the heart of Amish country, Williams performed the classics as well as contemporary dramas and musicals. After graduating, Williams–whose first name, incidentally, is a family surname on his mother’s side–headed for Manhattan where he understudied the Danny Zuko role in “Grease.” After working in the The Andrews Sisters musical “Over Here,” he made his film debut as a cop in Deadly Hero (1975), then returned to “Grease,” this time in the starring role. While he took leaves for two small film roles, in The Ritz (1976) and The Eagle Has Landed (1976), it was his stage work in “Grease” that led to his cinematic breakthrough in Hair (1979). Spotted by director Milos Forman, Williams was asked to read for the role of Berger, the hippie. It took 13 auditions to land the part, but the film’s release catapulted Williams into stardom. He then portrayed a GI on the make in Steven Spielberg’s 1941 (1979) and starred in the romantic comedy Why Would I Lie? (1980) before tackling the role of Danny Ciello, the disillusioned New York City cop who blew the whistle on his corrupt colleagues in Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City (1981). He followed that with The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981), in which he played the legendary plane hijacker who successfully eluded capture (by Robert Duvall); Flashpoint (1984), in which he and Kris Kristofferson starred as a pair of maverick border patrolmen who come upon a large cache of stolen money; Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America (1984), in which he played a Jimmy Hoffa-like labor organizer; and Smooth Talk (1985), a screen adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ short story, “Where Are You Going?” Television viewers have seen Williams in a prestigious pair of dramas, Dempsey (1983), a three-hour story of the hard-living heavyweight champ, and John Erman’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ classic “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which pitted Williams’ Stanley Kowalski against Ann-Margret’s Blanche Dubois. Williams has also returned to Broadway sporadically — first to appear in “Once in a Lifetime” while filming “Hair,” and in 1981 to play the role of the pirate king in “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Uma Karuna Thurman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, into a highly unorthodox and internationally-minded family. She is the daughter of Nena Thurman (née Birgitte Caroline von Schlebrügge), a fashion model and socialite who now runs a mountain retreat, and of Robert Thurman (Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman), a professor and academic who is one of the nation’s foremost Buddhist scholars. Uma’s mother was born in Mexico City, Mexico, to a German father and a Swedish mother (who herself was of Swedish, Danish, and German descent). Uma’s father, a New Yorker, has English, Scots-Irish, Scottish, and German ancestry. Uma grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, where her father worked at Amherst College.
Thurman’s household was one in which the The Dalai Lama was an occasional guest; she and her siblings all have names deriving from Buddhist mythology; and Middle American behavior was little understood, much less pursued. And so it was that the young Thurman confronted childhood with an odd name and eccentric home life — and nature seemingly conspired against her as well. She is six feet tall, and from an early age towered over everyone else in class. Her famously large feet would soon sprout to size 11 — and even beyond that — and although they would eventually be lovingly filmed by director Quentin Tarantino, as a child she generally wore the biggest shoes in class, which only provided another subject of ridicule. Even her long nose moved one of her mother’s friends to helpfully suggest rhinoplasty — to the ten-year-old Thurman. To make matters worse yet, the family constantly relocated, making the gangly, socially inept Thurman perpetually the new kid in class. The result was an exceptionally awkward, self-conscious, lonely and alienated childhood.
Unsurprisingly, the young Thurman enjoyed making believe she was someone other than herself, and so thrived at acting in school plays — her sole successful extracurricular activity. This interest, and her lanky frame, perfect for modeling, led the 15-year-old Thurman to New York City for high school and modeling work (including a layout in Glamour Magazine) as she sought acting roles. The roles soon came, starting with a few formulaic and forgettable Hollywood products, but immediately followed by Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) and Stephen Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons (1988), both of which brought much attention to her unorthodox sensuality and performances that intriguingly combined innocence and worldliness. The weird, gangly girl became a sex symbol virtually overnight.
Thurman continued to be offered good roles in Hollywood pictures into the early ’90s, the least commercially successful but probably best-known of which was her smoldering, astonishingly-adult performance as June, Henry Miller’s wife, in Henry & June (1990), the first movie to actually receive the dreaded NC-17 rating in the USA. After a celebrated start, Thurman’s career stalled in the early ’90s with movies such as the mediocre Mad Dog and Glory (1993). Worse, her first starring role was in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), which had endured a tortured journey from cult-favorite book to big-budget movie, and was a critical and financial debacle. Fortunately, Uma bounced back with a brilliant performance as Mia Wallace, that most unorthodox of all gangster’s molls, in Tarantino’s lauded, hugely successful Pulp Fiction (1994), a role for which Thurman received an Academy Award nomination.
Since then, Thurman has had periods of flirting with roles in arty independents such as A Month by the Lake (1995), and supporting roles in which she has lent some glamorous presence to a mixed batch of movies, such as Beautiful Girls (1996) and The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996). Thurman returned to smaller films after playing the villainess Poison Ivy in the reviled Joel Schumacher effort Batman & Robin (1997) and Emma Peel in a remake of The Avengers (1998). She worked with Woody Allen and Sean Penn on Sweet and Lowdown (1999), and starred in Richard Linklater’s drama Tape (2001) opposite Hawke. Thurman also won a Golden Globe award for her turn in the made-for-television film Hysterical Blindness (2002), directed by Mira Nair.
A return to the mainstream spotlight came when Thurman re-teamed with Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), a revenge flick the two had dreamed up on the set of Pulp Fiction (1994). She also turned up in the John Woo cautioner Paycheck (2003) that same year. The renewed attention was not altogether welcome because Thurman was dealing with the break-up of her marriage with Hawke at about this time. Thurman handled the situation with grace, however, and took her surging popularity in stride. She garnered critical acclaim for her work in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) and was hailed as Tarantino’s muse. Thurman reunited with Pulp Fiction (1994) dance partner John Travolta for the Get Shorty (1995) sequel Be Cool (2005) and played Ulla in The Producers (2005).
Thurman had been briefly married to Gary Oldman, from 1990 to 1992. In 1998, she married Ethan Hawke, her co-star in the offbeat futuristic thriller Gattaca (1997). The couple had two children, Levon and Maya. Hawke and Thurman filed for divorce in 2004.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, to Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, an accountant. “The Muscles from Brussels” started martial arts at the age of eleven. His father introduced him to martial arts when he saw his son was physically weak. At the age of 12, Van Damme began his martial arts training at Centre National De Karate (National Center of Karate) under the guidance of Master Claude Goetz in Ixelles, Belgium. Van Damme trained for 4 years and earned a spot on the Belgium Karate Team. He won the European professional karate association’s middleweight championship as a teenager, and also beat the 2nd best karate fighter in the world. His goal was to be number one but got sidetracked when he left his hometown of Brussels. In 1976 at the age of sixteen, Jean-Claude started his Martial Arts fight career.
Over the next 6-years, he competed in both full-contact and semi-contact matches. He debuted under his birth name of Jean Claude Van Varenberg. In his first match, Jean-Claude was staggered by a round-house kick thrown by fellow countryman, Toon Van Oostrum in Brussels, Belgium. Van Damme was badly stunned, but came back to knockout Van Oostrum moments later. In 1977, at the WAKO Open International in Antwerp, Belgium, Jean-Claude lost a decision to fellow team mate Patrick Teugels in a semi-contact match. At the 1978 Challenge De Espoirs Karate Tournament (1st Trials),Jean-Claude placed 2nd in the semi-contact division. He defeated twenty-five opponents during the week long tournament, but lost in the finals to Angelo Spataro from the Naha Club. Later in 1978, Jean-Claude lost a 3-round match for the Belgium Lightweight Championship (semi-contact) to his fellow team-mate to Patrick Teugels.
In 1979, Jean-Claude traveled to the United States of America, to Tampa, Florida. In his first and only match against a United States opponent, Van Damme faced ‘Sherman ‘Big Train’Bergman’, a kick-boxer from Miami Beach, Florida. For the first and only time in his career, Jean-Claude was knocked to the canvas after absorbing a powerful left hook from Bergman. However, Jean-Claude climbed off the canvas and with a perfectly timed ax-kick, knocked Bergman out in 56 seconds of the first round. Jean-Claude was a member of the Belgium team which competed on December 26, 1979 at the La Coupe Fancois Persoons Karate Tournament which was sanctioned by the Federation bruxelloise de Karate. Van Damme’s final match victory enabled his team to win the European Team Karate Championship. In Full-Contact karate, Jean-Claude knocked out England’s Micheal Heming in 46 seconds of the first round. In 1980, Van Damme knocked out France’s Georges Verlugels in 2 rounds of a match fought under kick-boxing rules. Jean-Claude wanted to defeat his rival Patrick Teugels. At the Forest Nationals in Brussels, on March 8, 1980, Jean-Claude knocked Teugels down and Teugels suffered a nose injury and was unable to continue. Jean-Claude was awarded a first round victory.
Jean-Claude retired from martial arts in 1982, following a knockout over Nedjad Gharbi in Brussels,Belgium. Jean-Claude posted a 18-1 (18 knockouts) Kickboxing record, and a Semi-Contact record of 41-4. He came to Hong Kong at the age of 19 for the first time and felt insured to do action movies in Hong Kong. In 1981 Van Damme moved to Los Angeles. He took English classes while working as carpet layer, pizza delivery man, limo driver, and thanks to Chuck Norris he got a job as a bouncer at a club. Norris gave Van Damme a small role in the movie Missing in Action (1984), but it wasn’t good enough to get anybody’s attention. Then in 1984 he got a role as a villain named Ivan in the low-budget movie No Retreat, No Surrender (1986). Then one day, while walking on the streets, Jean-Claude spotted a producer for Cannon Pictures, and showed some of his martial arts abilities which led to a role in Bloodsport (1988). But the movie, filmed in Hong Kong, was so bad when it was completed, it was shelved for almost two years. It might have never been released if Van Damme did not help them to recut the film and begged producers to release it. They finally released the film, first in Malaysia and France and then into the U.S. Shot on a meager 1.5 million dollar budget, it became a U.S box-office hit in the spring of 1988. It made about 30 million worldwide and audiences supported this film for its new sensational action star Jean-Claude Van Damme.
His martial arts assets, highlighted by his ability to deliver a kick to an opponent’s head during a leaping 360-degree turn, and his good looks led to starring roles in higher budgeted movies like Cyborg (1989), Lionheart (1990), Double Impact (1991) and Universal Soldier (1992). In 1994, he scored with his big breakthrough $100 million worldwide hit Timecop (1994). But in the meantime, his personal life was coming apart. A divorce, followed by a new marriage, followed by another divorce. It began to show up in his career when his projects began to tank at the box office – The Quest (1996), which he directed; Maximum Risk (1996) and Double Team (1997). The three films made less than $50 million combined. In 1999 he remarried his ex-wife Gladys Portugues and restarted his lost career to attain new goals. With help from his family he faced his problems and made movies like Replicant (2001), Derailed (2002), and In Hell (2003) which did averagely in box office terms, but he tried to give his fans the best, his acting in those movies got better, more emotional and each movie was basically in different action tones.
Wesley Trent Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida, to Marian (Long), a teacher’s assistant, and SMSGT Wesley Rudolph Snipes, an aircraft engineer. He grew up on the streets of the South Bronx in New York City, where he very early decided that dance and the theatre were to be his career. He attended the High School for the Performing Arts (popularized in Fame (1980)). But dreams of the musical theater (and maybe a few commercials) faded when his mother moved to Orlando, Florida before he could graduate. Fortune would have it that he along with two friends and his “Drama class” teachers Mr. S Porro and K. Rugerio, would start a bus-n-truck theatre company (Struttin Street Stuff) be instrumental in his high schools (Jones High) induction into the International Thespian Society, Orlando Chapter and help lay the foundation for what would become Dr. Phillips High Schools theatre arts program. Musical theatre rooted Snipes performed song-n-dance, puppetry, and acrobatics in city parks, dinner clubs, and performing arts centers around central Florida. As a recipient of a Victor Borge Scholarship, Snipes left Orlando and entered the world-renowned professional theatre arts program at SUNY Purchase in New York, now Purchase College, where he honed his theatrical performance and martial arts skills. Graduating with a BFA, he went on to co-star in a few soap operas and nighttime dramas, peppered in between critical acclaim performances Broadway. It was there in a Broadway theater An agent saw him on stage and invited him to audition for his first feature film role.
Goldie Hawn Wildcats (1986). Athletic roles such as that gave way to dramatic roles such as that gave way to tough guy roles as in New Jack City (1991), and to the action hero in Passenger 57 (1992). Wesley feels that at least with the Hollywood heavyweights he must be doing something right – Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Dennis Hopper and Sean Connery all had veto power over casting and all approved his role. Wesley also founded Amen Ra Films Production Company, and is a Multi System Combat Arts Black Belt Holder IT Technologist & VC.
Having made over one hundred films in his legendary career, Willem Dafoe is internationally respected for bringing versatility, boldness, and daring to some of the most iconic films of our time. His artistic curiosity in exploring the human condition leads him to projects all over the world, large and small, Hollywood films as well as Independent cinema.
In 1979, he was given a role in Michael’s Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, from which he was fired. Since then, he has collaborated with directors who represent a virtual encyclopedia of modern cinema: James Wan, Robert Eggers, Sean Baker, Kenneth Branagh, Kathryn Bigelow, Sam Raimi, Alan Parker, Walter Hill, Mary Harron, Wim Wenders, Anton Corbijn, Zhang Yimou, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Oliver Stone, William Friedkin, Werner Herzog, Lars Von Trier, Abel Ferrara, Spike Lee, David Cronenberg, Paul Schrader, Anthony Minghella, Theo Angelopoulos, Robert Rodriguez, Phillip Noyce, Hector Babenco, John Milius, Paul Weitz, The Spierig Brothers, Andrew Stanton, Josh Boone, Dee Rees and Julian Schnabel.
Dafoe has been recognized with four Academy Award nominations: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Platoon, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Shadow Of The Vampire, for which he also received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Florida Project, for which he also received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations, and most recently, Best Leading Actor for At Eternity’s Gate, for which he also received a Golden Globe nomination. Among his other nominations and awards, he has received two Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, a New York Film Critics Circle Award, a National Board of Review Award, two Independent Spirit Awards, Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup, as well as a Berlinale Honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement.
Willem was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, to Muriel Isabel (Sprissler), a nurse, and William Alfred Dafoe, a surgeon. He is of mostly German, Irish, Scottish, and English descent. He and his wife, director Giada Colagrande, have made three films together: Padre, A Woman, and Before It Had A Name.
His natural adventurousness is evident in roles as diverse as Marcus, the elite assassin who is mentor to Keanu Reeves in the neo-noir John Wick; in his voice work as Gil the Moorish Idol in Finding Nemo and Ryuk the Death God in Death Note; as Paul Smecker, the obsessed FBI agent in the cult classic The Boondock Saints; and as real life hero Leonhard Seppala, who led the 1925 Alaskan dog sled diphtheria serum run in Ericson Core’s Togo. That adventurous spirit continues with upcoming films including Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Abel Ferrara’s Siberia, and Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter.
Dafoe is one of the founding members of The Wooster Group, the New York based experimental theatre collective. He created and performed in all of the group’s work from 1977 thru 2005, both in the U.S. and internationally. Since then, he worked with Richard Foreman in Idiot Savant at The Public Theatre (NYC), with Robert Wilson on two international productions: The Life & Death of Marina Abramovic and The Old Woman opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov and developed a new theatre piece, directed by Romeo Castellucci, based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Minister’s Black Veil. He recently completed work on Marina Abramovic’s opera 7 Deaths of Maria Callas.
William Shatner has notched up an impressive 70-plus years in front of the camera, displaying heady comedic talent and being instantly recognizable to several generations of cult television fans as the square-jawed Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise.
Shatner was born in Côte Saint-Luc, Montréal, Québec, Canada, to Anne (Garmaise) and Joseph Shatner, a clothing manufacturer. His father was a Jewish emigrant from Bukovina in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while his maternal grandparents were Lithuanian Jews. After graduating from university he joined a local Summer theatre group as an assistant manager. He then performed with the National Repertory Theatre of Ottawa and at the Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare Festival as an understudy working with such as Alec Guinness, James Mason, and Anthony Quayle. He came to the attention of New York critics and was soon playing important roles on major shows on live television.
Shatner spent many years honing his craft before debuting alongside Yul Brynner in The Brothers Karamazov (1958). He was kept busy during the 1960s in films such as Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) and The Intruder (1962) and on television guest-starring in dozens of series such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), The Defenders (1961), The Outer Limits (1963) and The Twilight Zone (1959). In 1966, Shatner boarded the USS Enterprise for three seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series (1966), co-starring alongside Leonard Nimoy, with the series eventually becoming a bona-fide cult classic with a worldwide legion of fans known as “Trekkies”.
After “Star Trek” folded, Shatner spent the rest of the decade and the 1970s making the rounds guest-starring on many prime-time television series, including Hawaii Five-O (1968), Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969) and Ironside (1967). He has also appeared in several feature films, but they were mainly B-grade (or lower) fare such as the embarrassingly bad Euro western White Comanche (1968) and the campy Kingdom of the Spiders (1977). However, the 1980s saw a major resurgence in Shatner’s career with the renewed interest in the original Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) series culminating in a series of big-budget “Star Trek” feature films including Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). In addition, he starred in the lightweight police series T.J. Hooker (1982) from 1982 to 1986, alongside spunky Heather Locklear, and surprised many fans with his droll comedic talents in Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) and Miss Congeniality (2000).
He has most recently been starring in the David E. Kelley television series The Practice (1997) and its spin-off Boston Legal (2004).
Outside of work he jogs and follows other athletic pursuits. His interest in health and nutrition led to him becoming spokesman for the American Health Institute’s ‘Know Your Body’ program to promote nutritional and physical health.
Robert Knepper, the son of a veterinarian, was born in Fremont, Ohio, and was raised in Maumee (near Toledo). When he was growing up, his mother worked in the props department for the community theater, and because of her involvement, he became interested in acting. Robert began his career in theater in his hometown before majoring in theater at Northwestern University. He has performed in over one hundred professional theatrical productions around the world. He is a resident of Southern California.
Robert Hammond Patrick Jr. was born on November 5, 1958 in Marietta, Georgia, and raised in Columbus, Ohio, the eldest of five children. He attended the Bowling Green State University in Ohio, but dropped out after he took a drama course and became interested in acting. After leaving college, he took a job as a house painter and continued as such until a boating accident in Lake Erie in 1984. He swam for three hours in order to save the others still stranded on the accident site, while he nearly drowned in his attempt. After the accident, he moved from Ohio to Los Angeles, California. He worked in a bar to supplement his income and even lived in his own car.
Patrick starred in various direct-to-video television movies, and had a short appearance in Die Hard 2 (1990). His breakthrough role came as the liquid-metal, shape-shifting T-1000 in James Cameron’s blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). After that, he landed roles in various feature films such as Last Action Hero (1993), Fire in the Sky (1993) and Striptease (1996). His performance in Fire in the Sky caught the attention of Chris Carter, creator of the television series The X-Files (1993). After David Duchovny distanced himself from the series during its seventh season, Patrick was cast as FBI Special Agent John Doggett.
On the small screen, Robert was a series regular on Season Six of HBO’s True Blood (2008) and also appeared in the final season. He had a memorable role in the final season of Sons of Anarchy (2008), did a cameo role on the sitcom Community (2009), and had a supporting role in Season One on Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (2014) for the El Rey Network. In Spring 2017, it was announced that Robert would have a featured role in Gale Anne Hurd’s highly anticipated Amazon series Lore (2017), based on the popular horror podcast.
Recent film credits include Universal Pictures’ Identity Thief (2013) with Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, Warner Brothers’ Gangster Squad (2013) in which he played Josh Brolin’s squad member going up against Sean Penn as Mickey Cohan, Trouble with the Curve (2012) opposite Clint Eastwood, Lovelace (2013) opposite Sharon Stone and Amanda Seyfried, Universal’s remake of Endless Love (2014) with Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde, Focus Features’ Kill the Messenger (2014) opposite Jeremy Renner, and The Road Within (2014) with Kyra Sedgwick and Zoë Kravitz.
In addition to his acting success, Patrick is a lifelong supporter of the military and the USO. The grandson of an Army veteran who served during World Wars I and II and the Korean War, Patrick grew up with a profound respect for troops. Devoted to giving back, he regularly goes on USO hospital visits and has participated in four USO tours in seven countries since 2008, visiting more than 8,100 service members and military families. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife, Barbara and their two children.
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe’s recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English, Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, and Maori (one of Crowe’s maternal great-grandmothers, Erana Putiputi Hayes Heihi, was Maori).
Crowe’s family moved to Australia when he was a small child, settling in Sydney, and Russell got the acting bug early in life. Beginning as a child star on a local Australian TV show, Russell’s first big break came with two films … the first, Romper Stomper (1992), gained him a name throughout the film community in Australia and the neighboring countries. The second, The Sum of Us (1994), helped put him on the American map, so to speak. Sharon Stone heard of him from Romper Stomper (1992) and wanted him for her film, The Quick and the Dead (1995). But filming on The Sum of Us (1994) had already begun. Sharon is reported to have held up shooting until she had her gunslinger-Crowe, for her film. With The Quick and the Dead (1995) under his belt as his first American film, the second was offered to him soon after. Virtuosity (1995), starring Denzel Washington, put Russell in the body of a Virtual Serial Killer, Sid6.7 … a role unlike any he had played so far. Virtuosity (1995), a Sci-Fi extravaganza, was a fun film and, again, opened the door to even more American offers. L.A. Confidential (1997), Russell’s third American film, brought him the US fame and attention that his fans have felt he deserved all along. Missing the Oscar nod this time around, he didn’t seem deterred and signed to do his first film with The Walt Disney Company, Mystery, Alaska (1999). He achieved even more success and awards for his performances in Gladiator (2000), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and A Beautiful Mind (2001).
Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver, on October 8, 1949, in Leroy Hospital in New York City. Her father, TV producer Sylvester L. Weaver Jr., originally wanted to name her Flavia, because of his passion for Roman history (he had already named her elder brother Trajan). Her mother, Elizabeth Inglis, was a British actress who had sacrificed her career for a family. Sigourney grew up in a virtual bubble of guiltless bliss, being taken care by nannies and maids. By 1959, the Weavers had resided in 30 different households. In 1961, Sigourney began attending the Brearly Girls Academy, but her mother moved her to another New York private school, Chapin. Sigourney was quite a bit taller than most of her other classmates (at the age of 13, she was already 5′ 10″), resulting in her constantly being laughed at and picked on; in order to gain their acceptance, she took on the role of class clown.
In 1962, her family moved to San Francisco briefly, an unpleasant experience for her. Later, they moved back east to Connecticut, where she became a student at the Ethel Walker School, facing the same problems as before. In 1963, she changed her name to “Sigourney”, after the character “Sigourney Howard” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” (her own birth name, Susan, was in honor of her mother’s best friend, explorer Susan Pretzlik). Sigourney had already starred in a school drama production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and, in 1965, she worked during the summer with a stock troupe, performing in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “You Can’t Take It With You” (she didn’t star in the latter because she was taller than the lead actor!). After graduating from school in 1967, she spent some months in a kibbutz at Israel. At that time, she became engaged to reporter Aaron Latham, but they soon broke up.
In 1969, Sigourney enrolled in Stanford University, majoring in English Literature. She also participated in school plays, especially Japanese Noh plays. By that time she was living in a treehouse, alongside a male friend, dressed in elf-like clothes! After completing her studies in 1971, she applied for the Yale School of Drama in New York. Despite appearing at the audition reading a Bertolt Brecht speech and wearing a rope-like belt, she was accepted by the school but her professors rejected her, because of her height, and kept typecasting her as prostitutes and old women (whereas classmate Meryl Streep was treated almost reverently). However, in 1973, while making her theatrical debut with “Watergate Classics”, she met up with a team of playwrights and actors and began hanging around with them, resulting in long-term friendships with Christopher Durang, Kate McGregor-Stewart and Albert Innaurato.
In 1974 she starred in such plays as Aristophanes’ “Frogs” and Durang’s “The Nature and Purpose of the Universe” and “Daryl and Carol and Kenny and Jenny”, as Jenny. After finishing her studies that year, she began seriously pursuing a stage career, but her height kept being a hindrance. However, she continued working on stage with Durang (in “Titanic” ) and Innaurato (in “Gemini” ). Other 1970s stage works included “Marco Polo Sing a Song”, “The Animal Kingdom”, “A Flea in Her Ear”, “The Constant Husband”, “Conjuring an Event” and others. However, the one that really got her noticed was “Das Lusitania Songspiel”, a play she co-wrote with Durang and in which she starred for two seasons, from 1979 to 1981. She was also up for a Drama Desk Award for it. During the mid-70s she appeared in several TV spots and even starred as Avis Ryan in the soap opera Somerset (1970).
In 1977 she was cast in the role Shelley Duvall finally played in Annie Hall (1977), after rejecting the part due to prior stage commitments. In the end, however, Woody Allen offered her a part in the film that, while short (she was onscreen for six seconds), made many people sit up and take notice. She later appeared in Madman (1978) and, of course, Alien (1979). The role of the tough, uncompromising Ripley made Sigourney an “overnight” star and brought her a British Award Nomination. She next appeared in Eyewitness (1981) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), the latter being a great success in Australia that won an Oscar and brought Sigourney and co-star Mel Gibson to Cannes in 1983. The same year she delivered an honorary Emmy award to her father, a few months before her uncle, actor Doodles Weaver, committed suicide. That year also brought her a romance with Jim Simpson, her first since having broken up two years previously with James M. McClure. She and Simpson were married on 1 October 1984. Sigourney had meanwhile played in the poorly received Deal of the Century (1983) and the mega-hit Ghostbusters (1984). She was also nominated for a Tony Award for her tour-de-force performance in the play “Hurly Burly”. Then followed One Woman or Two (1985), Half Moon Street (1986) and Aliens (1986). The latter was a huge success, and Sigourney was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar.
She then entered her most productive career period and snatched Academy Award nominations, in both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, for her intense portrayal of Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist (1988) and her delicious performance as a double-crossing, power-hungry corporate executive in Working Girl (1988). She ended up losing in both, but made up for it to a degree by winning both Golden Globes. After appearing in a documentary about fashion photographer Helmut Newton, Helmut Newton: Frames from the Edge (1989), and reprising her role in the sequel Ghostbusters II (1989), she discovered she was pregnant and retired from public life for a while. She gave birth to her daughter Charlotte Simpson on 13 April 1990, and returned to movies as a (now skinhead) Ripley in Alien³ (1992) and a gorgeous Queen Isabella of Spain in 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), her second film with director Ridley Scott. She starred in the political comedy Dave (1993) alongside Kevin Kline, and then a Roman Polanski thriller, Death and the Maiden (1994).
In 1995 she was seen in Jeffrey (1995) and Copycat (1995). The next year she “trod the boards” in “Sex and Longing”, yet another Durang play. She hadn’t performed in the theater in many years before that play, her last stage performances occurring in the 1980s in “As You Like It” (1981), “Beyond Therapy” (1981), “The Marriage of ‘Bette and Boo'” (1985) and “The Merchant of Venice” (1986). In 1997 she was the protagonist in Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), The Ice Storm (1997) and Alien: Resurrection (1997). Her performance in “The Ice Storm” got her a BAFTA prize and another Golden Globe nod. She also gave excellent performances in A Map of the World (1999) and the sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest (1999). Her next comedy, Company Man (2000), wasn’t quite so warmly welcomed critically and financially, however. She next played a sexy con artist in Heartbreakers (2001) and had a voice role in Big Bad Love (2001). Her father died at the age of 93. Sigourney herself has recently starred in Tadpole (2002) and is planning a cinematic version of The Guys (2002), the enthralling September 11th one-act drama she played on stage on late 2001. At age 60, she played a crucial role in Avatar (2009), which became the top box-office hit of all time. The film reunited her with her “Aliens” director James Cameron. Her beauty, talent, and hard-work keeps the ageless actress going, and she has continued to win respect from her fans and directors.
Steven Frederic Seagal was born in Lansing, Michigan, to Patricia Anne (Fisher), a medical technician, and Samuel Seagal, a high school math teacher. His paternal grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants, and his mother had English, German, and distant Irish and Dutch, ancestry. The enigmatic Seagal commenced his martial arts training at the age of seven under the tutelage of well-known karate instructor and author Fumio Demura, and in the 1960s commenced his aikido training in Orange County, CA, under the instruction of Harry Ishisaka. Seagal received his first dan accreditation in 1974, after he had moved to Japan to further his martial arts training. After spending many years there honing his skills, he achieved the ranking of a 7th dan in the Japanese martial art “aikido” and was instructing wealthy clients in Los Angeles when he came to the attention of Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz.
Ovitz saw star value in the imposing-looking Seagal. The high-octane action movie genre was in full swing in the late 1980s, and Seagal’s debut movie, “Above the Law”, was wildly received by action fans and actually received some complimentary critical reviews. He followed up “Above the Law” with another slam-bang thriller, Hard to Kill (1990), as a cop shot in an ambush by the mob who revives from a coma to take his revenge. The movie also starred Seagal’s wife at the time, leggy Kelly LeBrock, who was married to him from 1987 to 1996 and is the mother of three of his children. His next outing was battling voodoo-using Jamaican drug “posses” in the hyper-violent Marked for Death (1990), before returning to fight psychotic mob gangster William Forsythe in the even more punishing Out for Justice (1991). Seagal was by now enormously popular, and his next movie, the big-budgeted Under Siege (1992), set aboard the battleship USS Missouri and also starring Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey, was arguably his best film to date, impressing both fans and critics alike.
Seagal’s fighting style was rather different from that of other on-screen martial arts dynamos such as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, who were predominantly fighters from striking arts background such as karate or tang soo do. However, aikido is built around using an opponent’s inertia and body weight to employ various locks, chokes and holds that incapacitate him. Seagal carries himself differently, too, and often appears wearing Italian designer clothes and usually favors an all-black outfit, generally with a three-quarter-length coat with an elaborate trim. Additionally, Seagal’s on-screen characters were often seemingly benign or timid individuals; however, when the going gets rough they reveal themselves to be deadly ex-CIA operatives, or retired Special Forces soldiers capable of enormous destruction!
As his box-office drawing power grew, Seagal began to infuse his film projects with his personal and spiritual beliefs, especially concerning the abuse of the environment. He appeared as an oil fire expert who turns against his corrupt CEO (played by Michael Caine) in On Deadly Ground (1994) to save the Eskimo population from an oil disaster; in Fire Down Below (1997) he plays an environmental agency troubleshooter investigating the dumping of toxic waste in Kentucky coal mines, and in the slow-moving About Time (1998) he plays a medical specialist trying to stop a lethal virus unleashed by an extremist group.
Action fans struggled to come to terms with social messaging being built into bone-crunching fight films; however, Seagal’s box-office clout remained fairly strong, and more traditional chopsocky projects followed with the “buddy cop” film The Glimmer Man (1996), then almost a cameo role as a Navy SEAL alongside CIA analyst Kurt Russell before Seagal is sucked out of a jet at 35,000 feet in Executive Decision (1996).
In 1999 Seagal took a different turn in his film projects with the surprising genteel Prince of Central Park (2000), about a child living inside NYC’s most famous park. He returned to more familiar territory with further high-voltage, guns-blazing action in Exit Wounds (2001), Half Past Dead (2002), Out for a Kill (2003) and Belly of the Beast (2003).
Unbeknownst to many, in 1997 Seagal publicly announced that one of his Buddhist teachers, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, had accorded Seagal as a tulku, the reincarnation of a Buddhist Lama. This initial announcement was met with some disbelief until Penor Rinpoche himself gave a confirmation statement on Seagal’s new title. Seagal has repeatedly discussed his involvement in Buddhism and how he devotes many hours studying and meditating this ancient Eastern religion.
While his box-office appeal has somewhat declined from his halcyon blockbusters of the mid-’90s, Seagal still has a very loyal fan base in the action movie genre and continues to remain a highly bankable star.
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