Tag: Actors

Happy Birthday, Billy Dee Williams

Billy Dee Williams was born William December Williams on April 6, 1937 in New York City. Billy Dee has notched up an impressive array of film and television appearances over the past 50+ years. He is easily best known to international film audiences as the roguish Lando Calrissian in the last two episodes of the original Star Wars-trilogy: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983).

Happy Birthday, Billy, you old pirate!

Happy Birthday, James Earl Jones

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Happy birthday to the voice of Darth Vader, James Earl Jones! The venerated actor turns 86 years old today.

James Earl Jones was already a star of stage and screen by the time he voiced the dark lord of the Sith in Star Wars, and the rest of the original trilogy, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. With a Tony award in The Great White Hope in 1969, and on-camera roles in Dr. Strangelove and the film version of Great White Hope (which earned him an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Newcomer), when his voice emerged from behind that black mask, it was instantly recognizable.

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The actor has continued his career on stage, on the small screen, and the big screen, with screen credits across seven decades. Recently, he’s returned to the vocal role of Darth Vader twice. He first came in for Star Wars Rebels season two, voicing Vader across several apperances throughout the season, culminating in a major showdown in the season finale between Vader and his former apprentice Ahsoka Tano. Next, he returned to the big screen as Darth Vader’s voice in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first standalone film in the saga, which is in theaters now, bringing the character full circle. He even got to deliver a pun as Vader!

In the genre entertainment world, Jones is best known (outside of Star Wars) for his roles as the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King and as Thulsa Doom, a villain in Conan the Barbarian opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also made guest appearances on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and The Big Bang Theory

Happy Birthday to James Earl Jones. May the Force be with you.

Source: ComicBook.Com

Woody Harrelson signs on for young Han Solo film

Source: StarWars.Com

woody-harrelsonWoody Harrelson has been cast in the untitled Han Solo stand-alone film. Last week rumors broke that he was playing Han Solo’s mentor.

The official Star Wars site announced on this Tuesday 11th that the veteran film and television actor Woody Harrelson is stepping aboard the upcoming Han Solo movie set to arrive in theaters next year.

Harrelson, known for wide-ranging roles in film and TV such as The Hunger Games, No Country For Old MenTrue DetectiveCheers, and Zombieland, will join actors Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), and Emilia Clarke in the adventure. This Star Wars Story is the second in a series of films that live outside the Skywalker family saga, and is set during the early scoundrel days of the iconic characters, prior to A New Hope.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with an artist with as much depth and range as Woody,” said the film’s directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. “His ability to find both humor and pathos, often in the same role, is truly unique. He is also very good at ping pong.”

The as-yet-untitled movie, which is being produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, and Simon Emanuel, is scheduled for release in 2018.

Happy Birthday, Diego Luna

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“I don’t have this feeling like, ‘Oh, I want to live in the United States and make movies and become famous just because the money is here.’ I like to make movies that tell stories that I care about.” – Diego Luna

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Mexican actor Diego Luna, who played Captain Cassian Andor in the new Star Wars movie Rogue One, is celebrating his 37th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Diego Luna!

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Source for animated gifs: Tumblr.

Updated: Han Solo movie casts Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian

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Source: ScreenRant.Com

Han Solo may have met his ultimate end in Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, but since the character is one of the most beloved in the entire franchise, Lucasfilm isn’t planning on moving away from the iconic smuggler. Harrison Ford’s time in the role may be done, but the studio has a young Han Solo spinoff coming through the pipeline, due in theaters May 2018. Directed by the dynamic duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie), the film sees rising star Alden Ehrenreich take over – perhaps for a trilogy of movies.

Finding the new Han Solo was obviously a crucial part of the production process, but the filmmakers still need to round out a supporting cast before filming begins in January 2017. Many were wondering if Han’s buddy Lando Calrissian would appear in the spinoff in some capacity, with the rumor mill suggesting that Lord and Miller were looking for someone to play a young version of the old smoothie. Now, their supposed first choice for the part has officially signed on.

donald-gloverIn an official release on starwars.com, it is confirmed that Donald Glover is on board to play Lando in the upcoming film. According to the report, Han Solo will show Calrissian “in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld” before becoming the administrator at Bespin’s Cloud City.

Now that viewers know they’ll get to see Lando in his youth, the question becomes how exactly he factors into the narrative. Lucasfilm’s announcement is characteristically short on details, but Borys Kit of THR is hearing from sources that the spinoff will “tell how Lando Calrissian lost the Millennium Falcon to Han.” Ideally, there will be more to the film than that (since viewers know Han was the captain of the ship for most of his life), but it should still be a treat for longtime fans to learn how that all went down. Per the non-canon Legends, Han beat Lando in a game of sabacc, so it will be interesting to see what the “official” explanation is. Chances are, some gambling is taking place in the galactic underworld.

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Lord and Miller expressed excitement over the news, saying, “We’re so lucky to have an artist as talented as Donald join us.” While some fans remain skeptical of a young Han Solo movie, it’s hard to argue against Lucasfilm’s casting choices. Ehrenreich was a scene-stealer in this year’s Hail, Caesar! and Glover should also prove to be a valuable addition. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated great range and earned widespread praise for his new TV series Atlanta this year. With his background in comedy, Glover should be a strong fit for Lord and Miller’s style, and it’ll be fun to watch him and Ehrenreich play off each other. If their interactions are anything like Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams, viewers will enjoy a wild ride.

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Lando is arguably an original trilogy character that’s been shortchanged since Disney took over Lucasfilm, as he wasn’t even mentioned in Episode VII. It’s nice to see that the fan-favorite is a big part of the studio’s plans, and if Ehrenreich is locked in for multiple pictures, chances are Glover will be as well. Lord and Miller are aiming to start filming in a matter of months, so there should be more casting announcements – such as the female lead – in the very near future.

UPDATED 29 October: Donald Glover ‘Honored’ to Play Lando

Source: ScreenRant.Com

It’s been a very good year in 2016 for actor Donald Glover, across multiple mediums. Following his acclaimed turn in last year’s The Martian movie, Glover’s album under his rap alter ego, Childish Gambino, Because The Internet, was certified gold. His FX hip-hop drama, Atlanta, has drawn rave critical reviews and was picked up almost immediately for a second season. And last week, he won the coveted role of Lando Calrissian in the upcoming standalone Star Wars anthology film about Han Solo.

In the film from directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie), Glover will step into the shoes of Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; he’ll be appearing opposite Alden Ehrenreich, who will be playing the part made iconic by Harrison Ford. The film starts production early next year with the release date set for late spring in 2018. Most Star Wars fans seem pretty happy with the casting of Glover, and it appears the actor himself is happy to have won the role.

In an appearance on The Ellen Show, Glover expressed his gratitude over having been cast in such an iconic part. Glover told Ellen DeGeneres that he is “honored” to have taken the role, and to be part of Star Wars. The actor said he’s loved the Star Wars films ever since he was a child – referencing the viral photo of Glover wearing a Star Wars t-shirt as a high school student. He even shared that a Lando Calrissian action figure was the first toy he ever had, along with one of Darth Vader.

While lifelong affinity for Star Wars is by no means a prerequisite for involvement in the present movies, there’s something to be said for lifelong passion for the material. And that’s something Glover clearly has, whether it’s Star Wars or Spider-man — another franchise Glover publicly campaigned to participate in, and ultimately landed a role in Spider-man: Homecoming.

The question will be, can Glover and Ehrenreich recreate the chemistry, and the complicated relationship, that we saw between Han and Lando back when Ford and Williams played the parts? The previous actors, in limited screen time, conveyed a whole lot of complex and shared history. When it comes time to show us that history, are the new actors up to it? Based on what we’ve seen from them in past roles, they certainly seem up to the task.

The untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film is scheduled to hit theaters on May 25, 2018.

Happy B-Day, Mark Hamill

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Happy Birthday, Mark Hamill! The actor turned 65 yesterday.

Born in 25th September 1951, Mark was raised in California by his parents Virginia and William. The actor was one of seven and moved often due to his father’s station in the military. However, he came to enjoy acting during his youth and chose to pursue the profession as he majored in drama at Los Angeles City College.

The actor’s first roles found him on television series like General Hospital and The Bill Cosby Show. However, there is undoubtedly one role that fans know him best for.

Mark was cast in Star Wars after he auditioned for a role in Apocalypse Now and caught the attention of George Lucas. He nabbed the starring role of Luke Skywalker, and the film’s unprecedented success launched Mark into global stardom. He reprised his role through the original Star Wars trilogy and brought Skywalker back to theaters when Disney announced they were pursuing new films alongside Lucasfilm.

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force-awakens-7Four times (so far) Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga.

Aside from Star Wars, Mark has an extensive resume of on- and off-screen projects. Most famously, Mark is known for voicing the Joker in various animated Batman features as he played the villain on Batman: The Animated Series. He recently reprised the role in Batman: The Killing Joke, a full-length animated featured based on an eponymous graphic novel.

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Happy birthday! May the Force be with you!

Star Wars actor Kenny Baker passes away at 81

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Source: ScreenRant.Com

The Star Wars franchise has come back in a big way over the past year, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens proving to be a big hit and a whole slate of exciting new movies to look forward to. Today, however, Star Wars fans must say a sad farewell to a performer who has been a part of the franchise since A New Hope hit theaters in 1977. Kenny Baker, who played Luke Skywalker’s android friend R2-D2 in the Star Warsmovies, and also had a small role as an Ewok in Return of the Jedi, has passed away at the age of 81, following a long illness.

Baker was born in Birmingham on August 24, 1934. He was born with a form of dwarfism, and as an adult stood at just 3ft 8in tall, making him the ideal height to be the man inside R2-D2. After Star Wars kicked off his film career, Baker went on to make appearances in Flash Gordon, The Elephant Man, and Time Bandits, as well as numerous other movies and TV shows. In 1970 he married fellow actor Eileen Baker, with whom he had two children, and the couple remained together until Eileen died of epilepsy in 1993.

Baker’s niece Abigail Shield paid tribute to her uncle in a statement to The Guardian, explaining that Baker had been “very poorly for a long time”:

“It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life. He brought lots of happiness to people and we’ll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world. We’re all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime… When he was a child, he was told that he probably wouldn’t survive through puberty, being a little person in those times, they didn’t have a very good life expectancy. He did extremely well in his life.”

Baker was very active on the convention circuit over the years, meeting many fans face-to-face for autographs and photos. Shield says that he was invited to the L.A. premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but was unable to make it since he was too ill to travel. However, he was able to reconnect with Star Wars director George Lucas when Lucas made a trip to Manchester following the UK premiere. R2-D2 is a much-loved and long-standing member of the Star Wars family, and Baker is sure to be fondly remembered.

R.I.P. Kenny Baker

Reblogged and updated from my other blog All That I Love – post published for Kenny Baker’s 79th anniversary.

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Kenneth George “Kenny” Baker (born 24 August 1934) is an English actor and musician, best known as the man inside R2-D2 in the popular Star Wars film series.

Kenny Baker, at 3 feet, 8 inches (112 cm) tall, was born and educated in Birmingham, Warwickshire, and at boarding school in Kent. His parents were of average height. He went to live with his father, stepmother and half sister in Hastings, Sussex, and in 1951 was approached on the street by a lady who invited him to join a theatrical troupe of dwarves and midgets. This was his first taste of show business. Later, he joined a circus for a brief time, learned to ice skate and appeared in many ice shows.

He had formed a successful comedy act called the “Minitones” with entertainer Jack Purvis when George Lucas hired him to be the man inside R2-D2 in Star Wars in 1976. Baker appears in all six of the Star Wars films, although stock footage was used for much of R2-D2’s role in “Revenge of the Sith”. Kenny even played an additional role in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” as Paploo, the Ewok who stole an Imperial speeder bike. He was originally going to play Wicket W. Warrick, but he fell ill, and that role was handed over to Warwick Davis.

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Baker has also worked with George Lucas outside of the Star Wars films. Baker had an uncredited role as R2-D2 in “Star Tours” and an uncredited role as a Nelwyn band member in “Willow” (also with Jack Purvis and Warwick Davis), as well as a role as the Goblin Corps in the 1986 Jim Henson film “Labyrinth”. Baker’s other films include 1980’s “The Elephant Man”, 1981’s “Time Bandits” (also with Jack Purvis), “Flash Gordon”, and “Amadeus”. On television, he appeared in the British medical drama “Casualty”. He also had a part in the BBC production of “The Chronicles of Narnia”.

In November 2009, his biography entitled “From Tiny Acorns: The Kenny Baker Story” was made available through his website and at conventions and book signings. It was written with Ken Mills. Baker continued his association with the character of R2-D2 in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, which was released on December 18, 2015 in North America. He was going to be a member of the cast, but he served as consultant for R2 instead. In November 2015 it was confirmed that Jimmy Vee was cast as R2-D2 in “Star Wars: Episode VIII”, replacing Baker.

Baker resided in Preston, Lancashire. He was married to actress Eileen Baker (who co-starred with him in the 1977 film “Wombling Free”) from 1970 until her death in 1993. Although Eileen also had dwarfism, this was not inherited by their two children.

Kenny Baker died on 13 August 2016, just eleven days before his 82nd birthday, following an extended illness.

Text: Wikipedia.

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Happy B-Day: Harrison Ford turns 74 today

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The scruffy-looking nerf-herder and the most famous smuggler of the galaxy far, far away, is turning 74 today. So, happy birthday, Mr. Ford.

As he’s turning 74 today, Harrison Ford was born back on this date in 1942 at a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Raised by his parents Christopher and Dorothy, Harrison was their oldest child as his younger brother Terence was born in 1945. The then aspiring actor got his first taste of drama when he entered college and took an acting class during his senior year to overcome his long-held shyness.

Fans should be infinitely thankful that Harrison took the class as he did. After all, what would the film industry be like today without him? While much of Harrison’s early resume finds the actor in small-time films, his eventual work on American Graffiti landed him his first starring role as Han Solo in George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy.

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Star Wars, of course, now stands as a pop cultural monolith that has spawned millions of fans as the franchise has essentially come to define the best of science fiction. And, recently, Harrison returned to the franchise in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as he reprised his role of everyone’s favorite space pilot.

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Some might think 74 is getting up there in age but that hasn’t stopped this superstar, who is set to reprise his roles as Dr. Jones in the next installment of Indiana Jones and Deckard, the replicant hunter, in Blade Runner the sequel.

Source: ComicBook.Com

Erik Bauersfeld passes away at 93

Voice of Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar, Erik Bauersfeld, Passes Away at 93

ackbar-actor-diesR.I.P. ERIK BAUERSFELD: JUNE 28, 1922 – APRIL 3, 2016

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As the foundational classic films and film franchises that defined a generation of fans continue to grow older, those same fans have increasingly had to cope with the actors, writers, filmmakers, and other creators who brought some of their most cherished memories to life proving unfortunately all too mortal. Stars become too old to continue playing their iconic roles, director’s retire when they can no longer face the intense work of running a feature film set, writers hang up their pens and eventually everybody passes on.

Now, word comes that time has taken another: Erik Bauersfeld, the actor who provided the voice of Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar and Bib Fortuna in Return of The Jedi, has passed away at 93.

Born in 1922, Bauersfeld spent the majority of his professional life as a radio producer for KPFA 94.1 FM, a listener-funded progressive talk and music station in Berkley, California. He worked there for over 31 years, producing and appearing in programs for the literature and drama department while also picking up side work as a voice actor for feature films, television, and video games.

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It was his role at KPFA that eventually led him to become the voice of Star Wars‘ Admiral Ackbar. While working on a Star Wars-themed radio project with Lucasfilm, Bauersfeld was approached by legendary sound designer Ben Burtt, who asked him to read for the part of Ackbar. According to the film’s production lore, Bauersfeld looked at a photo of Ackbar, an alien whose head vaguely resembles that of a catfish, and instantly decided on the voice he would use. Bauersfeld’s version was the one ultimately used for the character, whose signature line “It’s a trap!” has become among the most memorable and oft-quoted pieces of dialogue in the history of the franchise.

During the same period, he created and provided the voice of Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo, in the same film. Despite these iconic contributions (and the immediate popularity of both characters with Star Wars fans) Bauersfeld received no onscreen credit for his voice work upon the film’s original release — though inquisitive fans discovered the truth soon after. Of note, prior to having been approached on Jedi by Burtt, Bauersfeld had read for the role of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back prior to the role ultimately going to puppeteer Frank Oz.

While he continued to respond to autograph requests from fans with personally typewritten notes late into his life, Bauersfeld himself maintained only a passing familiarity with Star Wars after his initial contribution. He wasn’t readily aware of not being credited (unsurprising, as his lines were added late into the production) did not see the original film and only saw Jedi once upon its opening in 1983 — he even claimed not to have remembered how he originally read Ackbar’s lines. He had continued working well into 2015, reprising Ackbar’s voice for a cameo in The Force Awakens and performing extra vocals for Crimson Peak.

Bauersfeld died on Sunday, with his manager confirming his passing one day later. A cause of death was not given. Source: ScreenRant.Com.