October 20: Happy Birthday Danny Boyle and Viggo Mortensen
Danny Boyle celebrates his 60th birthday today. He began his directing career in British theater, with the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He didn’t make his first film, the black comedy Shallow Grave, until he was nearly 40; it won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British film at the BAFTA Awards. He followed that one up with another black comedy, about a circle of heroin users in Edinburgh:
Trainspotting was nominated for three BAFTA awards including another Korda award. After yet another blackly comic film, A Life Less Ordinary, he began branching out into other genres, including apocalyptic thriller/horror (28 Days Later) and sci-fi thriller (Sunshine). His 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire was a huge financial and critical success, winning eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. He directed last year’s Steve Jobs and recently finished T2, a sequel to Trainspotting, which will be released next year.
Viggo Mortenson turns 58 today. He made his film debut in a small role in Peter Weir’s Witness. In the 1990s he kept very busy, sometimes making as many as five films in a year, generally in supporting roles which grew larger as the decade went on. He appeared in a pair of military action thrillers, Crimson Tide and G. I. Jane, and a pair of Hitchcock remakes, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho and Andrew Davis’s A Perfect Murder (pretty much Dial M for Murder with a few details changed).
In 1999, Mortensen was offered the chance to replace Stuart Townsend in a major role in a fantasy film trilogy to be filmed in New Zealand. He might not have accepted the part had his son not been a Tolkien enthusiast:
After his success as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mortensen might have gone on to become a major action hero, but except for Hidalgo he hasn’t done so. He has appeared in a number of critically acclaimed films over the past dozen years or so. In particular, his three films with David Cronenberg—A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and A Dangerous Method—have brought him a number of accolades, including an Oscar nomination and a pair of Golden Globe nominations. He has also found time over the course of his career to publish several volumes of poetry and photography.
John Krasinski, who turns 37 today, was one of the stars of the US version of The Office, and was seen earlier this year in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours. Dan Fogler, who turns 40, won a Tony (Best Featured Actor in a Musical) in his Broadway debut in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and will be seen next month in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (from J. K. Rowling’s book). Katie Featherston, who is 34 today, has starred in several of the Paranormal Activity series of horror films. Hunter King, who celebrates her 23rd, won two Daytime Emmys for her work on The Young and the Restless and is now in the regular cast of CBS’s Life in Pieces. Alberto Ammann, who turns 38, won a Goya award in his debut in the Spanish film Cell 211 and is now featured in the Netflix series Narcos.
William Christopher, who is 84 today, paid his dues for nearly a decade in TV guest star roles before landing the role of Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, a role he reprised on AfterMASH. Melanie Mayron, who celebrates her 64th, was a three-time Emmy nominee for thirtysomething (winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1989) and these days is a busy TV director, working on Jane the Virgin, Pretty Little Liars and other series. William Zabka, who is 51 today, may be remembered by 1980s audiences as the bully Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid or Scott McCall from The Equalizer; he also produced and wrote the Oscar-nominated short film Most.
Rapper Snoop Dogg (given name Calvin Broadus) turns 45 today. After being featured on fellow rapper Dr. Dre’s album The Chronic, Snoop Dogg had a very successful decade in the 1990s, with his first three albums all reaching #1 on the Billboard 200. He has been less successful since, although his 2004 single “Drop It Like It’s Hot” became his first #1 hit. Rocker Tom Petty, who is 66 today, was one of the key “heartland rock” figures to emerge in the 1970s. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (how his band is virtually always billed) have sold over 80 million records worldwide. Like fellow heartland rocker Bruce Springsteen, Petty has been more successful with albums than singles; what may be his best known song did not even chart in its initial release:
Other notable music birthdays, past and present, include Wanda Jackson, who turns 79 today. She was one of the first prominent women in rockabilly and rock and roll, and later transitioned into a successful country star. Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941, given name Ferdinand La Mothe) was a successful ragtime pianist who went on to be one of the early pioneers of jazz; his “Jelly Roll Blues” is often identified as the first published jazz composition. Thomas Newman, who turns 61, is one of the famed Newman family of film composers. He is a 13-time Oscar nominee, having been nominated for the scores of films like The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, Finding Nemo and Skyfall; he has never won but has received several Grammys. Charles Ives (1874-1954) was the first great American composer of symphonic and chamber music. His symphonies and other compositions are noted for incorporating themes from American hymns and popular tunes. Relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, his music became more popular when championed by American conductors Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Mickey Mantle (1931-1995) was a 16-time All-Star in his career with the New York Yankees, a 3-time American League MVP, and led the Yankees to 7 World Series titles during his career. He was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1974. Another Baseball Hall of Famer is Juan Marichal, who turns 79 today. He spent most of his career with the San Francisco Giants, and posted more wins during the 1960s than any other pitcher.
When Bela Lugosi (1882-1956) was a big success in Universal’s Dracula in 1931, the Hungarian-born actor became a mainstay of the studio’s horror films. He tried in vain to avoid being typecast, and a battle with addiction to painkillers made studios more and more reluctant to cast him at all. Jerry Orbach (1935-2004) is remembered by many for playing Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order for 12 seasons. He also had a terrific career in musical theater, receiving four Tony nominations and winning Best Actor in a Musical for Promises, Promises. Dame Anna Neagle (1904-1986) was one of the most popular film stars in Britain for nearly 20 years; she played Queen Victoria in a two-film biopic series, and also had a distinguished stage career. Earl Hindman (1942-2003) is probably best remembered as Wilson W. Wilson, the Taylor family’s next-door neighbor in Home Improvement. The late Bill Nunn (1952-2016), who passed away just a few weeks ago, was a noted character actor who made a memorable impression as Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.
Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-1973) was one of the most influential post-World War 2 French directors. He took the name “Melville” during the war, as a member of the Resistance, and continued to use it as a director. He first made his mark with the 1956 film Bob le flambeur, which introduces many of the trademarks of his work: criminals with complex heist schemes (which seldom if ever work as planned), a consistently noirish atmosphere, and police detectives who often have respectful, but still adversarial relationships with the criminals they hunt. His use of handheld cameras and jump cuts influenced French New Wave directors like Godard. Melville subsequently made other excellent crime thrillers, such as Le doulos, Le Cercle rouge, and probably his best and most influential, Le Samourai.
If today is your birthday, congratulations on sharing your big day with these notable names. Birthday wishes to everyone celebrating a big day today. Come back tomorrow for more celebrity birthdays.
Posted on October 20, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Bela Lugosi, Bill Nunn, Charles Ives, danny boyle, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jerry Orbach, Melanie Mayron, Snoop Dogg, Tom Petty, Viggo Mortensen. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.