Until five or six years ago, Sarah Paulson, who turns 42 today, seemed like she was never going to get the break that could make her a star. When she got important film roles, like Down With Love or The Spirit, they didn’t do well at the box office. When she got a Golden Globe nomination for a TV role, in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the series got cancelled after one season.
Things have changed for Paulson in the last five years. In 2011, she was cast in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, and has been a part of the cast for each of the first six seasons. She received Emmy nominations for seasons 2-5. She was also an Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for the 2012 HBO movie Game Change, in the role of Nicolle Wallace. She has had significant roles in acclaimed films like 12 Years a Slave and Carol. And earlier this year she won her first Emmy, for playing Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Milla Jovovich is celebrating her 41st birthday. She began working as a teenager in films like Return to the Blue Lagoon, Chaplin, and Dazed and Confused. In the late 1990s, she became the apple of Luc Besson’s eye for a while starring in The Fifth Element (which people still find interesting today) and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (which they don’t, as far as I know). Other films she’s been involved in include Zoolander, The Fourth Kind, and the 2011 “clockpunk” version of The Three Musketeers.
And then there’s her meal ticket. In 2002, Jovovich starred in the video game adaptation Resident Evil, which has been followed by four sequels (with a fifth in the pipeline). The series has not been a critical favorite, and the box office numbers have never spelled “hit,” even for the first in the series. But they do have a number of fans, who plainly find the idea of Milla Jovovich kicking enormous amounts of ass (mostly zombie ass) very appealing.
Writer and director Rian Johnson, who celebrates his 43rd today, made his debut with the high school film noir Brick in 2005. He went on to make The Brothers Bloom and Looper, and according to reports, earlier this year he finished principal photography on Star Wars VIII, which he is again the writer and director for. Peter Farrelly, who turns 60, is part of a production/writing/directing team with his brother Bobby; they are responsible for Dumb and Dumber and its 2014 sequel (but not the 2003 prequel), There’s Something About Mary, Fever Pitch, Me, Myself and Irene, and several more. Independent filmmaker Gregg Araki, who is turning 57, has made features like Mysterious Skin and White Bird in a Blizzard, and is an important figure in the New Queer Cinema.
Bernard Hill, who turns 72 today, has had a career of over 40 years in film, television and theater, largely in England. He is probably best known for his roles in blockbusters as a Captain (Edward Smith of the Titanic) and a King (Theoden of Rohan in Lord of the Rings). Ernie Hudson, who is 71, was Winston Zeddemore of the Ghostbusters and later was Warden Leo Glynn on HBO’s Oz (the cable network’s first one-hour drama series). Native American actor Wes Studi is known for playing Magua in The Last of the Mohicans and the title character in Geronimo: An American Legend, and Lt. Joe Leaphorn in several PBS adaptations of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Tribal Police novels. Studi is 69 today. Eugene Levy, who turns 70, has appeared in all the American Pie films, but would probably prefer that people know him for the mockumentaries that he starred in and co-wrote with Christopher Guest, such as Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl turns 86. He has had a long career in German film and had prominent roles in American films such as Barry Levinson’s Avalon and David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises. Bill Pullman, who celebrates his 63rd, made his film debut in Ruthless People, and has had major roles in Spaceballs, The Last Seduction, While You Were Sleeping, Independence Day, and many more. Just don’t confuse him with Bill Paxton. 🙂
Giovanni Ribisi, who is turning 42, has had important roles in Saving Private Ryan, Boiler Room, Flight of the Phoenix, and more. His twin sister Marissa Ribisi appeared in Dazed and Confused with Milla Jovovich and also had roles in films like Some Girl (which she co-wrote) and 100 Girls. Martial artist and licensed bodyguard Katheryn Winnick, who turns 39, has had roles in films like Killers and The Art of the Steal, and stars as Lagertha on the History Channel’s Vikings. Laurie Holden, who played Andrea on the first three seasons of The Walking Dead, turns 47 today.
Shannon Woodward, who turns 32, played Sabrina Collins on Raising Hope and is currently a regular on Westworld. Emma Bell, who is turning 30, played Amy on season 1 of The Walking Dead and had major roles in the horror films Frozen (not to be confused with the Disney film) and Final Destination 5. Kiersey Clemons, who is celebrating her 23rd, had a central role in the well-reviewed indie film Dope and will be joining the DC Extended Universe as Iris West in Justice League and the feature film The Flash. Nat Wolff, who is turning 22, starred in the Nickelodeon series The Naked Brothers Band and has had major film roles in Ashby and in James Franco’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle.
Birthdays in the realm of the written word today include John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). One of the “Fireside Poets” who were prominent in 19th Century America (Longfellow and Bryant were others), Whittier is remembered for his anti-slavery activity as well as his poems “Snow-Bound” and “Barbara Frietchie.” English novelist and critic Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) is remembered for novels such as The Good Soldier and the Fifth Queen trilogy. Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987) was the author of novels like Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre that focused on the conditions faced by sharecroppers and working-class families in the South.
Fans of late 1960s and early 1970s television will remember Richard Long (1927-1974), who played Jarrod Barkley on The Big Valley and Professor Everett on Nanny and the Professor, before dying of a heart attack shortly after his 47th birthday. Dave Madden (1931-2014) was also well-known to 1970s television audiences as Reuben Kincaid, the manager for The Partridge Family; he later had the recurring role of Earl Hicks on Alice. Cinematographer Gerald Finnerman did most of his work on television and was a seven-time Emmy nominee. He shot over three-quarters of the episodes of the original series of Star Trek and also worked on Kojak and Moonlighting. Sally Menke (1953-2010) was a two-time Oscar nominee for editing, known for her long partnership with Quentin Tarantino. Many Americans of my generation had some of their first exposure to classical music courtesy of Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979), the longtime conductor of the Boston Pops, who reached a nationwide audience through their weekly Evening at Pops broadcasts on PBS.
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.