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December 17: Happy Birthday Sarah Paulson and Milla Jovovich

1217paulsonjovovich

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 VikingsLaurie 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 WestworldEmma 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 5Kiersey 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 FlashNat 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 MoonlightingSally 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.

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Posted on December 17, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I’m more interested in the second and third tier actors here today than anything else. Come on, who here has not enjoyed a Bill Pullman film at some point in their lives? I first became aware of Bill Pullman and his comedic abilities as the dim-witted Earl in Ruthless People, which was a huge hit at the time finishing at #9 among the Top 10 biggest hits of 1986.

    What people probably most know Bill Pullman for is as the dim-witted (are we seeing a pattern yet?) Lone Star in Mel Brook’s hit Star Wars parody SpaceBalls in 1987. Spaceballs wasn’t quite the box office runaway hit that Ruthless People was, finishing a more modest #31 for the year in 1987 (maybe Brooks made Spaceballs a bit too late to really latch onto the Star Wars mania that existed a few years earlier?). If anything Spaceballs has become more successful on cable and home video than it ever was in its initial theatrical release as many people still quote the film today. “I see your Schwarz is as big as mine.”…. “I always have coffee while I’m watching radar.”….. “We ain’t found shit!” and so on.

    Was Bill Pullman dim-witted as the American President in Independence Day in 1996? Not really, but this was the biggest box office hit of 1996 and his admittedly stirring speech of us rising up as a people and defeating those nasty alien invaders probably ranks among the all-time greatest cinematic speeches of all time. All I know is, at that moment I was ready to rise out of my movie theater seat back then and give those alien invaders hell. Now, not so much.

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    • Again, it’s time to bring up “Ruthless People”, and Bill Pullman, with his Sonny Crockett-like look but pea-sized brain was great in his scenes. I mean, he just didn’t have one clue whatsoever, he was a great fool, and quite possibly the stupidest man in the universe:-)
      Lone Star, with fondness for strawberry dam signals and a certain Druish Princess, definitely had more on the ball, even though he was left in the dark but those Monks that took a vow of silence. How would’ve thought Lone Star was a prince?
      For some reason, I saw 1995’s “Casper” in the movie theater, and Pullman was good there too. Even in tepid projects like that, Pullman has been a steady, reliable actor for a long time.

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    • Pullman was terrific in Ruthless People. He managed to be charming in While You Were Sleeping while allowing Sandra Bullock to completely dominate the movie. If you have never seen David Lynch’s Lost Highway, check it out. You will see a completely different side of Bill Pullman.

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  2. I gotta give it up for Eugene Levy. My introduction to Levy’s talents was in the 1984 hit Splash as the scientist out to prove that mermaids really do exist. What a stroke of luck that such a beauty as Darryl Hannah was the one to be revealed as a mermaid. Splash made a huge splash (pun intended) at the box office finishing as the 10th biggest hit of 1984. As a side note, this was also the film that turned Tom Hanks into a movie star.

    For me it wasn’t really until the surprise teen hit comedy American Pie in 1999 that he caught my attention again as the protagonist’s father. “We’ll just tell mom we ate the pie.” Surprisingly this supporting part gave Eugene Levy a much bigger boost to his career than anything else he had ever done in his career, even though he had been active for 20+ years by this point. Even though he was now in his 50’s, he was now getting headline billing in films co-starring the likes of Samuel Jackson and Steve Martin. A terrific example of, don’t ever give up, if you have talent and some luck you can become a star no matter what your age.

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  3. Like I presume everybody else, I first took notice of Mila Jovovich in the Bruce Willis extravaganza hit from 1997, The Fifth Element. She wore a Raggedy-Ann red wig, spoke jibberish and wore a rather revealing outfit while Bruce Willis kicked galactic ass. How could she not catch out attention?

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    • Au contraire! Some of were following Jovovich long before she donned the bandage get up and Raggedy-Ann wig. I may or may not have seen Two Moon Junction. Okay, who am I kidding. I totally watched Two Moon Junction. I skipped Return to the Blue Lagoon, but I was aware of it.

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  4. Sarah Paulson, I liked “Down With Love”, so I’m glad things are going well for her.
    I’m not really into the “Resident Evil” film series (viewed most of the 1st one;didn’t like) or games (never played), but I know Milla Jovovich from 1992’s “Kuffs” and “Chaplin”, “Dazed and Confused”, “The Fifth Element”, and “He Got Game” (of all the parts I’ve seen from her, I probably like her role there the best).
    I watched “Me, Myself, & Irene” over and over for a while there, so I’d say that’s my go to Farrelly Brothers film.
    Eugene Levy, I’m still partial to his part in 1986’s “Armed and Dangerous” (I thought John Candy and him had good chemistry, but I didn’t know for a long time that they worked together before with the Second City deal; go Canada!), and I liked his dad character in what I’ve seen out of the “American Pie” series.
    Giovanni Ribesi, my favorite film that he had a significant role in is 200’s “Boiler Room”, which I think is kind of underrated. I like 2002’s “Heaven” also.

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  5. Full day today!

    The first time I took notice of Sarah Paulson was on Studio 60. That show didn’t serve her very well. I don’t think it served any of its cast very well. Part of the problem was that we kept being told how brilliant and funny these people were, but whenever we saw the sketches they were working on or heard them described, they were not remotely funny. American Horror Story has been a mixed bag, but it certainly raised Paulson’s profile. The People Vs. O.J. Simpson was really great TV.

    I had been following Milla Jovovich since Kuffs in 1992. I kept expecting her to become a movie star, but that didn’t exactly happen. Many consider her box office poison, but the Resident Evil movies do well and they are fun for what they are. You can count me among the people who find Jovovich kicking ass (often in rain and often in 3-D) to be appealing enough to lure me to the theater when there’s not much of anything else out.

    I have seen Looper, which I must admit I found to be somewhat overhyped. I’m hoping Rian Johnson can do something more interesting with Star Wars than The Force Awakens. The Farrelly brothers have apparently lost their touch. But Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin and Something About Mary were very funny movies.

    Ernie Hudson gained some immortality (but apparently not much money) from Ghostbusters. I’m always happy to see him in something. Wes Studi made the most of his career bump post Dances With Wolves. Eugene Levy is a funny man who has made some really lousy movies. He keeps cashing checks for American Pie movies, so I hope he is very rich. Pretty sure he must be by now.

    I can’t be the only one who confuses Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton, right? I know which one is which, but when I type out their names there is a 50/50 chance I will get the right one. Giovanni Ribisi has done a ton of stuff, but I always think of him as Phoebe’s brother on Friends. I think I was vaguely aware he had a twin sister.

    Laurie Holden got a raw deal on The Walking Dead. They took one of the most popular characters from the comic book and made her awful for the TV show to the point where they had to kill her off. Emma Bell played Holden’s sister who didn’t last long.

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  6. Until Lebeau brought him up, I didn’t notice Ernie Hudson’s name. That was my folly; I remember Ernie Hudson in more than “Ghostbusters”, as he was in “The Crow” along with this 1998 HBO film I thought was okay, titled “Butter” (straight butter?).

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  7. As of tonight, Sarah Paulson has a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries for The People vs. O.J. Simpson. I’m sure it will look very nice in her home, right next to the Emmy she won for the same show. 🙂

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