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May 14: Happy Birthday Cate Blanchett and George Lucas

0514LucasBlanchett2

Our two headliners were both involved in a 2008 movie.  One played a villain, the other co-wrote the story.  So naturally they were photographed together at the Cannes premiere of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett is turning 48 today.  After graduating from Australia’s National Institute for Dramatic Arts in 1992, she began working on stage; her roles include the title role in Sophocles’ Electra and Ophelia in Hamlet.  She made her feature film debut in 1997, co-starring in Paradise Road and starring in Oscar and Lucinda.  Just a year later, she won Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards, and received an Oscar nomination, for playing the title role in Elizabeth.  Her first Oscar win came six years later, for Best Supporting Actress, playing none other than Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.

Blanchett has made periodic forays into big-budget action films.  Besides that Indiana Jones movie, she played Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, and will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok later this year.  She will also star in Ocean’s Eight.  But she is more likely to be found in prestige pictures.  At the 80th Academy Awards, she was a nominee for both Best Actress, for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and for Best Supporting Actress, for I’m Not There.  She won Best Actress for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and two years later was nominated again for Carol.

She has also continued to be an active stage performer.  She has won Australia’s equivalent to a Tony, the Helpmann Award, four times, and she and her husband, playwright and stage director Andrew Upton, were artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company for several years.  Earlier this year she made her Broadway debut in The Present, an adaptation by her husband of an early Chekhov play.

George Lucas is 73 today.  He began working in various capacities on films while attending USC, and after graduating he turned a student film of his into his first feature, THX 1138.  Although it was not a big success, he was able to get the resources to start his own production company, Lucasfilm, Inc., and to make a second feature, American Graffiti, which became one of the biggest hits of 1973.  He then wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, but was unable to get the rights, so he settled for writing a space opera style story of his own.

You all probably know the rest of the story.  Star Wars became the 2nd biggest box office draw of all time in inflation-adjusted terms, after only Gone With the Wind.  Say what you will about its shortcomings, or Lucas’s as a director and writer—and there is plenty to be said—it is one of the most influential films ever made.  As a producer and businessman, Lucas has had very few equals in the century-and-change history of the film industry.

Two other significant filmmakers celebrate today.  Sofia Coppola is 46 today.  When she won Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation, the Coppolas became the second family to have three generations of Oscar-winners (by coincidence, the first such family is also represented in today’s article).  She is also known for writing and directing The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and Somewhere.  And less memorably, for her Razzie-winning performance as Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part IIIRobert Zemeckis, who is 65, also has an Oscar on his mantle, for Best Director for Forrest Gump.  That film capped a great decade for Zemeckis, during which he also directed Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future (and its sequels), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  His subsequent films have included Cast Away and Flight.

Danny Huston, son of director John Huston, turns 55 today.  He has starred in John Sayles’ Silver City, appeared with Cate Blanchett in The Aviator, and played Emperor Joseph II in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.  One of Huston’s costars in Silver City, Tim Roth, celebrates his 56th.  Roth was an Oscar nominee for Rob Roy and has appeared in several of Quentin Tarantino’s films, as well as playing Emil Blonsky in The Incredible Hulk.

Martine McCutcheon, who turns 41, has had a #1 hit in the UK with “Perfect Moment,” was part of the ensemble cast of Love, Actually, had a three year run on the durable BBC soap EastEnders, and won an Olivier Award as Eliza Doolittle in a revival of My Fair Lady.

English stage and screen actress Indira Varma, who plays Ellaria Sand on Game of Thrones, is turning 44 today.  Gabriel Mann, who is 45, starred as Nolan Ross on Revenge, and has had supporting roles in films ranging from Josie and the Pussycats to the first two Bourne movies.  Amber Tamblyn, known for her starring roles on Joan of Arcadia and in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films, turns 34.  Carla Jimenez, who stars on Fox’s The Mick, is turning 43.  Australian actress Ada Nicodemou, who celebrates her 40th, has been a regular on the long-running Aussie soap opera Home and Away for 17 years.  Miranda Cosgrove, who is 24 today, is best known for her roles on Nickelodeon, as Megan on Drake and Josh and the title character of iCarly.

Two members of the cast of David Lynch’s Dune celebrate today.  Francesca Annis, who played Lady Jessica, turns 72.  She is best known for her work on stage and British television, where she is a six-time BAFTA Award nominee, and also was featured in the cult classic KrullDame Siân Phillips, who is turning 84, played Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim.  She also has had a notable stage career, and on British television is known for winning a BAFTA Award for I, Claudius, and for playing George Smiley’s wife, Ann, on Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People.

Mark Zuckerberg celebrates his 33rd birthday today.  The co-founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook, through that company, he has had a transformative effect on the online world somewhat similar to what George Lucas has had on film (in my modest opinion).  He was played by Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network.

David Byrne, who is turning 65, was the lead singer and guitarist of the new wave band Talking Heads, has subsequently released a number of solo albums, and won an Oscar and a Grammy for the score and soundtrack album for The Last EmperorDanny Wood, best known as a member of the boy band New Kids on the Block (should they now be a “middle aged guy band?”), turns 48.  Dan Auerbach, who is 38 today, is the guitarist and lead singer of the garage rock band The Black Keys.  The band has won seven Grammys and Auerbach personally has added an eighth for Producer of the Year.  Dub Jones (1928-2000) is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the R&B/early rock band The Coasters.  Jack Bruce (1943-2014), often ranked among the greatest bass guitarists of all time, is best known for his contributions as a member of Cream.  Conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973) fashioned a distinguished career in the US and England after migrating from Germany when the Nazis took power (he was Jewish).  He was the father of actor Werner Klemperer, known as Col. Klink of Hogan’s Heroes.

To go with a third generation Oscar-winner, we have a third-generation NFL player celebrating today; Clay Matthews III turns 31.  A six-time Pro Bowl linebacker, he started, and played very well, for the Green Bay Packers as they won Super Bowl XLV.  Another NFL star, Rob Gronkowski, celebrates his 28th.  The New England Patriots tight end has made five Pro Bowls and played for two Super Bowl champions with the Pats.  Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Perez, who is 75, was one of the core player for the “Big Red Machine,” the Cincinnati Reds team that won consecutive World Series in 1975 and 1976.

Singer and actor Bobby Darin (1936-1973) had a number of Top Ten hits in the late fifties and sixties, including the #1 hit “Mack the Knife” as well as others like “Splish Splash,” “Things,” and “You’re the Reason I’m Living,” the latter three all written by Darin.  His acting career included a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Captain Newman, M.D., as well as major roles in films such as Come September and Hell Is for Heroes.  Darin had a weak heart as a result of a severe childhood illness and died of it at 37.

English actress June Duprez (1918-1984) was a leading lady in a number of major films from about 1936 to 1947, most notably The Four Feathers, the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad, None But the Lonely Heart, and CalcuttaBillie Dove (1903-1997) was a prominent leading lady during the twenties.  Much of her filmography is lost but she can be seen starring opposite the great Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate.

English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was one of the leading artists of the 18th century.  He was famous as both a portraitist and a landscape painter.  His most famous portrait is The Blue Boy, while Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, which sounds like a portrait from its title, actually combines a portrait and a landscape view.

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 May 14, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. daffystardust

    That clip from The Aviator, while certainly featuring a very fine performance from Blanchett, does little to raise my esteem for Hughes or DiCaprio. The first is merely my reaction to the character of Hughes as written, not necessarily the real life man, but despite his age at the time, DiCaprio still looks like a teenager across from the elegant Blanchett.

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  2. Is Cate Blanchett the leading actress of her generation (however you define it)? It’s probably too soon to say for sure, but she definitely is one of the contenders.

    George Lucas, we’ve had plenty of discussion of, and I’ve spelled out what I think of him multiple times. A great and enormously successful producer, not a great director or writer.

    For a while there in the eighties and early nineties, Robert Zemeckis had an incredible feel for what kind of movies would make for good popular entertainment. Romancing the Stone and Who Framed Roger Rabbit will probably always be my favorites among his films. But Back to the Future is very good, too, and Forrest Gump, schmaltz though it is, has some pretty strong moments.

    Then we have members of both the Coppola and Huston families represented—and as an extra bit of coincidence Sofia Coppola and Danny Huston have made a movie together.

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  3. Good, another 2 for one headline photo.
    Cate Blanchett, I think she’s a great, great actress; I first saw her in “Pushing Tin” though I wasn’t very familiar with her yet (nor was I of Angelina Jolie in the same film), but by the time I viewed “The Talented Mr. Ripley” & “The Gift” (which she clearly has) I began to understand that she was someone to pay close attention to.
    George Lucas, “American Graffiti” is pretty iconic (I knew people who were fans of it in 1995, so it seems like it can be relatable from one generation to the next) & the Star Wars franchise is such a humongous property, so even though I don’t really agree with his explanation on having a long-term plan for the Star Wars brand (he’s an idea man, but I think others do a better job of organizing those ideas), he did create something beautiful.
    Sofia Coppola, maybe her acting skills was borderline (no, I didn’t think she ruined “The Godfather III”), I think she’s made a fine director; really like “Lost in Translation” especially. I find her very attractive as well.
    Robert Zemeckis, ha ha, “Used Cars”. That’s just the tip of the iceberg with this guy though, and I feel his output was especially strong up to “Matchstick Men” (I think “Flight” was a nice bounce back).
    Tim Roth, I really liked his character in “Reservoir Dogs” (maybe my favorite character in the film), and I kind of liked the 1997 film “Deceiver” too.
    David Byrne, I have a couple of The Talking Heads CD’s: “The Talking Heads: 77” and their 1984 live album “Stop Making Sense”. My favorite song of theirs is “Road to Nowhere”. I remember his guest appearance on “The Simpsons” too.

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