September 24: Happy Birthday Ben Platt and Jessica Lucas
Ben Platt is celebrating his 24th birthday. He dropped out of Columbia University after only a few weeks of attendance to pursue his acting career. He made his film debut in 2012, playing the supporting role of Benji Applebaum, the illusionist turned a cappella singer, in Pitch Perfect. Three years later, he returned to the role of Benji in Pitch Perfect 2, where his character got to romance Hailee Steinfeld as Emily. He has also made film appearances in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Ricki and the Flash, and will be in the upcoming Drunk Parents.
However, Platt’s true vocation seems to be in musical theater. He made his performing debut shortly before his ninth birthday, as Winthrop Paroo in a Hollywood Bowl concert performance of The Music Man. He later appeared in the national tour of Caroline, or Change, and in a 2015 concert performance of The Secret Garden. He made his Broadway debut in 2014 as a replacement in the cast of The Book of Mormon, in the role of Elder Arnold Cunningham. His most famous role to date has been as the title character in Dear Evan Hansen, which he played in the 2015 world premiere in Washington, DC, in the 2016 Off-Broadway production, and starting in November 2016, in the original Broadway production. Platt won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical and a long list of other accolades as Evan Hansen.
It’s the 32nd birthday of Canadian actress Jessica Lucas. She began acting in 2000, and a year later landed her first significant role, on the Canadian series Edgemont, as the recurring character, later promoted to regular, of Bekka Lawrence. She made her film debut in a small role in She’s the Man, and then seemed to be stuck in “scream queen” parts for several years, as she appeared in the horror films The Covenant, Cloverfield, Amusement, and the 2013 “soft reboot” of The Evil Dead. She also had a supporting role in Paul W. S. Anderson’s Pompeii.
On the small screen, Lucas had two additional regular roles while still in her teens, on the Canadian sci-fi series 2030 CE and the ABC teen drama Life as We Know It. More recently, she had a recurring part on 90210 and then a regular role on the short-lived reboot of Melrose Place. A couple of other regular parts in short-lived series followed, before she was cast for season 2 of Fox’s Gotham, in the role of Tabitha Galavan.
Writer and producer John Logan is turning 56 today. He is a three-time Oscar nominee for screenwriting, for Gladiator, The Aviator, and Hugo, and a Golden Globe winner as a producer of the film adaptation of Sweeney Todd. His film writing credits also include Skyfall and Spectre. He was the creator of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful and the sole writer for the first two seasons. He began his career writing for the stage, and his plays include the 2010 Tony winner for Best Play, Red.
English actress Dame Harriet Walter, who is celebrating her 67th, is a three-time Olivier Award nominee for Best Actress, winning the 1988 honor for a portfolio of performances including Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Chekhov’s Three Sisters. She was a Tony nominee for a revival of Schiller’s Mary Stuart, playing the role of Elizabeth I of England. She has a long list of film and television credits; one small role that many would recognize is her appearance in The Force Awakens as the doctor who attends to Chewbacca (“That sounds very scary. You must be so brave.”).
Kimberley Nixon, who is well known to English television audiences from her regular roles on Fresh Meat, Hebburn, Critical, and other series, celebrates her 32nd. Grey Damon, who turns 30, was the star of CBS’s Aquarius and has appeared as Sam Scudder/Mirror Master on The Flash. Eloise Mumford, known for playing Kate Kavanaugh in the Fifty Shades films, is turning 31. Danish bodybuilder and stuntman Sven-Ole Thorsen, who is 73 today, made a nice career out of appearing as giant henchmen and similar characters in action films—he was involved in over a dozen of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films.
New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton turns 32 today. She became the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for her 2013 novel The Luminaries. Horace Walpole (1717-1797) had a lengthy career in British politics, but is remembered today primarily for his novel The Castle of Otranto, generally regarded as the first Gothic novel.
John Mackey (1941-2011) made the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the finest tight ends of the 1960s, but his really big contributions to the game’s history were probably as president of the NFL Player’s Association, and for his post-retirement role in getting the NFL to adopt the “88 plan” to provide for assisted living care for retired NFL players. Eddie George, who is 44 today, was a four-time Pro Bowl running back who rushed for over 10,000 yards in his NFL career. After his retirement he discovered a talent for the stage, and made his Broadway debut as Billy Flynn in the long-running production of Chicago.
John Marshall (1755-1835) was the fourth Chief Justice of the United States, serving from 1801-1835. During his long tenure, he was responsible for Supreme Court decisions in cases like Marbury v. Madison and McCullough v. Maryland, which built up the institutional power of the Court and the judicial branch of the government.
One year ago today, we had Brad Bird and Jim Henson as headliners.
Brad Bird is 60 today. His latest project is The Incredibles 2, which he is writing and directing, and of course is the voice of Edna Mode. It is scheduled for release in June of 2018.
Steve Whitmire, who is 58, may not be in a celebratory mood, as after over 25 years he is no longer the voice of Kermit the Frog; explanations for his dismissal differ. Nia Vardalos is 55. She returned to the role of Toula Portokalos last year in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, but lightning did not strike a second time—it was a modest financial success but a critical failure. David Anspaugh, who is 71, is primarily a producer these days, with recent credits including Mr. Church and The Good Catholic. Kevin Sorbo, recently seen as Lar-Gand on Supergirl, is 59 today. Gordon Clapp, who is turning 69, appears in the recurring role of Chaplain Orlovsky on Chicago Fire.
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.