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November 24: Happy Birthday Conleth Hill and Stephen Merchant

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In the past two decades, Conleth Hill, who turns 53 today, has had an extremely successful stage career.  After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London, Hill worked regularly at the Lyric Theatre of Belfast, Northern Ireland’s main full-time drama venue.  He made his West End and Broadway debuts in Marie Jones’s two-hander, Stones in His Pocket, in 2000 and 2001, respectively; he received an Olivier Award and was a Tony nominee.  He has won a second Olivier Award for the original London production of the musical The Producers, and was a Tony nominee for the original Broadway production of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer.

Hill began making regular guest appearances on British television in the late 1980s, and more recently he has appeared in films such as Perrier’s Bounty.  His most significant screen role has undoubtedly been as Varys, the Spider, on Game of Thrones.  He is one of two members of his family involved with the series; his younger brother, Ronan, has won three Emmys for sound mixing for his work on the show.

Stephen Merchant is turning 43 today.  While studying at the University of Warwick, he also worked on the student radio station, and after graduating he went to work for the radio station XFM London, where he began a productive partnership with Ricky Gervais.  In 2001 they began their most well-known project, as the creators, writers and directors of the British sitcom The Office—Merchant shared in three BAFTA Situation Comedy Awards for the series, and later an Emmy for the American version.  Merchant and Gervais followed up with another comedy series, Extras.

Merchant and Gervais have since created the series An Idiot Abroad and Life’s Too Short, and also directed the film Cemetery Junction.  Merchant has made guest appearances on American television series such as Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, and made his feature film debut in Hot Fuzz.  Earlier this year, he had a rare non-comic role, as Caliban in Logan.

French actor and director Alain Chabat turns 59 today.  He is a four-time Cesar nominee in acting categories, and received a Cesar for Best Debut for directing the 1997 film Didier.  American audiences might remember him for playing Napoleon in Night at the Museum: Battle of the SmithsonianDanielle Nicolet, who turns 44, is known for her starring role on TV One’s Born Again Virgin and also had a supporting role in Central Intelligence.  Spanish actress Aida Folch, who is 31 today, is best known for her Goya Award nominated performance in The Artist and the ModelPeyton Meyer, who played Lucas Friar on Girl Meets World, is turning 19.

Howard Duff (1913-2000) starred on radio’s The Adventures of Sam Spade and first became known to film viewers in Brute Force and The Naked City.  Universal’s attempt to build him into a leading man didn’t pan out, but he later had a long career on television, including starring roles on Mr. Adams and Eve (where he costarred with his wife at the time, Ida Lupino), Dante, Felony Squad, and Flamingo RoadCathleen Nesbitt (1888-1982) appeared in films such as Pygmalion, Three Coins in the Fountain, and Family Plot (Hitccock’s last film), but the English actress was best know for a stage career that included playing Henry Higgins’s mother in My Fair Lady.

Katherine Heigl and Billy Connolly were our November 24 headliners a year ago.

Katherine Heigl, our WTHH birthday, is turning 39.  She still can’t seem to catch a break—her latest feature, Unforgettable, had mediocre box office receipts and less than mediocre reviews, while CBS canceled her new series, Doubt, after only two episodes had aired.  Sir Billy Connolly, who turns 75, was knighted earlier this year.  The Big Yin was also the subject of the BBC’s Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime earlier this year.

Shirley Henderson, who is 52, returned to the role of Gail Houston for T2 Trainspotting, and will play Lucille Hardy in the upcoming Stan and OllieGarret Dillahunt, who was seen this year on the second season of Hand of God and in the action thriller Wheelman, is 53.  Sarah Hyland, who is 27 today, continues to be a regular on Modern FamilyColin Hanks, who celebrates his 40th, can be seen starring on the current season of Life in PiecesKarine Vanasse, who is turning 34, is starring on the Canadian crime drama Cardinal as Lise Delorme.  Emir Kusturica, who is 63, directed and starred in his latest feature, On the Milky Road, which was a finalist for the Golden Lion at Venice in 2016.

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 November 24, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I did not recognize Varys with hair.

    Stephen Merchant is one of those actors where it took me a while to put a name to a face. I had seen him in things like The Office, but didn’t really learn his name until he did voice work for Lego Dimensions because once I heard his voice I had to figure out who he was.

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  2. Conleth Hill has, in addition to playing a sizable role on Game of Thrones, had a very nice stage career, although not one that has been archived on much in the way of readily available video footage.

    Howard Duff was one of those performers who, although never becoming a very big name, found steady work in film and television for decades. He and Ida Lupino were married for over 30 years—one of their joint gigs was a guest appearance as villains on Batman in the season 3 episode “The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra.” She played Dr. Cassandra, he was her muscleman Cabala.

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