December 17: Happy Birthday Rian Johnson and Wes Studi


Writer and director Rian Johnson is celebrating his 44th today.  He is currently getting a lot of attention for his involvement in a movie that opened this past Friday, one which doubtless this blog will give at least a tiny bit of attention to.  Johnson attended USC, graduating from the university’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1996.  In the year of his graduation he made a short titled Evil Demon Golfball From Hell!!  In the next few years, he picked up some work as an editor, including editing the horror film May.  His debut film as a director and screenwriter came out in 2005—a modestly-budgeted film noir homage, set at a high school.

Brick won a number of film festival awards, including a Special Jury Prize at Sundance.  His next two features were a caper film centered on con artists, The Brothers Bloom, and a time-travel thriller, Looper, which was his first major box office success.  He has also done some television directing, receiving a DGA award for an episode of Breaking Bad.  And then, a little over three years ago, he was handed the keys to the Star Wars franchise (for a time) as the director and writer of The Last Jedi.

Native American actor Wes Studi is turning 71 today.  He was born and grew up in Cherokee County, Oklahoma—fittingly, as he is a Cherokee—and served in the US Army in Vietnam.  He began working in film and television in the late 1980s, and early in the 1990s had small roles in Dances with Wolves and The Doors.  His first major film role was as Magua in Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans, and a year later he was cast as the title character in Walter Hill’s Geronimo: An American Legend.

While Studi has never had another starring role in a big budget film comparable to Geronimo, he has worked steadily ever since.  Michael Mann brought him back as one of Al Pacino’s detective team in Heat, and he played the mysterious, epigram-spouting superhero The Sphinx in Mystery Men.  Probably his biggest in the last two decades has been on TV—he played Tony Hillerman’s Navajo detective, Joe Leaphorn, on three PBS Mystery! adaptations of Hillerman’s novels (also starring Adam Beach as Jim Chee).  Studi was a regular on the third season of Penny Dreadful and appeared in this year’s Hostiles.

Claire Forlani, who is 46 today, was part of the ensemble cast of Mystery Men alongside Wes Studi.  Some of her other prominent film roles have been in Mallrats, Meet Joe Black, Antitrust, and TriggermenJuliet Aubrey, who celebrates her 51st, is a prominent British television actress.  She won a BAFTA Television Award for starring as Dorothea Brooke in an adaptation of Middlemarch, and last year had prominent roles in the features Fallen and The Infiltrator.

Our sports birthday today is Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, who is 39.  Considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the history of the sport, Pacquiao is the only boxer in history to have won world titles in eight different weight divisions, ranging from flyweight to super welterweight.

American novelist John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969) was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his novel A Confederacy of Dunces.  His novels went unpublished during his lifetime, but several years after he committed suicide in 1969, Toole’s mother was able to interest novelist Walker Percy in Confederacy; Percy was able to get it published.

Sarah Paulson and Milla Jovovich were the headliners on this day one year ago.

Earlier this year, Sarah Paulson, who is 43 today, picked up a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for season one of American Crime Story (to go with the Emmy she won last year).  She returned to season 7 of American Horror Story as a regular, had major supporting roles in the films Rebel in the Rye and the upcoming The Post, and next year will be part of the heist crew in Ocean’s EightMilla Jovovich, who celebrates her 42nd, returned to the role of Alice one last time in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.  Having apparently slain her last zombie, Jovovich has been cast in a major role in the upcoming Hellboy reboot, and appeared in Rob Reiner’s Shock and Awe, screened earlier this year at Zurich.

Director Gregg Araki, who is 58, has been working in television; he directed two episodes of 13 Reasons Why and an upcoming one of RiverdaleErnie Hudson, who cameoed in last year’s Ghostbusters and is in the upcoming Nappily Ever After, is 72 today.  Eugene Levy, who is celebrating his 71st, is the co-creator, executive producer and star (alongside Catherine O’Hara) of the Canadian series Schitt’s CreekBill Pullman turns 64; he was a regular on the USA Network miniseries The Sinner and will play Nelson Rockefeller in the upcoming BackseatGiovanni Ribisi, the star of Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, is turning 43; his twin sister Marissa is retired from acting.  Katheryn Winnick, who is 40, continues to star on History Channel’s Vikings and appeared in this summer’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark TowerKiersey Clemons, who is 24 today, has yet to make her debut as Iris West in the DC Extended Universe, as her scenes from Justice League were cut from the final release and The Flash has been delayed.  Nat Wolff, seen this year in the features Death Note and Home Again, is turning 23.

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.


Posted on December 17, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have been a fan of Rian Johnson’s Brick since I first saw it—a very good small-budget film with some great performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, etc. The Brothers Bloom wasn’t quite as good but still very enjoyable.

    Wes Studi was a formidable villain in The Last of the Mohicans. It was nice to see him turn up in Heat, and he was also great as the inscrutable mentor in Mystery Men.

    Sarah Paulson’s mid-career surge continues to go well, and is probably a source of hope for a lot of younger actresses still trying to make it.


  2. If that is a recent pix of Wes Studi…he looks great.


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