Category Archives: Celebrity Birthdays
Anthony Mackie is turning 39 today. He graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts and then from Juilliard. He made his film debut in Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile in 2002, and had his first starring role in Brother to Brother two years later. He had a breakthrough performance in the 2009 Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, and since then has had prominent supporting roles in films such as Notorious, The Adjustment Bureau, Man on a Ledge, and Triple 9. But the film role he is best known for is undoubtedly that of Sam Wilson/Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has appeared in four installments so far, with at least two more in the offing, and has been a popular character since his first appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Anna Karina turns 77 today. The Danish-born actress (given name Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer), who became one of the biggest stars of French film, appeared in a Danish short film at the age of 14, and moved to Paris at 17, where according to some accounts she lived on the streets for a while before finding work as a model. Director Jean-Luc Godard saw some of her modeling work, and ended up giving her a starring role in his film The Little Soldier. This was the first of eight films that Godard and Karina made from 1960 to 1966 (during part of which time they were married). Others included My Life to Live, Band of Outsiders, and Pierrot le fou.
Country pop star Faith Hill turns 50 today. She grew up singing at churches in the Jackson, Mississippi area, and moved to Nashville to try to start a singing career when she turned 19. She worked for a while as a secretary at a music publisher, and also sang backup vocals for a singer named Gary Burr. A Warner’s executive heard her performing with Burr one night and signed Hill to a recording contract. Her first album, Take Me as I Am, came out in 1993.
Hill’s first two albums both reached the top 10 on the Country charts, but it was her third album, Faith, released in 1998, that she entered her period of greatest success. It was a top 10 performer on both the Country charts and the Billboard 200, and her next three albums reached #1 on both charts. She has won five Grammys, including one for this 2005 hit.
With today’s headliners, I had one who was extremely photogenic, for whom I had a wide choice of images, and one for whom the choice was very limited, so I decided to represent him by his most famous creations.
Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung is celebrating her 53rd birthday. She was born in Hong Kong, but spent part of her childhood in England and lived in Paris for about a decade; she is fluent in English and French as well as Cantonese. One of her earliest roles came when Jackie Chan cast her in Police Story as May, the long-suffering girlfriend of Chan’s character; she reprised the role in two sequels. During her first decade of work she often made 8-10 features a year, often comedies, sometimes action comedies like Paper Marriage and The Heroic Trio.
In 1988, Cheung made her first of several films with director Wong Kar-Wai, As Tears Go By, which begins what could be called the “prestige film” stage of her career. Beginning in 1989, Cheung won the Best Actress honor at the Hong Kong Film Awards five times, and at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards four times. In 2004 she became the first Asian actress to win Best Actress at Cannes. Along with several collaborations with Wong, In the Mood for Love being the best known, she has made several films with French director Oliver Assayas (the two were married from 1998-2001), and also starred in Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box and Zhang Yimou’s Hero.
Jimmy Fallon celebrates his 43rd birthday today. He dropped out of college in 1995 to pursue a career in comedy. He got his start, as have a number of our past headliners, with The Groundlings, the LA area improv comedy troupe. After three years with them, he achieved a longtime dream when he was added to the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1998. He was known for celebrity impersonations, for being one of the Boston Teens with Rachel Dratch, and for “anchoring” Weekend Update with Tina Fey.
Fallon began working in film in the early 2000s. He had a small role in Almost Famous, and about the time he left SNL, he appeared in his first starring role, in the action comedy Taxi. He followed that up a year later by starring with Drew Barrymore in a remake of the English rom-com Fever Pitch, which relocated the story to the US and substituted baseball for soccer.
Jason Sudeikis turns 42 today. He began his career working in improv comedy, first with ComedySportz in Kansas City, then with a variety of other comedy troupes across the country. In 2003 he was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live, and was added to the show’s regular performing cast two years later, remaining through 2013. His regular sketches and characters included DJ Supersoak, Pete Twinkie, the ESPN host, and performing with Kristen Wiig in the “Two A-holes” sketches.
During his SNL year, Sudeikis also had recurring roles on 30 Rock and Eastbound & Down, and was a regular, as a voice actor, on The Cleveland Show. He began to get prominent film roles around 2010, with major supporting roles in The Bounty Hunter, the Horrible Bosses films, and The Campaign. His first leading role came in We’re the Millers in 2013.
Sam Esmail is celebrating his 40th birthday. He grew up in New Jersey and became one of the long list of film or television creators who attended NYU’s Tisch School, and then earned an MFA from the AFI Conservatory. He began working in film and television in the late 2000s, when he wrote his first screenplay, and worked as a post-production supervisor for HBO First Look. However, Esmail did not begin to actually work as a filmmaker until several years later; his first feature, Comet, which he wrote and directed, came out in 2014. That same year he wrote the screenplay for Mockingbird.
Esmail is best known as the creator of the USA Network series Mr. Robot, which will return for its third season next month. Esmail has written over half of the show’s 22 episodes so far and directed about two-thirds of them. Esmail is also involved in a new Amazon series title Homecoming, which reportedly will star Julia Roberts. He has won a Golden Globe for Mr. Robot, and while he has not yet received any honors from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, he does have an Emmy. 🙂
It’s Alexis Bledel’s 36th birthday today. She grew up in the Houston area and was encouraged by her mother to get involved in community theater; she also made an uncredited cameo in Rushmore, which was filmed in the Houston area. Her first prominent film role came in a 2002 adaptation of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting. In the mid-2000s she made a few high-profile films, appearing as Becky in Sin City and Lena Kaligaris in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films. More recently, she has appeared in indie films such as The Kate Logan Affair and Violet & Daisy.
Bledel has begun working in theater again; she is one of a long list of actresses who have appeared in the off-Broadway production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore. She has made a few TV guest appearances, and recently won her first Emmy, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, for her appearance on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. However, most of America got to know her when she starred for seven seasons as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls (and, recently, on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life).
Today is Oliver Stone’s 71st birthday. He attended Yale for two short periods, then enlisted in the US Army and served in Vietnam. He eventually graduated from NYU and worked at various jobs while trying to get a start in the film industry. He directed his first film, Seizure, in 1974, but didn’t really start to become known until winning his first Oscar, for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 1979 film Midnight Express.
Stone then wrote a number of screenplays in the early 1980s, ranging from Scarface to Conan the Barbarian, before having a breakthrough year in 1986. Salvador, the first of his two films that year, was a critical success, but a box office failure. It was eclipsed by the partly autobiographical Platoon, which won Best Picture and brought Stone a Best Director Oscar.
South Korea filmmaker Bong Joon-ho is celebrating his 48th birthday today. He began working in film as a screenwriter in the 1990s, and made his first film as a director in 2000, Barking Dogs Never Bite. He followed that up with Memories of Murder, a crime drama, a monster film titled The Host, and a family drama, Mother. All three of these won Best Picture at one or more of the Grand Bell Awards, the Blue Dragon Awards (these are the Korean counterparts to the Oscars), or the Asian Film Awards. Bong’s most recent film, Okja, screened for the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier this year. However, American audiences are most likely to know him for his first English language film, the 2013 post-apocalyptic thriller Snowpiercer.
Producer Frank Marshall is turning 71 today. He got his start in the film industry through Peter Bodgdanovich; he met the director at a party and wound up as Bogdanovich’s assistant on Targets. He then worked with Bogdanovich on several subsequent films, taking on more responsibility each time until he was a credited producer on Nickelodeon. Marshall then worked with Martin Scorsese on The Last Waltz and with Walter Hill on The Driver and The Warriors. In 1981, he began his must durable association with a director, working on a film that became the first of five Best Picture nominees he would produce.
Ben McKenzie is turning 39 today. He has been a regular on series television for nearly fifteen years. In 2003, at a time when he had only had a couple of TV guest spots, he was cast as Ryan Atwood, the troubled teen who was a central character on The O.C.; he appeared in every episode of the series four-year run. Two years after that gig ended, he was cast as rookie cop Ben Sherman on TNT’s Southland (the series originally aired on NBC).
McKenzie’s film career has largely been in supporting roles, in films such as Junebug (his feature film debut) and Goodbye World. A couple of exceptions have been in his portrayal of Joe Bonham in the one-man show adaptation of Johnny Got His Gun, and, in a bit of casting that was subsequently ironic, as Bruce Wayne/Batman in an animated adaptation of Batman: Year One. For the past three years, he has been starring as James Gordon on Fox’s Gotham.
Brian De Palma is celebrating his 77th today. He made his first feature, The Wedding Party, featuring a very young Robert De Niro, in 1963, but it was not released until 1969. He made several documentaries in the sixties, and re-teamed with De Niro for the 1968 film Greetings, which won a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. In the early 1970s, he made his first forays into the psychological thriller genre, films such as Sisters and Obsession that some have found Hitchcockian.
Then he became a pioneer of another sort, when in 1976 he directed the film adaptation of the first novel by a not-yet-world-famous Stephen King.