Vanessa Hudgens turned 29 yesterday. The Filipina-American actress began working in regional musical theater as a child and made her first TV guest appearances at the age of thirteen. A year later, she made her feature film debut in a supporting role in Thirteen. A year later she appeared as Tintin in the feature film adaptation of Thunderbirds, which was a flop. She bounced back from that setback in the role that is probably her most famous, Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical trilogy—the first two were Disney Channel TV movies while the third was released theatrically.
The absence of any superstar names from today’s birthday list makes it a good day to highlight a pair of younger faces.
Michelle Dockery celebrates her 35th today. The English actress made her stage debut in Nicholas Wright’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. She was an Olivier Award nominee for Peter Flannery’s play Burnt by the Sun, and also won accolades for her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in Peter Hall’s 2007 production of Pygmalion. She has had roles in films like Anna Karenina and Non-Stop, and appears in the upcoming The Sense of an Ending.
But the role she is best known for, the one that has brought Dockery three Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress, is playing Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey:
The biographical film has a pretty checkered history. Sometimes the real facts of a person’s life need only a little dramatic polishing to produce something truly entertaining and meaningful. Other times you can feel the filmmakers stretching to really fill out what should be a fascinating story because while the events or accomplishments may be enormously important, that doesn’t mean that they are very cinematic. Unfortunately, despite some truly wonderful and engaging elements, the new Stephen Hawking biopic too often falls into the latter category.