Archive for the ‘actor’ tag
Richard E. Grant is a British actor born on the 5th May 1957 in Swaziland, as Richard Esterhuysen. His father, Henrik Esterhuysen, was head of education for the British government administration in the British Protectorate of Swaziland and was of Afrikaner extraction. His mother was a white South African local ballet teacher of German extraction. Grants’ parents separated after the revelation of his mother’s affair.
Grant moved to London in 1982 but took the lead in his first feature film role in Withnail and I in 1986. A story of two drunken, hopeless actors living in squalor, the film’s black humour and distinctive Britishness led it to become quite a cult success. He soon began appearing in Hollywood productions and established himself as a reputable character actor. Grant has appeared in films such as L.A Story, Gosford Park, Spice World, Portrait of a Lady and Penelope.
Taking on a range of different projects, in 2006 Grant investigated with BBC Newsnight to expose a $98 million scam selling a bogus AIDs cure.
Loosely based on his childhood experiences in Swaziland, Grant wrote and directed the feature film Wah-Wah (2005). The film stars Julie Walters, Miranda Richardson and Nicholas Hoult and his memoirs of this film experience, as documented in The Wah-Wah Diaries, he writes of the troubled relationship he had with the film’s producer, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar.
Since the break up of his parents’ marriage Grant has kept a diary and he wears a watch on both wrists, one given to him by his dying father which remains on Swaziland time.
He has been married to voice coach Joan Washington since 1986 and they have a daughter, Olivia and he has a stepson, Tom.
Born Mark Sinclair Vincent on 18th July 1967 in New York City, New York, actor Vin Diesel was raised by his mother Delora, a psychologist, and his step-father Irving, a theatre director. He grew up in a Greenwich Village housing project with his younger siblings Tim and Samantha and non-identical twin brother Paul. Vin’s interest in acting came about by chance when he and his friends were caught breaking into a local theatre, the Theatre for the New City, when he was only 7 years old. However instead of being prosecuted for their trespassing, Vin and his friends were offered the chance to appear on stage if they attended the theatre every day after school, with Vin eventually acting in a production of Dinosaur Door. He remained associated with the theatre during his teens where he appeared in further stage productions, and briefly worked as a bouncer at several high profile New York night clubs where he was given the nickname Diesel by his friends because of his boundless energy. Vin went on to study English at Hunter College in New York, but left before graduating to kickstart his career in acting.
Vin’s acting debut came in 1995 when he wrote, directed and starred in acclaimed short film Multi-Facial. The film was well received by critics and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival where Vin’s performance caught the attention of Hollywood director Steven Spielberg. Vin’s feature length debut came in 1997 when he again wrote, directed and starred in ensemble drama Strays which premiered at the Sundance festival and won the Grand Jury prize. Vin’s career started heating up soon afterwards with Spielberg casting the actor in a small role in Saving Private Ryan in 1998 before lending his distinctive voice to acclaimed animation The Iron Giant a year later. Vin’s ascension to Hollywood star gained some huge momentum in 2000 when the actor earned a supporting role in ensemble drama Boiler Room, appearing alongside Ben Affleck, and landed the lead role in David Twohy’s cult sci-fi smash Pitch Black. Starring as escaped convict Riddick, Pitch Black heralded his emergence as an action hero with the star combining his impressive physique and distinctive voice to memorable effect. He would go on to seal his star status the following year with box office smash The Fast and the Furious.
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS
The Fast and the Furious went on to gross nearly $100 million at the US box office, kick started what would become a very successful franchise and introduced the actor to a worldwide audience. Vin was quick to take advantage of his new star status with big budget action thriller xXx in 2002 wherein he starred as an extreme sports athlete recruited as a government agent. xXx was Vin’s second box office smash in as many years but he would soon find his fortunes take a turn thanks to a string of disappointments and the star’s seeming reluctance to return to the franchises he helped create. The likes of Knockaround Guys (2002), A Man Apart (2003) and his return as Riddick in big-budget sequel The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) all flopped at the box office, whilst The Fast and the Furious franchise flourished in the star’s absence.
DOWNTURN & COMEBACK
Vin’s box office success has been inconsistent since with 2005s family comedy The Pacifier being his only hit in the 6 years after the release of xXx in 2002. With sci-fi actioner Babylon A.D (2008) and an acclaimed performance in Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty (2006) misfiring at the box office, Vin finally returned to the series that made him a star in 2009, taking leading man duties for the fourth entry of the Fast & Furious franchise. Though he had a cameo role in the third entry, Fast & Furious heavily advertised the return of Vin’s character and went on to become a huge hit and renewed interest in the star and the franchise with both going on to even greater success with a fifth instalment in 2011 that went on to gross over $600 million worldwide. Vin has since announced that he will appear in another Fast and Furious film, and his intentions to bring Riddick back to the big screen with a second sequel to Pitch Black, both of which are due for release in 2013.
Vin has kept his personal life out of the public eye and often refuses to talk about his relationships to the media. He has previously been linked to his Fast and the Furious co-star Michelle Rodriguez, and a string of models including Summer Altice. He is currently in a relationship with model Paloma Jimenez whom he has dated since 2007 and has a daughter, Hania Riley born in 2008.
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Born George Timothy Clooney on 6th May, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, George is the youngest of two children to former pageant queen Nina, and television newscaster Nick Clooney. George’s family had many showbiz connections; his aunt Rosemary was a singer, and George’s cousin, actor Miguel Ferrer, is her son with actor Jose Ferrer. George would soon follow suit with the youngster spending much of his youth on his father’s sets where he proved popular with studio audiences. However, George’s early passion was for baseball with the young man excelling at the sport during his studies at Augusta High School in Kentucky, unsuccessfully trying out for the Cincinnati Reds in 1977.
He went on to study broadcast journalism at Northern Kentucky University, but discovered a love for acting when his cousin Miguel landed him a small role in unreleased drama And They’re Off. Another minor role followed in 1978 mini-series Centennial, yet George would have to wait nearly 6 years to be cast again, doing odd jobs in construction whilst auditioning for roles. His first break would come in 1984 when he was cast in short-lived medical comedy E/R (1984-85). George quickly became a television regular; appearing in the likes of The Facts of Life (1985-87), Murder She Wrote (1987), and Roseanne (1988-1991), as well as low-profile features Return to Horror High (1987) and Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988), yet his star-making turn would come in another ER, when he was cast as Dr Doug Ross in Michael Crichton’s acclaimed medical series ER.
ER AND MAINSTREAM BREAKTHROUGH
ER proved to be instantly popular with George quickly becoming a firm favorite with female viewers, even guest-starring as a doctor in an episode of hit sitcom Friends in 1995 with co-star Noah Wyle. He earned 2 Emmy and 3 Golden Globe nominations for his performance as Doug Ross, and was soon landing lead parts in increasingly high-profile films including From Dusk Til Dawn (1996), and romantic drama One Fine Day (1996). However, George’s big screen breakthrough would have to wait when his star-making turn as Batman in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997) debuted to universally negative reviews, derailing the franchise and George’s big-screen prospects. His big-screen desires were not to be contained though and the star made a critical comeback a year later in Steven Soderbergh’s independent crime thriller Out of Sight (1998). He left ER as a series regular a year later to focus on his burgeoning film career; appearing in the likes of Three Kings (1999) and The Perfect Storm (2000) – both with Mark Wahlberg, and the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), before reuniting with Soderbergh for the star-studded remake Ocean’s Eleven (2001).
OCEAN’S ELEVEN AND BEYOND
Ocean’s was a critical and commercial success, sealing George’s reputation as an A-list star. He would reunite with Soderbergh on numerous occasions; starring in Solaris (2002), and The Good German (2006), as well as reprising the role of Danny Ocean for sequels Twelve, and Thirteen in 2004 and 2007 respectively. He has also frequently collaborated with the Coen brothers, starring in Intolerable Cruelty (2003), and Burn After Reading (2008), and has earned rave reviews and 3 Oscar nominations for his performances in Syriana (2005) for which he won Best Supporting Actor, Michael Clayton (2007), and Up in the Air (2009). He has most recently starred in Anton Corbijn’s hitman thriller The American (2011) and will next be seen in The Descendants (2011). George has also proven his talent behind the camera as well as in front of it; directing and starring in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Good Night and Good Luck (2005), Leatherheads (2008), and the forthcoming drama The Ides of March (2011).
POLITICAL ACTIVISM AND HUMANITARIAN WORK
George has publicly opposed America’s involvement in Iraq, and campaigned in support of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. In 2007 George and fellow actor Don Cheadle were awarded the Summit Peace Award at the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to raise awareness for the civil war in Darfur. George has made public speeches at rallies and in front of the UN regarding the conflict, and has frequently visited the region to produce several documentaries highlighting the atrocities the conflict has caused. In 2008 George was named as a Messenger of Peace by the UN.
George has famously had several high profile relationships, but has publicly stated he will not marry again after the breakdown of his marriage to Talia Balsam (1989-1993). He has previously dated models Lisa Snowden and Sarah Larson, and is currently in a relationship with actress Elisabetta Canalis. George is currently represented by Creative Artists Agency.
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Born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV on July 3rd, 1962, in Syracuse, New York, Tom is the third of four children to teacher Mary Lee and electrical engineer Thomas Cruise Mapother III. Raised as a Catholic, Tom had a difficult childhood; he suffered from dyslexia and had a difficult relationship with his father whom Tom has publicly criticized for his strict, abusive parenting. Tom and his family moved regularly when he was a child, living in places like New York and Ontario. Whilst living in Ontario, Tom studied at Henry Munro Middle School where he developed a passion for hockey and had his first taste of acting, appearing in a school production of IT that was filmed for Canadian television. His parents separated when he was 12 years old and he moved to New Jersey with his mother. He later briefly attended a Franciscan seminary to pursue a life as a Catholic priest, before attending New Jersey High School to develop his burgeoning acting talent.
In his late teens, Tom moved to New York City and soon earned his first acting part with a small role in Endless Love (1981). Bigger parts were on the horizon though and Tom quickly earned more substantial roles in the military drama Taps (1981), and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders (1983) before he found his breakthrough role in 1983’s Risky Business. That film was a breakout hit with Tom earning a Golden Globe nomination for his star-making performance. His first bona-fide blockbuster was yet to come though with Tom sealing his A-list status in Tony Scott’s hugely popular action thriller Top Gun (1986). The film was a worldwide success, grossing over $350 million and transforming Tom into one of Hollywood’s most popular actors. He hasn’t looked back since playing on his screen charisma and demonstrating his natural acting talent in both big budget blockbuster fare and high profile dramas.
TOM CRUISE – SUPERSTAR
With acclaimed performances in The Colour of Money (1986), and Rain Man (1988), it was only a matter of time before Tom would earn the attentions of Hollywood’s major awards; with his performance as a paraplegic Vietnam veteran in Oliver Stone’s acclaimed drama Born on the Fourth of July (1989) he earned his first Golden Globe award and his first Oscar nomination. The star reunited with Tony Scott for the Nascar thriller Days of Thunder (1989) before demonstrating consistent success in the varied likes of A Few Good Men (1992), The Firm (1993), and Interview with the Vampire (1994). However, Tom was destined for bigger, more crowd-pleasing things with the release of TV adaptation Mission Impossible (1996) setting the actor on course to being Hollywood’s most bankable star. With further Oscar nominations and Golden Globe wins for his turns in Jerry Maguire (1997), and Magnolia (1999), and box office smashes Mission Impossible 2 (2000), Minority Report (2002), The Last Samurai (2003), Collateral (2004), and War of the Worlds (2005), Tom became known as Hollywood’s proven sure thing at the box office.
However, he fell out of favour with the public thanks to some highly-publicized bizarre behavior on The Oprah Winfrey Show and his often outspoken remarks regarding his Scientologist beliefs culminating with Paramount studios refusing to renew their partnership with the actor in 2006. Tom has publicly apologized for some of his more controversial comments and has still proven to be a box office draw with Mission Impossible III (2006) grossing almost $400 million worldwide, but his latest non-franchise releases have underwhelmed with both Valkyrie (2008), and Knight and Day (2010) underperforming at the box office. He will next be seen in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011).
Tom has also had success as a producer with many of his blockbuster releases being produced by his own company, Wagner/Cruise Productions, including the Mission Impossible franchise and The Last Samurai as well as the more independent-minded releases Narc (2002) and Shattered Glass (2003).
Tom previously had high profile relationships with co-stars Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business), and Penelope Cruz (Vanilla Sky, 2001), and has been married 3 times; to Mimi Rogers (1987-1990), Nicole Kidman (1990-2001), and Katie Holmes (2006-present). He shares two adopted children with Kidman; Isabella Jane (born 1992), and Connor Cruise (born 1995), and has a biological daughter, Suri (born 2006) with current wife Katie Holmes. Tom has been nominated for 3 Oscars and 7 Golden Globes, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is currently represented by Creative Artists Agency.
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Born John Christopher Depp II on 9th June 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky, Johnny is the youngest of four children to waitress Betty Sue Palmer and civil engineer John Christopher Depp. Johnny had a somewhat turbulent childhood; his family frequently moved when he was a child, eventually settling in Miramar, Florida. His parents divorced when he was 15 years old. He studied at Miramar High School but he dropped out shortly after his parents divorce. Unfortunately the young teen occasionally found himself in trouble with the law thanks to his recreational drug and underage alcohol use.
A PASSION FOR MUSIC
As a teen, Johnny also discovered a passion for music. He taught himself to play the guitar and performed around Florida’s club circuit with local rock band, The Kids. He achieved moderate success with this band including opening for Iggy Pop. Johnny later moved to Los Angeles where he met his wife, Lori Allison, who introduced him to actor Nicolas Cage. Identiying Johnny’s potential as an actor, Nicolas helped the young man land his first role in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984 marking the start of what would be a varied and successful career.
With his matinee idol looks, it wasn’t long before Johnny got his first acting break. After a few low-profile leads and bit-parts in the likes of Platoon (1986), he landed his breakthrough role on the television series 21 Jump Street in 1987, a mere 3 years after his acting debut. Starring in 80 episodes, 21 Jump Street made Johnny a star, with the actor instantly becoming a favorite among teen audiences. However, he resented his newfound status and was keen to shake his teen reputation with increasingly unique roles. His desire to challenge himself lead him to director Tim Burton who cast Johnny as the titular Edward Scissorhands in his 1990 film. The film was a critical and commercial success, earning Johnny his first Golden Globe nomination and marking the start of a string of collaborations between the director and star.
JOHNNY DEPP AND DIRECTOR TIM BURTON
Johnny continued to impress with a slew of diverse roles including performances in Benny and Joon (1993), acclaimed drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993), crime biopic Donnie Brasco (1997), and Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), but it was his work with Burton that largely defined his early career with the actor earning another Golden Globe nomination for his work in Ed Wood (1994), and box office success with a starring turn in Sleepy Hollow (1999). The duo’s collaborations would prove to be even more prolific in the 2000’s with the releases of box office hits Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd (2007), and Alice in Wonderland (2010), the latter of which made over $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Johnny’s most iconic role however,would be under a different director, with the actor appearing as Jack Sparrow in the Disney adventure Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). The film was a box office smash, and for the first time in his career, Johnny became a blockbuster star earning him a legion of new admirers, a Golden Globe nomination, and his first Oscar nomination. It transformed him into one of cinema’s most popular actors, which he swiftly capitalized on with yet more acclaimed performances in Finding Neverland (2004); for which he earned his second Oscar nomination, and crime biopic Public Enemies (2009). He reprised the role of Jack Sparrow for the back-to-back sequels Dead Man’s Chest (2006), and At World’s End (2007), and has recently reunited with Pirates director Gore Verbinski for children’s animation Rango (2011). He will next be seen in the highly anticipated Pirates sequel On Stranger Tides (2011).
Johnny’s drug and alcohol use frequently resurfaced early in his acting career, and a few arrests for violence and destruction of property earned the actor a reputation as one of cinema’s bad boys. His passion for music has also continued to play a major part in his life with the star forming another band, P, and performing on recordings by Oasis and Shane McGowan. Johnny has had several high profile relationships, but has only been married once; to Lori Allison (1983-1985). He has previously dated Kate Moss, and actresses Jennifer Grey, and Winona Ryder, whose name he has famously tattooed on his arm. He is currently in a relationship with Vanessa Paradis whom he has dated since 1998 and shares 2 children; daughter Lily-Rose (born 1999), and son Jack (born 2002). Johnny is currently represented by United Talent Agency.
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Born Anne Jacqueline Hathaway on 12th November, 1982, in Brooklyn, New York, Anne is the second of three children to actress Kate McCauley and lawyer Gerald Hathaway. Though she was born in Brooklyn, Anne spent much of her childhood in Milburn, New Jersey after her parents moved there when she was only 6 years old. Raised as a Catholic, she initially wished to pursue life as nun, though her mother’s career meant that she also developed an interest in acting; appearing in numerous school plays whilst studying at Milburn High School. Her high school performances were well reviewed, with a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award being a solid indicator of her future success. Anne abandoned her pursuit of becoming a nun at the age of 15 after her brother came out as a homosexual and instead set her sights on an acting career; earning a place at the Barrow Group Theatre Company.
With her Barrow membership and an acclaimed performance as a soprano with the All Eastern US High School Honors Chorus, Anne’s television acting debut was not to be far behind and she won her first role in the Fox drama series Get Real in 1999. The series was ultimately short-lived, airing only 13 episodes, and Anne returned to New York to graduate high school and further her education by enrolling at New York University to study English. Her next acting break would prove to be far more successful however, landing the lead role in Disney’s The Princess Diaries in 2001.
The Princess Diaries proved to be a huge success, making Anne a star in the process and a firm favorite with family audiences. Roles in Nicholas Nickelby (2002), Ella Enchanted (2004), The Princess Diaries 2 (2004), and animated fairytale Hoodwinked (2005) further boosted her status as one of Hollywood’s most popular young actresses. However, Anne strived for more dramatically challenging roles and sought to shake her family-friendly image by playing against type in more adult-oriented fare.
Her first adult performance came with the misfiring, straight-to-dvd drug drama Havoc in 2005, but her breakthrough role came later that year when she was cast in Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed drama Brokeback Mountain starring opposite Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as the latter’s estranged wife. The film firmly planted Anne on Hollywood’s A-list and the actress soon found herself headlining high profile studio productions including The Devil Wears Prada (2006) starring opposite Meryl Streep, big-screen television revival Get Smart (2008), and Jonathan Demme’s well-received drama Rachel Getting Married (2008), for which she earned Best Actress nominations at the 2009 Oscar and Golden Globe awards. She has since appeared in a wide range of different films including the comedies Bride Wars (2009) and Valentine’s Day (2010), fantasy epic Alice in Wonderland (2010), and romantic drama Love and Other Drugs (2011), which earned the actress her second Golden Globe nomination. She can currently be heard in the children’s animation Rio (2011), and will next be seen in the romantic drama One Day (2011), and Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Anne has appeared in numerous stage productions including a production of Twelfth Night at the Delacorte Theatre in New York, and co-hosted the 83rd Annual Academy Awards with actor James Franco. She has also used her celebrity status to support numerous charities including the Step Up Women’s Network, and The Human Rights Campaign.
Anne has largely tried to keep her private life out of the limelight, however her relationship with Italian real estate developer Raffaello Follieri hit the headlines in 2008 when Follieri’s charity organization was investigated by the IRS. Anne ended the relationship shortly afterwards and Follieri himself was eventually arrested for fraud. Anne has also revealed that she suffered from depression as a teenager. She is currently in a relationship with actor Adam Shulman, and is represented by Creative Artists Agency.
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Born Maggie Ruth Gyllenhaal in New York City, New York, on 16th November, 1977, Maggie is the eldest child of screenwriter Naomi Foner and director Stephen Gyllenhaal, and the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. With her parents striving to further their careers, Maggie moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was 2 years old. Like Jake, Maggie was surrounded by her parents’ contempories as a child and developed an early interest in acting, making her film debut at the age of 15 in her father’s film Waterland in 1992. She studied at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, graduating in 1995, before enrolling at Columbia University to study literature. Whilst at Columbia, Maggie would make more infrequent film appearances including TV movie The Patron Saint of Liars (1998), and her father’s comedy Homegrown (1998). She graduated in 1999 and went on to study acting at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London before seeking out professional acting roles in independent productions.
Maggie soon landed her first professional acting job with small roles in The Photographer and John Waters’ Cecil B. DeMented in 2000. Around the same time she made her stage debut in a production of Closer at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, before appearing opposite her brother Jake in his breakthrough performance in Donnie Darko (2001). Maggie’s breakthrough would soon follow with the actress earning rave reviews for her lead performance in Steven Shainberg’s black comedy Secretary (2002), starring as a recently appointed secretary embarking on a sado-masochistic affair with her boss. She was nominated for numerous awards for her performance including a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award, and became a fixture on the independent film circuit. Maggie’s star continued to rise as she balanced supporting roles in mainstream productions with more critically acclaimed performances in independent dramas with Maggie appearing in the likes of 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002), George Clooney’s directorial debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Adaptation (2002) with Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep, and Mona Lisa Smile (2003) with Julia Roberts.
SHERRYBABY AND BEYOND
Her next highly acclaimed performance didn’t come until 2006 when she starred in Sherrybaby as an ex-con desperately trying to reconnect with her young daughter after a lengthy jail term. Maggie once again earned rave reviews and a second Golden Globe nomination, and firmly established herself as a Hollywood A-lister. She followed Sherrybaby’s critical acclaim with numerous high-profile studio productions that retained a more independent spirit; including Oliver Stone’s 9/11 drama World Trade Center (2006), and the Will Ferrell dramedy Stranger Than Fiction (2006). Her most high profile role came 2 years later when she replaced Katie Holmes in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman sequel, The Dark Knight (2008) which went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide. She has since appeared in Sam Mendes’ road movie Away We Go (2009), and country music drama Crazy Heart (2009) for which she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Maggie has often been outspoken regarding her political stance and has publicly denounced America’s invasion of Iraq. She featured in the Artists United to Win Without War campaign and has made public appearances for the American Civil Liberties Union. She also filmed a commercial for the Rock the Vote campaign and supported John Kerry and Barack Obama in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections respectively.
Aside from acting, Maggie has also had some success as a model featuring in ad campaigns for the likes of Reebok and Agent Provocateur. Maggie is currently married to actor Peter Sarsgaard, whom she has dated since 2002 and wed in a private ceremony in Italy in 2009. The couple acted alongside each other on stage in a Broadway production of Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya in 2009, and have a daughter, Ramona, born in 2006. She is currently represented by Creative Artists Agency.
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Born Dwayne Douglas Johnson in Hayward, California on May 2nd, 1972, Dwayne is the only child of Ata and professional wrestler Rocky Johnson. His father’s career meant Dwayne moved frequently as a child; spending time in Hawaii, Tennessee, and New Zealand before eventually settling in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He often watched his father’s matches and thanks to his family’s connection to the sport (his grandfather and cousins were also professional wrestlers) he quickly developed an interest in wrestling and sport.
Dwayne studied at Freedom High School where he became a fixture on the track and field and wrestling teams. He also played American football in the East Pennsylvania Conference which attracted the attention of numerous colleges. He accepted a scholarship to study at the University of Miami, where he played defense for the Miami Hurricanes winning a National championship in his first year. He graduated in 1995 and was recruited by the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League, where he featured for one season. After his contract was up, Dwayne turned his attention to professional wrestling.
WRESTLING AND ‘THE ROCK’
Dwayne signed his first contract with the WWF in 1996, making his first appearance under the name Rocky Maivia, a combination of his father and grandfather’s stage names. In the same year, he won his first belt and numerous awards including a Slammy award for Best Newcomer. He was an immediately popular wrestler though a knee injury threatened to derail his early success. He returned to the WWF in 1997, simplifying his wrestling psuedonym to ‘The Rock’ and tweaked his previous heroic image to a more charismatic villain character and quickly became a fan’s favorite, thanks to a slew of memorable catchphrases. He had a hugely successful career as The Rock; eventually winning 7 championships. However, Dwayne strived to take his popularity to the next level and turned his hand to acting.
Dwayne made his acting debut on television with an appearance in popular sitcom That 70’s Show in 1999 portraying his father, Rocky Johnson. He continued to make occasional guest appearances on television during breaks from his wrestling career, including a performance in Star Trek: Voyager and as host of Saturday Night Live in 2000. His screen presence quickly caught the attention of Hollywood producers and his film debut soon followed with a small role in blockbuster sequel The Mummy Returns in 2001. That first film proved popular enough to earn Dwayne his own spin-off feature, The Scorpion King, a year later.
Dwayne continued to balance his wrestling career with television roles and ever more frequent film appearances. He was a star being credited as The Rock and taking advantage of his wrestling persona for action films Welcome To The Jungle (2003), Walking Tall (2004), and Doom (2005). However, he was keen to test his acting abilities in different genres, proving to be as adept at comedy as he was for explosive action thanks to his performance as a homosexual bodyguard in the Get Shorty sequel Be Cool (2005), starring opposite John Travolta. Dwayne semi-retired from professional wrestling shortly afterwards in order to pursue an acting career, and changed his screen credit to his real name. He continued to defy expectations with a lead performance in Richard Kelly’s ensemble sci-fi, Southland Tales (2006), and returned to his passion for football with the likes of Gridiron Gang (2006) and children’s comedy The Game Plan (2007). Dwayne has since appeared in Get Smart (2008), the children’s adventure Race To Witch Mountain (2009), and action thrillers Faster (2011) and Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist (2011). He has since made a return to professional wrestling for the WWE and will next be seen in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2011).
Dwayne married company CEO Dany Garcia in 1997, whom he had known since his scholarship at Miami University. The couple have a daughter, Simone Alexandra Johnson (born 2001), but separated amicably in 2007. Dwayne published his autobiography The Rock Says in 2000, and has strived to raise awareness for youth voting through the WWE’s ‘Smackdown Your Vote’ campaign. Dwayne also established The Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation in 2006, a charity for terminally ill children. Dwayne is currently represented by United Talent Agency.
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Born Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal in Los Angeles, California, on 19th December, 1980, Jake is the youngest of two children to screenwriter Naomi Foner and director Stephen Gyllenhaal. His parents’ respective careers ensured Jake and his sister Maggie were frequently surrounded by filmmakers and both children developed an early interest in acting. Jake made his film debut at the age of 11; appearing opposite Billy Crystal in City Slickers in 1991. Jake made infrequent film appearances throughout his early teens, with roles in the family productions A Dangerous Woman, which was written by his mother and directed by his father, and the children’s film Josh and S.A.M. in 1993. His parents were keen that he experience a normal childhood however and encouraged him to take up working-class summer jobs and concentrate on his education. Jake attended Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, graduating in 1998, and enrolled at Columbia University to study Eastern religions before dropping out two years later after some early acting success.
FIRST SUCCESS AND INDEPENDENT BREAKTHROUGH
Jake’s first film appearance after graduating from high school was in the independent comedy Homegrown in 1998 but his first taste of critical success came a year later with a starring role in Joe Johnston’s October Sky, a drama based on the true story of NASA engineer Homer Hickham Jr. His breakthrough was soon to follow when he was cast in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko in 2001. The film was a cult smash; earning rave reviews and a host of nominations including an Independent Spirit Award award for Best Male Lead. The film made Jake a cult star and he followed it with more-acclaimed performances in high-profile independent features including The Good Girl (2002) with Jennifer Aniston, and Moonlight Mile with Dustin Hoffman (2002). Shortly afterwards Jake made his stage debut appearing in a West End production of This Is Our Youth in the same year. Jake’s acting talent would soon see him headlining big budget blockbusters, with the actor making the leap from independent favorite to box office star two years later with a role in Roland Emmerich’s disaster film The Day After Tomorrow (2004).
BOX OFFICE STAR
That film proved to be a worldwide hit, grossing over $500 million dollars, and Jake soon found himself one of Hollywood’s most sought after young actors; quickly exchanging independent dramas for big budget studio productions. A year later he would seal his A-list status with a highly acclaimed performance in Ang Lee’s romantic drama Brokeback Mountain (2005). Starring opposite Heath Ledger as a homosexual cowboy, Jake was praised for his depiction of a man struggling to come to terms with his sexual orientation, earning an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA award for his performance. More acclaimed turns would follow with Jake appearing in films by such celebrated auteurs as Sam Mendes and David Fincher, in Jarhead (2005) and Zodiac (2007) respectively. Jake has continued to balance challenging dramatic roles with more mass market blockbuster fare having recently starred in Brothers (2009), action blockbuster Prince of Persia (2010), and the romantic comedy Love and Other Drugs (2011) for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination. He can currently be seen headlining sci-fi thriller Source Code (2011).
A democrat, Jake campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, and counts former president Bill Clinton as a friend of his parents. His political views have also affected his film choices with the actor appearing in war drama Rendition in 2007, which publicly criticized the American military’s terrorist interrogation methods. He frequently campaigns to raise awareness for environmental issues such as climate change and the Future Forests program.
A close friend of Brokeback Mountain co-stars Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, Jake is godfather to their daughter, Mathilda. He briefly shunned the limelight after Heath’s tragic death and was said to have been devastated by the loss of his friend. Jake has had several high-profile relationships having dated actresses Reese Witherspoon and Kirsten Dunst for over 2 years, and has more recently been romantically linked to Natalie Portman and Taylor Swift. He is currently represented by Creative Artists Agency.
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Born Robert John Downey Jr in Manhattan, New York on April 4th 1965, Robert is the youngest of two children to actress Elsie and director Robert Downey. Robert was destined to follow in their footsteps and made his debut acting appearance at the age of five in his father’s independent feature Pound (1970). His early passion for acting lead to him studying performing arts at the Stagedoor Manor in New York until his parents divorced in 1978 and he moved to California with his father. Whilst in California, Robert studied at Santa Monica High School where he performed in numerous school productions, and had a small role in another of his father’s films, Up the Academy, in 1980.
Robert moved back to New York in 1982, where he appeared in several off-Broadway stage productions including American Passion, until he was spotted by a talent scout and promptly moved back to California where he was cast in John Sayles’ Baby It’s You (1983). He began a relationship with fellow actress Sarah Jessica Parker whilst filming Michael Apted’s Firstborn in 1984 and moved back to New York shortly afterwards. From there, Robert’s career began to take off with the actor earning supporting roles in the likes of John Hughes’ Weird Science (1985) before landing a brief stint as a series regular on Saturday Night Live’s 1985-1986 season. However, his breakthrough role came in 1987 when he was cast in the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation Less Than Zero. Robert won rave reviews for his authentic portrayal of a drug addict and a string of more high-profile roles followed suit with appearances in Chances Are (1989), and Air America (1990) opposite Mel Gibson. Robert’s acting talent would soon be recognized with a spate of awards and nominations for his performance as Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin (1992) earning the star a BAFTA award and an Oscar nomination. Robert continued to perform to great acclaim with appearances in Robert Altman’s Shortcuts (1993), and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994), however his long-standing drug addiction would threaten to derail his career.
Robert’s career has long been plagued by his high profile substance abuse. He unsuccessfully attended rehab from as early as 1987, yet his struggle with addiction would define much of his early career; coming to a head in 1996 when the actor was arrested for speeding and possession. Following more arrests, he was sentenced to three years probation and was subsequently jailed for 4 months after failing to attend some mandatory drug tests. He continued to act between stints in rehab, including performances in The Gingerbread Man (1998), U.S. Marshals (1998), and Wonder Boys (2000), but his personal life met an all time low in 1999 when he was arrested for violating the terms of his probation and began serving a three year prison sentence. He was released the following year and soon landed a role in television drama Ally McBeal for which he was awarded an Emmy and a Golden Globe, but his troubles with the law were not yet over; with his character being written out of the series after yet another arrest. Robert announced his newfound sobriety in 2003 and finally made his big-screen comeback.
BIG SCREEN COMEBACK
Robert’s comeback has largely been credited to former co-star Mel Gibson who cast the actor in The Singing Detective (2003), yet his early acclaim eluded him until he was cast in Shane Black’s independent film noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005). From there Robert’s career went from strength to strength thanks to roles in George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), and David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007). The turning point in his resurrected career came in 2008 when he was cast as Tony Stark in Marvel’s hugely successful Iron Man, making the actor a blockbuster star in the process. A role in Ben Stiller’s ensemble comedy Tropic Thunder (2008) earned him a second Oscar nomination, while Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009) sealed his newfound reputation as a box office draw. Robert has recently continued his ascension to superstardom with a second performance as Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 (2010). He will next be seen in Guy Ritchie’s forthcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel and Marvel’s highly anticipated The Avengers.
Robert had a seven year relationship with actress Sarah Jessica Parker from 1984 to 1991, and has been married twice. He has a son, Indio Falconer Downey (born 1993) from his first marriage to Deborah Falconer (1992-1996), and is currently married to producer Susan Downey (2005-present), whom he met whilst filming Gothika in 2003. Robert has also performed on many film soundtracks and released a jazz album, The Futurist, in 2004. He is currently represented by Creative Artists Agency.
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