American actor Johnny Depp

London Academy of Media Film TV

EARLY LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

TEEN HEARTTHROB

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.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

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).

PERSONAL LIFE

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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American actor James Franco

London Academy of Media Film TV

EARLY LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Franco

 

 

 

Born James Edward Franco on April 19th, 1978, in Palo Alto, California, James is the eldest of three sons to poet and children’s author Betsy and businessman Douglas Franco. James had a keen interest in the arts from a young age. He often painted and wrote in his free time, and excelled in his studies at Palo Alto High School, graduating in 1996 and enrolling at UCLA to study English in the same year. At UCLA, James’ passion for the arts led to his discovery of acting and he soon dropped out of college to undertake professional acting tutelage. He studied under Robert Carnegie at the Playhouse West theatre for 15 months before auditioning for acting roles around Los Angeles.

ACTING DEBUT

James made his acting debut with a small role in the television series Pacific Blue in 1997. He made more television appearances in the years to follow with performances in television movies 1973 (1998) and To Serve And Protect (1999), before making his film debut in the Drew Barrymore comedy Never Been Kissed in 1999. That same year James landed his first leading role as a series regular on Judd Apatow’s acclaimed television comedy Freaks and Geeks. The show was a cult hit and won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, but due to poor ratings it was ultimately cancelled after its first season. James continued to land small roles in film and television, including an episode of The X-Files, but his breakthrough eluded him until 2001 when he portrayed James Dean in the biographical TV movie of the same name. His performance was highly acclaimed; earning the actor nominations for Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Hollywood’s top producers soon came calling and James quickly landed a supporting turn as Harry Osborn in Sam Raimi’s highly anticipated Spider-Man (2000).

BIG SCREEN CAREER

James’ career has gone from strength to strength since with the star balancing more personal independent projects with high-profile supporting turns. He appeared in Nicolas Cage’s directorial debut Sonny (2002), City By The Sea (2002) with Robert De Niro, Robert Altman’s The Company (2003), and military drama Annapolis (2006) between two Spider-Man sequels (2004 and 2007). James’ career has shown no signs of slowing down since his final Spider-Man appearance with the actor receiving high acclaim for his performances in In The Valley Of Elah (2007), and Milk (2008), before returning to his comedy roots and reuniting with producer Judd Apatow for Pineapple Express (2008). In 2009 James made an unusual choice for such a high profile actor by returning to television in a recurring role on the daytime soap opera General Hospital.

James Franco in 127 Hours

127 HOURS AND BEYOND

Despite his involvement in the Spider-Man series, James’ most high-profile role to date came in 2011 when he was cast as the American climber Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle’s acclaimed 127 Hours. Based on Ralston’s own experience of being trapped alone in a canyon for the titular amount of time – eventually resorting to amputating his own forearm with a blunt pen knife to survive, James won rave reviews for his performance and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor at the 83rd Academy Awards, which he co-hosted with actress Anne Hathaway. He has since made appearances in the superhero thriller The Green Hornet (2011), the comedy Your Highness (2011) alongside Natalie Portman, and will next be seen in the Planet of the Apes prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).

PERSONAL INTERESTS AND PRIVATE LIFE

James’ long-standing interest in the arts has encouraged the actor to return to higher education; studying literature and film at NYU and Columbia University in 2008, before enrolling at Yale to pursue a Ph.D in English. He has also published a collection of short stories based in his hometown, simply titled Palo Alto, and has had his paintings exhibited at the Glu Gallery in Los Angeles and at Peres Projects in Berlin. His passion for film has also seen the actor appear behind the camera as well as in front of it; directing numerous shorts and the feature length productions Fool’s Gold (2005), The Ape (2005), and Good Time Max (2007). James frequently volunteers for the Art of Elysium charity to help children with serious medical conditions, and is often involved with campaigns to better educate youths in regards to literature. James has previously had relationships with actresses Marla Sokoloff and Ahna O’Reilly whom he had dated for 6 years. He is currently represented by United Talent Agency.

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American Actor Zac Efron

London Academy of Media Film TV

CHILDHOOD

Zac Efron as “Troy Bolton” in High School Musical

Zachary or “Zac” Efron as he is more commonly known to fans, is an American actor, singer and dancer who was born on October 18, 1987, in San Luis Obispo, California, later moving to Arroyo Grande, California. Both his mother, Starla Baskett and father, David Efron worked at a power plant and openly encouraged Zac to begin acting when he was eleven years old. Zac describes his childhood as being ‘normal’ and ‘middle class.’ He graduated from Arroyo Grande High School in 2006 and when asked about his schooling he described himself as the class clown. During his school years he performed in several shows including Gypsy and Peter Pan. It was from these plays that his drama teacher recommended him to an agent in Los Angeles. He was later signed by the Creative Artists Agency. He also applied and was accepted into the University Of Southern California, but he deferred his place in order to pursue film projects.

CAREER

Efron began his career appearing in guest roles on television shows including Firefly, ER and The Guardian. His first recurring role was as ‘Cameron Bale’ in the now-cancelled Warner Brothers series Summerland, starring opposite Jesse McCartney. Since then, he has had many guest roles on shows such as CSI: Miami, NCIS, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Replacements. In 2003, Efron starred in the movie Miracle Run in which he played Steve Morgan, one of two autistic twins. Following his performance he was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a TV Movie, Mini-series or Special. Efron also played horse-loving Patrick McCardle in The Derby Stallion in 2005.

It was in 2006 however, that Efron’s career really took off when he starred in the lead role as popular student, Troy Bolton in the Disney Channel original movie, High School Musical. This film led to Efron gaining massive recognition among teenage audiences for acting and singing, despite the fact that his singing voice was overdubbed. In January of 2006, he rated as high as number four on the IMDBPro’s STARMeter. He also later won a Teen Choice Award for Breakout Star and for the TV Choice Chemistry Categories (shared with Vanessa Hudgens).

In 2007 Efron starred in a music video for Vanessa Hudgens’s new single “Say OK”, in which he played her love interest. Zac also starred as Link Larkin in the remake of the film version of Hairspray, in which Efron performed all of his own vocals. He also gained fifteen pounds and cut and dyed his hair.

Following the success of High School Musical, Efron reprised his role of Troy Bolton in High School Musical 2, which was released in August 2007 and in High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which was released in October 2008. His next role was in 2009 in 17 Again alongside Friends star Matthew Perry. Soon after, Efron was cast in the lead role for the film Me and Orson Welles, based on Robert Kaplow’s novel. At the time, Efron was also due to star in musical remake of the film Footloose, but he later pulled out as he said that he “was looking for a new challenge, and this was another musical.”

In 2009, Efron participated in a short video called “Zac Efron’s Pool Party.” He also hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live. Most recently, in 2010, Efron starred in a series of advertisements, alongside Kristen Bell and Sean Combs, promoting the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.

Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens

His movie Charlie St. Cloud was also released in July 2010, in which he played the title character.

PERSONAL LIFE

In 2007 Efron was named as one of People magazine’s 100 most beautiful people and in 2008 he was placed as number 92 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 after having an estimated earning of $5.8 million from June 2007 to June 2008. It was estimated that as of April 2009, his personal wealth was around $10 million. Efron’s dating life is somewhat unclear as People magazine reported that Efron and High School Musical co-star Vanessa Hudgens began dating in 2005 while filming the Disney hit. However in 2010, after the couple dubbed ‘Zanessa’ split, US magazine said that the pair did not become an official couple until two years later in 2007.

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American actor Robert Downey Jr

Robert Downey Jr

London Academy of Media Film TV

EARLY LIFE

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.

BRANCHING OUT

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.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

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.

Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man 2

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.

PERSONAL LIFE

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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American actor Bruce Willis

London Academy of Media Film TV

EARLY LIFE

Bruce Willis

Born Walter Bruce Willis in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, on March 19th 1955, Bruce is the eldest of four children to bank clerk Marlene, and American soldier David Willis. After David was discharged from the military, the Willis family moved back to New Jersey in 1957, where David began working as a welder. As a child, Bruce suffered from a stutter, and was often teased by his classmates during his time at Penns Grove High School. Whilst there, Bruce discovered a talent for acting, and through his performances at his high school drama club, he soon found that he could express himself more clearly eventually losing his stutter.

ACTING DEBUT

Following his graduation and some working-class jobs, Bruce enrolled at Montclair State University to study acting and appeared in class productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Bruce left Montclair before completing his studies and moved to New York to pursue acting on a more professional level, eventually making his theatre debut in an off-Broadway production of Heaven and Earth in 1977, before earning minor film roles in The First Deadly Sin (1980), and The Verdict (1982). He moved to Los Angeles shortly after and quickly won a guest appearance on Miami Vice in 1984 before he found his breakthrough role on hit sitcom Moonlighting. He appeared in 54 episodes of the series from 1985-1989 and won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his work. He made his leading man debut in 1987s Blind Date, however his most iconic role came in 1988 when he was cast as John McClane in Die Hard.

DIE HARD AND BEYOND

Die Hard was an unexpected box office hit and transformed Bruce into a film star in the process. It was nominated for 4 Oscars and spawned 3 sequels; in 1990, 1995 and 2007 respectively. He found another franchise in family comedy series Look Who’s Talking (1989), voicing John Travolta and Kirstie Allie’s wisecracking newborn son for 2 films, and supplemented his appearances as McClane with further performances building on his tough-guy screen persona including; The Last Boy Scout (1991), Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), The Fifth Element (1997), Armageddon (1998) and Sin City (2005). Bruce has also featured in his fair share of box office flops; with early roles in Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Hudson Hawk (1991), North (1994) and Color of Night (1994) threatening to derail his rise to stardom. He has continued to challenge himself as an actor throughout his career, and has frequently played against type to great critical acclaim with his performances in Twelve Monkeys (1995), and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000) demonstrating his more subtle acting ability. He also won an Emmy award for his guest appearance on several episodes of Friends in 2000, and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. More recently he has struggled to achieve consistent success with his latest features often disappointing at the box office, however appearances in Sylvester Stallone’s 80s action homage The Expendables (2010) and comic-book adaptation Red (2010) have shown he can still bring in an audience.

Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard 4.0

PERSONAL LIFE

In 1991 he co-founded the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain with fellow action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and established his own production company, Cheyenne Enterprises, in 2001. An accomplished musician, Bruce has released two blues albums including The Return of Bruno in 1987, which spawned two successful singles and a HBO special of the same name. Bruce was previously married to actress Demi Moore, with whom he has three daughters; Rumer born 1988, Scout LaRue born 1991, and Talulah Belle born 1995. The couple separated amicably in 2000 after 13 years of marriage but still remain close, with Demi and new husband Ashton Kutcher being guests at Bruce’s wedding to Emma Heming in 2009. Bruce is currently represented by Creative Artists Agency.

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