Often when an actor or actress makes a sudden appearance on the Hollywood stage, they're immediately proclaimed to be an overnight success. The reality is usually the opposite-they have toiled in than...
New Line Cinema via Everett Collection
Last year alone, films like Blue Jasmine, 12 Years a Slave and Philomena were driven by the brilliant transformations of actresses like Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o, and Judi Dench. And as we celebrate Women's History Month (looking forward to more exciting performances from these and other great actresses), let's take a look back at just a few of the many, many life changing performances in some of the best biopics and period pieces from recent years.
Q'orianka Kilcher, The New World
You thought you knew the story of Pocahontas until director Terrence Malick introduced us to a whole new world. Kilcher's performance was so awe-inspring it practically re-told and re-wrote history itself.
Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, Ginnifer Goodwin, Julia Roberts, Mona Lisa Smile
Yes. Pretty much every actress you love is in this movie. Set in the 1950s, this amazing film tells the story of a group of Wellesley students who get their lives shaken up when Julia Roberts shows up as their free-thinking art professor.
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
When Cotillard won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Lead Role for her role as beloved French singer Edith Piaf, nobody in the world cried foul. Because there aren't enough awards in the world for what she did in La Vie en Rose. A stunning, haunting, fitting tribute from one French star to another.
Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer, The Help
Spencer took home the Academy Award in 2012 for her portrayal of Minny Jackson, a black maid working for a particularly cruel white woman in the '60s, and costar Davis was nominated. As far as the clip above, one YouTuber describes it as "The most satisfying scene in cinematic history." We're inclined to agree.
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn? Damn near flawless.
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth
But Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth? EVERYTHING!
Angela Bassett, What's Love Got to Do with It
No offense to Tina Turner, but Angela Bassett was the best Tina Turner of all time.
Laura Linney, Kinsey
It may have been Liam Neeson's flick, but Linney played the wife of the famed scientist and, for many of us, absolutely stole the show.
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
If you've somehow managed to go through life not being in love with Michelle Williams, then you clearly have not seen My Week with Marilyn. Do yourself a favor and make it happen. NOW!
Jennifer Lopez, Selena
If you can make it through J Lo's performance of Selena Quintanilla's life and work without crying, you are a martian robot lacking the full understanding of Selena Quintanilla.
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Granted there are other Kate Winslet movies to choose from. But when you really get down to it... no. No, there aren't.
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The 21 year old, who portrayed Native American legend Pocahontas in 2005 movie The New World, was arrested in Washington, D.C. last year (Jun10) after she chained herself to the White House perimeter fence to protest a state visit by Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who had announced plans to sell large areas of indigenous land to oil companies and other foreign investors.
Kilcher's father is a Peruvian Indian.
Her mother Saskia was also arrested after she poured black paint over her daughter as part of the protest. She was hit with a charge of defacing government property.
However, prosecutors have agreed to drop the counts against mother and daughter after learning they had completed the terms of their community service.
Kilcher, who is related to singer/songwriter Jewel, starred opposite Colin Farrell in The New World.
Q'orianka Kilcher, 20, chained herself to the White House perimeter fence on Tuesday (01Jun10) to protest a state visit by Peru's President Alan Garcia, who has announced plans to sell large areas of indigenous land to oil companies and other foreign investors.
Kilcher's father is a Peruvian Indian.
Reports suggest the actress' mother was also involved in the protest; she covered her daughter in black paint.
The mother has been charged with defacing government property.
Kilcher was charged with disorderly conduct and is expected to appear in the city's Superior Court on Wednesday (02Jun10).
A fresh update on the Pocahontas legend. Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) arrives in disgrace on the shores of the New World but he is pardoned and soon rises to lead the English settlers of what will eventually be Jamestown Virginia. Sent to trade with a local chief Powhatan he falls in love with his daughter Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher). He follows his duty rather than his heart and returns to Jamestown whose starving citizens would not have survived the harsh winter without Pocahontas’s help. Powhatan (Wes Studi) mounts an attack to force the settlers to leave but Pocahontas warns Smith leading to her banishment and her new life with the Europeans. Eventually Smith is called away to mount his own expeditions leaving Pocahontas behind with a heavy heart. She finds a new suitor a gentleman farmer who wants to marry her but she still pines for Smith. Her fame spreads far beyond the New World back to England where she is summoned to meet the king and queen. Farrell is finally delivering on his early promise momentarily setting aside noisy action films to work with a world-class director and reminding us just how subtle of an actor he can be. The amazing chemistry between Farrell and newcomer Kilcher puts nearly every other movie pairing this year to shame. Kilcher who had one screen credit to her name before this was only 14 during filming quite close to Pocahontas’ believed age of 12 or 13. Before you reach for that picket sign please note that while the romance is incredibly sensual as is the whole film nothing is shown other than longing looks and playful platonic embraces. As Pocahontas Kilcher radiates beauty and innocence and it’s easy to see why John Smith would be mesmerized by her. After Smith has left her scenes of grief are heartfelt and her later solemnity is remarkable for someone so young. I had no idea of her real age until I looked over the production notes. Christian Bale who only shows up in the last third of the film is wonderfully restrained and melancholy as the widower who woos her after her own loss. Terrence Malick has always been a very sensual director one who can capture nature so well that you feel you are in the film not just watching it. But his previous films such as The Thin Red Line often have a way of losing focus of missing the forest for the trees of throwing out the plot for yet another beautiful but pointless shot of the landscape. Here his narrative is strong enough that we aren’t impatient when the camera lingers on lush forests or a lovers’ embrace. He’s made the love triangle the backbone of the film and you don’t miss the larger picture here at all. The film is not only achingly beautiful but deeply felt. His sympathies are clearly with the “naturals ” as the Europeans call the Native Americans; it’s from their perspective that we first see the tall ships arrive. The Englishmen part from Smith for the most part are dirty cruel and petty and the less time the film spends with them the better. What Malick has made is most definitely still an art film with occasionally abstract or non-linear editing choices but one that is never just art for art’s sake.
At the age of 14, was cast as the legendary Pocahontas in Terrence Malick's "The New World" opposite Colin Farrell as John Smith
Moved to Los Angeles with family to pursue a music career
Raised in Honolulu
Professional acting debut, playing a wee Who in the town of Whoville in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
Often when an actor or actress makes a sudden appearance on the Hollywood stage, they're immediately proclaimed to be an overnight success. The reality is usually the opposite-they have toiled in thankless parts for many years. But for actress Q'Orianka (kor-e-ahn-ka) Kilcher, her sudden rise indeed occurred virtually overnight.
With only one small role in a major motion picture under her belt, Kilcher was unexpectedly cast in the lead role of legendary Native American princess, Pocahontas, in Terrence Malick's ambitious "New World" (2005). After a casting call that used 13 casting directors worldwide auditioning over 800 actresses, Kilcher, who was right under the noses in Los Angeles, eventually got the part. Though wary of her young age-she was only 14 at the time of auditions-the filmmakers were impressed with Kilcher's maturity and discipline atop her considerable skills-qualities that will have assured the actress a considerable future in Hollywood.
Part Quechua/Hunchipaire Indian and part Swiss, Kilcher was born in Germany and raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. She moved to the states with her mom and two older brothers when she was about five. Kilcher caught the acting bug around the same age-she sat in on her mom's acting classes and quickly fell in love with memorizing everyone's lines. She also was interested in singing, and even competed on the Ed McMahon version of "Star Search" (Syndicated, 1983-1995) but did not score a victory.
Kilcher then began singing alongside other street performers on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica until the family's music and sound equipment was stolen from their van. The Los Angeles Times ran a front page story that attracted the attention of an agent at William Morris, who in turn offered to help the 9-year-old get auditions for films. A year later, Kilcher landed her first feature role in the hyperkinetic "Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000), Ron Howard's leaden attempt to channel Terry Gilliam, minus the humor and charm. Her role as a Little Choir Member went virtually unnoticed.
Following her brief big screen debut, Kilcher continued to go on auditions, mainly for older characters-a daunting challenge because the competition were usually older actresses vying for a younger part. She auditioned for Steven Spielberg's miniseries, "Into the West" (TNT, 2005), but failed to get the part. The casting director saw Kilcher's headshot on a table and thought she looked like an Indian Julia Roberts. Kilcher was suggested for Malick's upcoming epic, "The New World." After a grueling string of 15-20 auditions, Kilcher landed the part that changed her life and made her an overnight sensation. Her performance as the famed Native American princess who falls in love with British explorer John Smith (Colin Farrell) after saving him from execution earned the young actress critical kudos and the bright glare of the spotlight. And much like her stunning performance, Kilcher handled the adulation will grace, skill and gravitas. On the heels of her success, she began entertaining numerous offers and even expressed interest in action films because she was studying wushu kung fu.
Musicians Institute of Hollywood
A descendant from South American Huachipaeri and Quechua tribes
Name translates to "golden eagle" in Quechua
"He was always watching out for me. Since I was little, I was a perfectionist, and Colin taught me acting wasn't about being perfect . An actor should never take themselves too seriously. It took a burden off my shoulders." Still, she says, playing Pocahontas was an emotional roller coaster for her. "I was so lost," she says. "I would go from totally distraught to bouncing around the woods very happy. Luckily, Colin was there to guide me."---Kilcher, on working with Colin Farrell to Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2005.
Kilcher was arrested at the White House on June 1, 2010, for tying herself to a fence while her mother Saskia poured a black substance over her body. Both women reportedly told officials they were objecting to an upcoming visit from Alan Garcia, president of Peru. She was charged with disorderly conduct, her mother with defacing government property, and ordered to appear in Washington, D.C., Superior Court on June 9.