Born on June 29, 1977 in London, England, actress Zuleikha Robinson had the unique advantage of being English, Scottish, Indian, Burmese, Iranian and Malaysian, allowing her to play a wide array of et...
In what will surely be the first of many Lost sightings I will cover in the next several months, I found an interesting tidbit on a possible new cast member when the show airs its fifth season in January.
According to EW.com, actress Zuleikha Robinson (pronounced “Zoo-Lika”) is tapped to play Ilana, “a European female who possesses great intelligence but who's also dangerous as all get out. She's alluring and apparently used to getting her own way.”
Now, you might remember this sultry actress in the short-lived Fox series, New Amsterdam, or as a regular on another short-lived show, an X-Files spin-off called The Lone Gunmen.
But all us fans of HBO’s Rome certainly remember the fetching Robinson as the enslaved Gaia, who falls for her boss, Titus Pullo, and feels real bad after she poisons his pregnant wife and takes her place. So much so that she confesses in order for Titus to kill her--which he does. God, I miss that show.
I digress. EW.com reports Robinson 's Lost deal calls for her to start off as a recurring player with an option to become a series regular in season 6.
Hmmm, is Illana in cahoots with Ben? Widmore? Maybe she has a thing with Sayid--and is therefore doomed because all the women he falls in love with end up getting killed.
Apparently I’m not that far off base. EW's Doc Jensen mused that Ilana "sounds exactly like the kind of lethal lady Sayid would fall for. So I’m wondering if the dashing Iraqi is due for a new love interest, yet another lady whose true motivations will be in question."
Intrigued much? Oh, you bet.
What’s in a name? For Mira Nair the director of Monsoon Wedding and Mississippi Masala it’s everything. With her adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s best-selling novel Nair employs the name given to the American-born son of Bengali parents as a metaphor for the clash between cultural heritage and cultural assimilation. As The Namesake reveals Bengali tradition requires a child to possess both a “good name ” for formal purposes and a “pet name ” for use by family and friends. Gogol Ganguli (Kal Penn) doesn’t think too highly of his father’s decision to confer upon him a “pet name” in honor of his favorite author Nikolai Gogol. “Of all the freakin’ Russian writers in the world why did you have to name me after the weirdest? ” he angrily asks his mother (Bollywood sensation Tabu) and father (Irrfan Khan). But Gogol cannot come to understand or appreciate what his name really means to his father—or to his future in his native New York—until he embraces his Indian roots. And that means Gogol must not only go out of his way to learn why his father left India for America but to face the same hardships and heartaches that every man—regardless of their nationality—must face during his life. For years Penn’s tried to make us laugh by shattering Indian stereotypes with such comedies as Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and the Van Wilder films. But The Namesake which marks his debut as a dramatic lead represents an invaluable opportunity for him to paint a more truthful portrait of how first-generation Indian Americans are torn between family traditions and life in their parents’ adopted homeland. After an awkward start in which he almost plays a teenage Gogol as a younger version of that pothead Kumar Penn quickly finds his confidence. He captures the emotional turmoil that his conflicted character endures as reaches for the right balance between his pursuit of the American dream and his acceptance of his Bengali heritage. Penn’s honesty and deep affection for Gogol allows him to emerge as an empathetic figure especially for those born to immigrant parents and have experienced—or are experiencing—what Gogol goes through. As Gogol’s father Ashoke Irrfan Khan is patience personified. Ashoke clearly wants his son to appreciate what it means to be Bengali but Khan never comes across as overbearing or demanding. It’s the relationship between father and son that gives The Namesake its heart and soul. But to discount Tabu’s contribution as Gogol’s mother Ashima would be criminal. Ashima could have been your run-of-the-mill overprotective mother and subservient wife but Tabu blesses her with a quiet strength and resolve that proves invaluable when the family suffers a great loss. As for the other women in Gogol’s life Jacinda Barrett offers little as Gogol’s token WASP girlfriend but Rome’s Zuleikha Robinson crackles with sexuality as Gogol’s adventurous but ultimately unsatisfied wife. To say that Mira Nair was out of her element directing the ill-fated Vanity Fair is unjust. After all Monsoon Wedding was set in contemporary India but it had all the feel and flair of a colorful and lavish 19th-century costume romance. But Nair seems at home in the present rather than in the past possessing more of an affinity for characters who are flawed but fundamentally good as opposed to cold and calculated like in Vanity Fair. Born in India and educated at Harvard University Nair clearly has a greater appreciation than her peers of The Namesake’s exploration of cultural heritage vs. cultural assimilation. That’s evident in the delicate manner in which she presents Gogol’s transformation from a sullen and uninterested teenager to a man willing to accept his family’s past as he plans for his future. She also handles Gogol’s complicated relationships with his family—especially with his father—with clarity purpose and warmth. Unfortunately Nair’s pacing is too slow and too deliberate. It certainly doesn’t help that the death of a major character casts a pall over the rest of The Namesake. This loss should have provided Nair with the impetus to swiftly wrap up the proceedings but she drags things out much longer than necessary and you’re left with the impression that Gogol is being needlessly put through the wringer. Still The Namesake manages to be a thoughtful examination of a man struggling to straddle two different cultures. If only Gogol’s journey of self-discovery wasn’t so long and drawn out.
A movie supposedly based on a true story and definitely custom-made for horse lovers Hidalgo ambles along at a leisurely pace taking a full two hours and 20 minutes to tell the story of a man Frank T. Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen); his horse Hidalgo (T.J.); and their attempt to win the famed 3000-mile "Ocean of Fire" endurance race across the Arabian Desert in the 1890s. (We use the phrase "supposedly" true because although the filmmakers claim the story is meticulously researched certain Arab groups claim no such race ever existed. Certainly Hopkins himself lived but the rest is up for debate. Ah Hollywood can we not have one film this season that doesn't stir up controversy with someone?) At any rate Hopkins' reasons for entering the alleged race are many but mainly he's running from himself. The son of a Native American woman and a white man he's never been able to come to terms with his mixed heritage. Since the Ocean of Fire race has always been exclusively open only to a) men b) Arabs and c) purebred Arabian horses Hopkins' efforts to prove himself--and his mustang--form the movie's underlying theme which is typical Disney fare: It's not about who you are or where you came from; it's all about heart.
With his standout turn as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy Mortensen achieved heartthrob status but the big question everyone's asking about Hidalgo is whether or not he can carry a movie on his own. The answer is a resounding yes. When there's action to be had Mortensen looks like a real pro. He's got the cowboy drawl down pat; shoots a Colt .45 with confidence; delivers sharp one-liners like a kinder gentler Clint Eastwood; and has a great seat on a horse. Even when the movie gets a little slow--and it does a 3000-mile desert race will do that to a movie--Mortensen's onscreen appeal saves the day. There is of course a supporting cast of characters who either help our hero in his quest: Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif) who challenges Hopkins to enter the race but ultimately becomes his friend and the Sheikh's daughter Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson) a rider herself but prohibited from entering because she's a woman. Obstacles of course also abound: There's Lady Anne Davenport (Louise Lombard) who needs her mare to win the race so she can breed her to the Sheikh's Arabian stud El Attal the purest stud of the purest bloodline in the world. She wouldn't mind if Hopkins dropped out of the race--or into her bed.
There's no question that director Joe Johnston's (Jurassic Park III) production of Hidalgo was a massive undertaking: Eight hundred horses plus camels vultures falcons rabbits goats dogs donkeys leopards and buffalo are featured in the film along with a re-creation of a Wild West show the massacre at Wounded Knee a locust swarm and a desert sandstorm. The locations spanned the globe from the Arabian Desert (shot in Morocco) to the sprawling ranchlands of the American West to the New York City docks. All in all it's a well put together visual display and like its star it feels authentic. The dialogue from scribe John Fusco (Young Guns I and II Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron) is engaging if occasionally a little sappy; the relationships (especially between Hopkins and Hidalgo) are meaningful and well presented; and the action scenes are fast-paced and exciting. Trouble is interspersed are somewhat long expanses of time during which too little actually happens which makes the film seem longer than it needed to be.
Born on June 29, 1977 in London, England, actress Zuleikha Robinson had the unique advantage of being English, Scottish, Indian, Burmese, Iranian and Malaysian, allowing her to play a wide array of ethnic characters. She developed a thirst for acting when she was 15, later moving to Los Angeles, CA to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She made her feature debut in Mike Figgis' "Timecode" (2000), an experimental film that employed a four-way split screen to tell concurrent real-time stories centered on the Los Angeles film industry. Robinson made a brief appearance in "Timecode," playing the unfortunate assistant to a temperamental director (Richard Edson) trying to finish his film. She landed her first regular series role on "The Lone Gunmen" (Fox, 2000-01), a short-lived spin-off of "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) that featured the three socially inept hackers Langly (Dean Haglund), Byers (Bruce Harwood) and Frohike (Tom Braidwood). Robinson played the brilliant and beautiful Yves Adele Harlow - an anagram for Lee Harvey Oswald - the chief competition for information leading to investigations of shadowy government and corporate conspiracies.
After the cancellation of "The Lone Gunmen," she revived Yves Adele Harlow for an episode of "The X-Files" during the show's last season. She then landed her first leading feature role with "Hidalgo" (2004), playing the feisty daughter of the crusty, but affable Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif), who falls for an American cowboy (Viggo Mortensen) who is trying to win a 3000-mile horse race across the Arabian desert. Robinson gave a standout performance as Jessica, rebellious daughter of Shylock (Al Pacino), in the rarely filmed adaptation of Shakespeare's problem play, "The Merchant of Venice" (2004). Back on the small screen, she began to firmly establish herself as an intriguing talent with a memorable role as the devious slave barmaid, Gaia, on HBO's breathtaking historical series, "Rome" (2005-07). In the underappreciated feature drama, "The Namesake" (2006), Robinson utilized her Indian ancestry to play the daughter of expatriates who meets a young Americanized man (Kal Penn) alienating his family by dating a white girl (Jacinda Barrett). Switching ethnicities again, she played homicide detective Eva Marquez opposite partner John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster Waldau), a man hundreds of years old and looking for the one woman who can end his immortality, in "New Amsterdam" (Fox, 2007- ).