A distinguished actor, theater director and stage impresario of Russian and German ancestry, Michael Chekhov was the nephew of famous playwright and short story writer Anton Chekhov. He began his care...
Character actor Than Wyenn has died, aged 95. Wyenn passed away on Friday (30Jan15) at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, California.
After studying with iconic acting teachers Lee Strasberg and Michael Chekhov, Wyenn toured across the U.S. with a Shakespearean troupe, and finally moved to Los Angeles in the 1940s to pursue a career in film and TV.
His many movie credits include Imitation of Life, Pete Kelly's Blues, Being There and The Other Side of Midnight.
He also had multiple cameos on the small screen throughout the 1960s and '70s, appearing on shows such as Twilight Zone, Dragnet, Perry Mason, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Hart to Hart.
Wyenn also served as a Jewish humourist and dramatist, a consultant to the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Affairs for 37 years, and founded the Yiddish Kinder Theater.
His acting career wound down in the 1980s, when he put his focus on painting and documenting Jewish life around the world.
If there's one thing we've learned throughout the years, it's that it just isn't Christmas until we've watched a slew of movies putting us in the mood. Nobody puts us in the mood quite like the Brits do. It makes sense, considering the king of the Christmas story, Charles Dickens, is British too. Don't believe us when we say the British do it better? Take a look:
Not the only Dickens adaptations on this list, this musical adaptation has the distinction of toting a Golden Globe. Albert Finney won the statue for his turn as the titular Ebenezor Scrooge in this film that your kids will probably love.
Love Actually (2003)
Every British actor, almost ever, is in this movie: Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Martin Freeman, The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln, and even The Maze Runner's Thomas Brodie-Sangster. The film follows eight different couples as they all work out their love lives during the Christmas season. It's so good that you'll love it without questioning its morality (we're looking at you, Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln). It's simply not the holiday season until you've watched this movie at least once. We recommend weekly viewings.
The Holly and the Ivy (1952)
This underrated classic, named for the traditional British Christmas carol and adapted from the Wynyard Browne play, has more to offer than meets the eye. A clergyman who neglected his children has his issues come to the surface during Christmas. The film poses questions about life and the meaning of the holiday in a way that's notedly part Chekhov and part comedy of manners.
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
We're not really into the idea of 'spirit animals,' but if we had one, it would take the form of Bridget Jones. Though this movie isn't technically a holiday movie, the film's premise is fixed on Bridget's New Years' resolution, so it'll help you gear up for that. Plus, Colin Firth wears an ugly Christmas sweater AND plays Mark Darcy, in a nod to his Mr. Darcy days of Pride and Prejudice (the film is a modern adaptation of the Austen novel). It's hilarious and will be your best friend anytime you feel lonely this holiday season. Trust us.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Santa's clumsy son tries to save one girl's Christmas after realizing his father failed to deliver her gift. Arthur Claus sets off on his mission with his grandfather, a rebellious elf, and a team of reindeer in this funny and enjoyable movie. It's a Golden Globe nominated fresh take on the holiday premise, thanks to its high-tech Santa Claus.
An enormous bag of money falls into the hands of a little boy just days before England converts to the Euro (what?). The Euro part might sound a bit strange, but the Danny Boyle-directed film works on multiple levels. It's enjoyable for kids and adults alike. It'll leave you feeling great about mankind, and that's in the spirit of Christmas after all, isn't it?
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
If your kids didn't love the Albert Finney Dickens adaptation, there's always this version, with Michael Caine playing Scrooge along with The Muppets. Kermit the Frog plays Scrooge's business partner, Bob Cratchit. It may not be the best version of the story, but it'll make you laugh and it'll warm your heart. It's also a great way to introduce kids to the classic Dickens tale!
The Holiday (2006)
The Holiday is the sort of movie that's so good, it's perfectly acceptable to watch all year long. At least, we do. Kate Winslet's performance as a woman with a mean case of unrequited love gives us all the feels. She switches houses with unlucky-in-love Cameron Diaz, and along come Jack Black and Jude Law to sweep the ladies (and the viewers) off their feet. Pour a glass (or a bottle) of wine, and enjoy this movie, whether it's the holiday season or not.
After winning over the hearts of millions by acting like a total jackass as Shane on The Walking Dead, Jon Bernthal has become an in-demand name — even to play parts with an ounce of sympathy.
In the new movie Snitch, Bernthal plays Daniel James, a man getting back on his feet, putting a life of crime behind him in hopes of maintaining a job and providing for his family. Unfortunately, his new boss (The Rock) is looking to break into the drug dealing scene in order to bust members of a cartel and leverage his son, who is facing his own time in the slammer. Given an offer he can't refuse, Daniel returns to the ugly world of smuggling and feels pretty darn horrible about it.
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Blame it on his work as Shane and his general appearance as a man who could beat the crap out of me, er, anybody, it's a surprise to see Bernthal pull off a sympathetic character. His ability to play any part on the spectrum is rooted in his unique backstory: growing up in Washington D.C. and ending up ditching college for Russian acting school.
"I was really into sports. I played sports in high school and in college," says Bernthal. His lifelong extracurricular quickly took a back seat when he discovered the world of dramatic arts. "I met this wonderful acting teacher named Alma Becker. Once I found acting, I really wanted to straighten out my life. She told me about the Moscow Art Theater, a great theater school in Russia. Stanislavski school, Michael Chekhov school, Anton Chekhov school."
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When reflecting on what Russian training taught him, Bernthal dabbles in the poetic. He cites an "unbelievable respect" that allows him to transform into a curmudgeon like Shane or a struggling, blue collar worker like Daniel. He also knows how that sounds: "My brothers would call me an actor douchebag for saying that, but… it prepared me for that. To take [acting] extremely seriously."
To see my entire interview with Bernthal, check out the video below. Snitcharrives in theaters Friday, Feb. 22.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
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Had small part in the play "The Wreck of the 'Good Hope'"
During the period of the Bolshevik Revolution (1918-1919), underwent "spiritual crisis"; began following the teachings of Rudolph Steiner
Opened own acting studio in Moscow; closed for financial reasons in 1921
Cast as the character Frazer in "The Deluge"
Feature film acting debut, "Song of Russia"
Received Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role in Alfred Hitchcock's suspenser, "Spellbound"
Played title role in "Hamlet" with Moscow Art Theatre
Mounted production of Dostoyevsky's "The Possessed" on Broadway
Last film, "Rhapsody"
Formed troupe of "method" actors who spent seven years traveling throughout Europe
Established an acting studio, the Chekhov Theatre School, at Dartington Hall in Devon, England
Joined Konstantin Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theatre
Allowed to immigrate to Germany to work with Max Reinhardt
Appointed as director of the Second Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre
Visited the USA at invitation of Sol Hurok; met Beatrice Straight whom he declared "the face of destiny"
With the advent of WWII, relocated acting studio to Ridgefield, Connecticut
Garnered attention in title role of Gogol's "The Inspector General"
Denounced by the Soviet government as a "mystic" and an "idealist"
A distinguished actor, theater director and stage impresario of Russian and German ancestry, Michael Chekhov was the nephew of famous playwright and short story writer Anton Chekhov. He began his career in his native Russia and was a member of the legendary Moscow Art Theater, but his international acclaim really began to spread when he emigrated to England and set up the Michael Chekhov Theatre and an influential acting school. He later set up another famed acting school in New York and, indeed, his work in theater education may be his most important legacy. Indeed his acting students included the likes of Gregory Peck, Yul Brynner and Beatrice Straight. Nonetheless, the intense, diminutive Chekhov, most typically cast as intelligent, impassioned Middle Europeans, also made his mark as an actor, and in middle age began to work occasionally in films as well.<p> Chekov made his film debut in the very pro-USSR, pre-Cold War romance, "Song of Russia" (1943). With his good speaking voice and accent, he was generally cast as immigrant types, downtrodden "little men" and intellectuals; his role in the wartime drama "In Our Time" (1944) was quite typical. In 1945, Chekov won an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his work as a psychiatrist colleague of Ingrid Bergman's who helps her solve the murder mystery of "Spellbound". His feature work was only occasional and ranged from the routine likes of "Cross My Heart" (1946) and "Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven" (1948) to the good soap opera "Invitation" (1952) to the laughably arty and pretentious "Specter of the Rose" (1946), where Chekhov at least played his over-the-top material to the fullest. His last film role was as a music teacher in the lush and sudsy "Rhapsody" (1954) before his death of a heart attack. Chekhov's film roles were generally modest, but, as with other emigres like Albert Basserman, his work was a testament to the strength of the acting traditions underpinning his early training.
born on April 26, 1897; divorced in 1918; died on March 9, 1980
born on September 9, 1916; died on January 28, 1966
Moscow Art Theatre
Among Chekhov's acting students in Hollywood were Marilyn Monroe, Jack Palance, Anthony Quinn and Akim Tamiroff.
Chekhov and fellow Russian actor-director-coach George Shdanoff were the subjects of the 1999 documentary "From Russia to Hollywood".