British funnywoman Dawn French has branded the death of her longtime friend and colleague Rik Mayall a "wake-up call" and vowed to "live every minute properly" in the aftermath of the tragedy. The Harry Potter star worked with the comedian/actor on a number of projects over the years after landing her big break alongside Mayall on 1980s TV sketch series The Comic Strip Presents...
French admits she was blindsided by Mayall's sudden death on Monday (09Jun14) at the age of 56, and the tragedy has prompted her to re-evaluate her own life.
She tells the BBC, "I'm very sorry for his family's loss particularly... (It was) utterly shocking and (he was) the same age as me. Thirty million minutes. Just that. Hardly anything... I owe him a massive debt of gratitude. I will miss him enormously...
"We made, what, 45 films together... He's the first of our gang to go really... and recently Roger Lloyd-Pack (actor) died so I'm certainly having a bit of a wake-up call and it just reminds me to live every minute properly and to properly inhabit my life as well as I can."
Actors Eric Idle, Chris O'dowd, Russell Brand and David Walliams are among the stars who have paid tribute to beloved British funnyman Rik Mayall, who died on Monday (09Jun14) at the age of 56. The shocking death has rocked the U.K. entertainment industry and tributes have since flooded in for Mayall, who established himself as a stand-up star in comedy troupe The Comic Strip, a group which also featured his college pal and future professional partner Adrian 'Ade' Edmondson and Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
He rose to national fame as one of four students sharing a house in hit sitcom The Young Ones in 1982 and went on to enjoy a slew of iconic roles, including as a mean-spirited politician in The New Statesman and an arrogant military officer in Rowan Atkinson's comedy Blackadder. He also re-teamed with Edmondson to play a pair of hopeless single men in slapstick show Bottom.
Fellow funnyman Walliams was among the first to take to Twitter.com to express his sadness at Mayall's loss, sharing a video clip of his role in Blackadder and writing, "I am heartbroken that my comedy idol growing up Rik Mayall has died. He made me want to be a comedian."
Simon Pegg simply posted YouTube footage of Mayall in The Young Ones with fans, while Brand tweets, "And all the grown-ups will say, 'But why are the kids crying?' And the kids will say, 'Haven't you heard? Rick (sic) is dead' RIP".
Irish actor O'Dowd adds, "Very sad to hear about Rik Mayall's passing. 'Bottom' was a huge part of my youth", and director Edgar Wright posts, "Shocked and saddened that a comedy hero is gone; for those who grew up on The Young Ones, Rik Mayall was one of funniest performers ever."
Monty Python veteran Idle tweets, "Very sad to hear of the passing of Rik Mayall. Far too young. A very funny and talented man", and Blackadder producer and writer John Lloyd tells the BBC, "It's really a dreadful piece of news. He was the most extraordinarily good actor as well as being an amazing stand-up comics. Apart from being great company, he was a great professional."
Meanwhile, his close friend Edmondson has also issued a statement about the years they spent working together, declaring, "They were some of the most carefree, stupid days I ever had and I feel privileged to have shared them with him."
Mayall's cause of death has yet to be determined, but a spokesman for Scotland Yard police reveals paramedics were called to the comedian's house in Barnes, south-west London at 1.20pm local time, when "a man, aged in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene". His passing is not believed to be suspicious.
His death comes 16 years after the comedian was left in a coma for several days in 1998 following a quad bike accident near his home in south-west England. He survived the scare but suffered memory problems as a result of the crash.
In recent years, Mayall had concentrated mainly on voiceover work and TV shorts.
British actor Sir David Jason has paid tribute to his longtime co-star Roger Lloyd-Pack, who died on Wednesday (15Jan14). The 69-year-old actor lost his battle with pancreatic cancer "at home surrounded by his family", according to his agent.
Lloyd-Pack was best known for his long-running stint on hit British sitcom Only Fools And Horses, playing hapless road sweeper Trigger alongside Jason.
The veteran actor has now spoken out after hearing of Lloyd-Pack's death, saying, "I was very saddened to hear of Roger's passing. He was a very quiet, kind and unassuming actor who was a pleasure to work with.
"Although he played the simple soul of Trigger in Only Fools And Horses, he was a very intelligent man and a very fine actor capable of many roles. I shall remember him with fondness and for all the good times we had together."
John Challis, who also starred in the hit series, adds, "I spoke to Roger two days ago. It is very sad and very distressing.
"My thoughts are with his family. He was a remarkable man and he'll be missed. Roger is irreplaceable. It's a very sorry day."
Other stars who have offered tributes include actress Hayley Atwell, funnyman James Corden, and Stephen Fry, who reminisced about Lloyd-Pack in a post on Twitter.com, writing, "Just awoken to terribly sad news that Roger Lloyd-Pack has died. We loved playing with him at the Globe & the Apollo (London theatres). Farewell, old friend."
Lloyd-pack was born into an acting family, with his father Charles Lloyd-Pack a regular in the Hammer Horror movies.
He started his career in The Avengers in 1965 and appeared in a string of stage and TV productions until becoming a household name in his native Britain when Only Fools And Horses debuted in 1981.
He also starred opposite funnywoman Dawn French in another popular comedy show, The Vicar Of Dibley, from 1994 to 2007, but was best known to international audiences as Barty Crouch, Sr. in the Harry Potter film series.
British theatre mogul Andrew Lloyd Webber has finally discovered the cause of his ongoing health battle - medics accidentally cut into a vein during an acupuncture procedure. The Phantom of the Opera writer has been in constant pain for most of the year (13) and has undergone two bouts of surgery and 12 anaesthetic operations in an unsuccessful bid to end his agony.
Doctors have now pinpointed the source of his health issue to a deep acupuncture needling he received from an osteopath at the start of the year to relieve "a bit of tightness" in his thigh.
They suspect a vein was nicked during the procedure, which caused bleeding into his sciatic nerve and led to the constant pain he suffers - and there is no end in sight for Webber, as he is due to undergo more spinal surgery before experts will know if they have any options left to help him.
He tells British magazine Weekend, "The pain has been appalling. At one point I couldn't move or get out of bed or anything. I developed blood clots because I'd been completely inactive. Then they thought - because the pain was so much - I had an infection in my bones so they gave me pills which gave me a tummy infection. It's like a French farce."
It's hard to forget Megan Draper's infamous song and dance number at Don Draper's birthday party during Season 5 of Mad Men. Mrs. Draper got up and surprised Don with a French burlesque-like performance, which left all the men smiling and the people talking about her at the office the next day. But prior to this episode airing, Jessica Pare, who plays Megan Draper, wasn't sure that "Zou Bisou Bisou" would be a hit.
During her first ever late night visit Wednesday night, Pare told Jimmy Fallon that she had to wait seven months after filming "Zou Bisou Bisou" to find out how people would react to it. But once it took off, fans responded to her on the streets. Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis even recognized her. But Pare did have to deal with one embarrassing after-affect: Her mother now tries to copy her Mrs. Draper performance at dinner parties. Yikes!
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The Ocean's Eleven star has teamed up with furniture maker Frank Pollaro for the range, which includes a bed, tables, chairs and a marble bathtub for two.
Pitt tells Architectural Digest magazine, "I've been doodling ideas for buildings and furniture since the early 1990s, when I first discovered Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright. I found Wright in college, when looking for a lazy two-point credit to get out of French. It forever changed my life."
Pollaro reveals the collaboration came about after he saw Pitt's drawings of furniture designs: "I asked him, 'Why don't we make some of this stuff real?' Brad said he thought that could be fun.
"We talk about design, about materials, about craftsmanship, about classicism, about modernism. He has a respect for the masters of design. I think we'll be doing this for a long time."
The unveiling of the items will take place from 13-15 November (12) in New York.
The Vicar of Dibley actress will conduct a U.K. nationwide hunt to find the lead actor for Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jesus Christ Superstar as part of her new role.
French, former Spice Girls star Melanie Chisholm, and Australian actor/singer Jason Donovan have compiled a shortlist of hopefuls and the judges will offer their performing arts wisdom when the live shows are broadcast this summer (12).
However, French is concerned she will use rude language on air - so she's indulging in daily foul-mouthed rants to get it all out of her system.
She tells British newspaper the Daily Mirror, "I'm a notoriously rampant swearer and enjoy expletives enormously. I'm trying to use up all my foul language now so that I am severely depleted when it comes to the live telly."
The theatre impresario is preparing to launch a U.K. show to find a new actor to play Jesus in the reboot of his hit 1970s stage spectacular.
Former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm, who will play Mary Magdalene when the production debuts in September (12), and Aussie singer Jason Donovan have helped compile a shortlist during a rigorous audition process.
Now Harry Potter star French - who portrayed a beloved vicar in hit BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley - has joined the judging line-up for the live shows, which will air in the U.K. over the summer (12).
In a statement, she says, "I'm gagging to find Jesus with the help of the Good Lord. I have actually been searching for him my whole life, and I can't believe that inside a few weeks we are going to find him.
"The fact that he is going to be a Rock God is a massive bonus."
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.