The Who guitarist Pete Townshend warned Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair not to court friendships with celebrities ahead of his famous 'Cool Britannia' event in 1997. The U.K.'s current leader David Cameron mimicked Blair's stunt by hosting his own star-studded bash at the Foreign Office in London on Tuesday (01Jul14), welcoming guests including actress Helen Bonham Carter and Townshend's bandmate Roger Daltrey.
However, Townshend, who was not invited to Cameron's event, insists politicians should not seek approval from stars, and reveals he warned Blair against his party plans.
He tells Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "My advice was: 'Don't let f**king Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher come and talk to you, because as soon as things go a little bit difficult - and as soon as they get their tax bill - they'll drop you like a stone.' Which is exactly what happened."
A Downing Street spokesperson said this week's (beg30Jun14) event, which was also attended by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes among others, was held to mark the creative industry's contribution to the economy.
Now that the halfway mark has hit between the dawn of a hopeful 2014 and the inevitable exasperated gasp of relief that another year of harrowing grief is finally over, we're inclined to look back on the past six months of cinematic glory. First, we set our sights to the best performances of the year, both leading and supporting. The thespian achievements that made us laugh, cry, wince (in the good way, not the Adam Levine in Begin Again way), and cheer. Here's a quick list of some of the most impressive performances we've seen so far in 2014.
Fox Searchlight Pictures via Everett Collection
Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest HotelIt would be no surprise to anyone that Ralph Fiennes can act his way around a cerebral drama, and probably no real shock that he can handle himself in a sharp, fast-paced comedy either. But Grand Budapest is even doses of both, and Fiennes never slips up in his delivery of the rigid, obsessive Gustave H. as both a humane hero and a comic wonder.
Gina Piersanti in It Felt Like LoveThe best part of this terrific movie about struggling with your identity in adolescence is its star, Gina Piersanti, who makes the subtleties of her sad story vividly accessible.
Nicolas Cage in JoeSome of the picks on this list aren't precisely because the performances blew us away, but because of how happy we were to see the actors in question turn in something worthwhile. Cage is great in Joe, his first halfway decent movie in quite some time, serving to prove that he's still an actor who deserves critical attention.
Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive Sharing screentime and immaculate chemistry with Tom Hiddleston, who too is wonderful in the picture, Swinton manages an unfathomable energy without detracting from the film's focal point of the duo's romantic partnership. Shining so bright through the dark and dusky sheaths of Only Lovers, Swinton is the best part of what is plausibly the very best movie of 2014.
A24 via Everett Collection
Tom Hardy in LockeIf you liked Locke whatsoever, you'd have to credit that to Hardy's performance. As the only actor onscreen toggling his attentions between a steering wheel, a cell phone, and his own inner demons, the man gets truly theatrical in a way you don't often get to see on the big screen.
Mira Grosin in We Are the Best!One of the youngest individuals on the list is one third of the headlining trio in We Are the Best!, a sweet, fun, earnest film about Swedish schoolgirls reaching for (and just about finding) a new identity in punk rock music. Although each member of the band is a treat, the plucky and acerbic Grosin stands out as a particularly special performer.
Tom Cruise in Edge of TomorrowIn the vein of the Nic Cage/Joe qualification, we chose Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow performance stricly because of how long it's been since we've seen the once beloved and presently bemoaned movie star provide genuine thrills... it's been even longer since he's provided genuine laughter, which he does in no small doses in Edge of Tomorrow. The reason Cruise works so well in the sci-fi picture? He's playing a jackass — the sort of character at which he proved himself a master back in the '80s but has shied away from in recent years. Stick to the jerks, Cruise. Maverick, Charlie Babbitt, Tom "Morrow" Edgerson... you're good at 'em.
Jenny Slate in Obvious ChildThe most impressive part of Slate's turn as the early-life-crisis-stricken Donna in Obvious Child: her stand-up comedy routines are a genuine pleasure to watch (no mean feat for any movie). Slate's fresh turn on the wacky gal we often see in stand-up comedies is bolstered by her agency and palpable identity; this isn't just someone we're forced to see through a hard time, this is a human being who we're truly rooting for. We can give thanks to the script, certainly, but also to the naturally funny and engaging Slate.
Jesse Eisenberg in The DoubleEisenberg gets a rare gift in The Double: a chance to bank on the sort of work that made him famous in the first place, and to try out a brand new bag on the viewing public. The always neurotic performer ups the ante on his nervous shtick as Simon James, but breaks loose with a dickish confidence that tops even Mark Zuckerberg's hubris as James Simon.
Agata Kulesza in IdaThanks to Kulesza, Ida winds up a shockingly charming, funny, and (less surprisingly) very sad film. A look at the post-Holocaust years through the eyes of a long-internally-suffering Jewish woman (Kulesza) and her neice doesn't seem like a ground particularly fertile for anything "upbeat," but the sharp and spry performance of Kulesza makes for a uniquely inviting portrait of a somber, bizarre world.
Ken Watanabe in GodzillaWatanabe delivers what is hands down the weirdest performance in any blockbuster we've seen this year, or plausibly in recent years. The actor channels Jeff Goldblum-level "out there"-ness as a scientist who comes face to face with the titular monster after a lifetime devoted to research on the subject. Most of Watanabe's screentime is spent staring off into nowhere, a choice emblematic of unmistakable lunacy residing in the mind of this obsessed professor. We can feel his pain... but it's pure joy to watch.
Nat Wolff in Palo Alto Likely more recognizable for his supporting turn in The Fault in Our Stars, Wolff is a powerhouse in another ennui-soaked high school drama: Palo Alto, which is far more cynical (and terrific) than the aforementioned feature. Wolff plays a teen succumbing to loneliness, self-loathing, and substance abuse in the nihilistic tornado that is his upper class existence. At once the clown and the beacon of tragedy, Wolff really knocks it out of the park in Gia Coppola's debut.
Tilda Swinton in SnowpiercerThe only actor on this list twice (unless you count Jesse Eisenberg for his dual roles in The Double) is Tilda Swinton, who proves herself as powerful a character actor as she is a leading stoic. In stark contrast to her Only Lovers heroine, Swinton's Snowpiercer character is a wicked, delusional tyrant who would be petrifying were she not so damn hilarious.
Agata Trzebuchowska in IdaYep, there is a second actor from Ida on this list, and she's also named Agata. In fact, the younger of the two stars gives what is indeed the more remarkable performance, playing almost exclusively silent as she drinks in her aunt's life of tragic hedonism from a two-foot distance. The Ida/Anna role might have been little more than a lens for the audience to view the horrors of the Holocaust, but Trzebuchowska's restrained anguish gives the story an intriguing slant. All the pangs of the post World War II world that filter through her come out the other end with a peculiar, insightful flavor.
Daniel Radcliffe in What ifSometimes all it takes for a role to stick with you is laughter. Daniel Radcliffe, who we all love, is destined for a long career in comedy. As the romantic lead of What if, Radcliffe is super-Hugh-Grant levels of dashing, debonair, self-deprecating, and f**king funny. His rapid fire delivery, affable countenance, and complete mastery of the most eclectic wordplay makes his What if turn (as a guy named Wallace, no less) more than worthy of the world's post-Potter love.
Nathan Varnson in Hide Your Smiling FacesFinally, representing one of our favorite movies of the year is Nathan Varnson, a child actor who plays a young boy dealing with the sudden death of a close friend. There are no big, showy moments in Smiling Faces. Everything Varnson showcases is largely internalized; his role is predominantly wordless, in fact. All the more reason why it stands out in our minds as one of the best of the year.
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La Bamba star Lou Diamond Phillips is to make his Australian stage debut in the royal role that helped launch his theatre career almost 20 years ago. The actor will replace Jason Scott Lee in the Melbourne production of The King & I.
A torn calf muscle has forced Lee to withdraw from the show.
Reports suggest Phillips flew in to start rehearsals on Monday (30Jun14), and he'll hit the stage as the King of Siam, opposite Lisa McCune, on 10 July (14).
Phillips made his Broadway debut as The King in 1996, opposite Donna Murphy. Phillips played the role for more than 550 performances and won a Theatre World Award. He was also nominated for both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award.
The actor cannot wait to hit the stage when the show opens, stating, "I am honoured to once again inhabit the role of The King... I have great passion and respect for the role and am especially excited to bring my interpretation to a new continent."
The news comes a day after it was announced Japanese actor Ken Watanabe would be making his Broadway debut in a revival of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical about the real-life relationship between the King of Siam and a British schoolteacher, who he enlists to tutor his wives and children.
Motorhead star Lemmy has credited fellow rocker SLASH with helping him through his recent health crisis. The band axed a European tour last year (13) due to the veteran rocker's health scare, and he subsequently underwent heart surgery. Lemmy was left out of action for months as he recovered, and a planned comeback at the beginning of the year stalled when he fell ill again.
The veteran rocker is now bouncing back with a number of summer gigs with Motorhead, and he has credited former Guns N' Roses star Slash with helping him through the difficult times.
He tells Rolling Stone magazine, "He was at my house more than he's ever been before, encouraging me. He's a really f**king good guy."
Lemmy goes on to insist he is prepared to give up his music career if he finds himself unable to perform properly, adding, "You should deliver. But if I can't deliver, I'm never going to be a figurehead up there and just play for money. I could never do that. I've seen people do it, and it's just frightful. I'm old, you know. In two years I'm 70, which is ridiculous. How did that happen to me?"
Japanese actor Ken Watanabe is set to make his Broadway debut in a revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's The King And I. The Inception star will team up with Broadway favourite Kelli O'Hara in the musical about the relationship between the King of Siam and a British schoolteacher, who he enlists to tutor his wives and children.
The play will be directed by Bartlett Sher and will begin previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York in March, 2015.
The original stage show was adapted in 1951 from Margaret Landon's novel Anna and the King of Siam and featured Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence.
It won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress and Best Featured Actor and spawned a 1956 film, for which Brynner reprised his role as the king and won an Academy Award.
British pop star-turned-actress Suzanne Shaw is set to tie the knot for a second time. The former Hear'Say singer is engaged to businessman Sam Greenfield. The announcement comes two years after she split from DJ Jason King in 2012 after three years of marriage.
She tells Britain's Hello! magazine, "He is everything I've ever wanted in a man. Strong, protective, sensible, intelligent, affectionate, good-looking - he ticks all the boxes. I now understand the term 'my other half'."
The 32 year old has a son, Corey, with British entertainer Darren Day.
Sweden's Prince Carl Philip is engaged to his longtime girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist. The 35-year-old prince, who began dating former model Hellqvist in 2010, announced the news on Friday (27Jun14) as the pair posed for official engagement photos at royal residence Drottningholm Palace.
The couple is planning to wed next summer (15).
Prince Carl Philip, the son of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, is third in line to the Swedish throne behind his older sister Crown Princess Victoria and his niece Princess Estelle.
Rock legends Metallica celebrated their controversial debut at Britain's iconic Glastonbury Festival on Saturday night (28Jun14) by inviting hundreds of fans onstage to watch the performance up close. More than 200 mud-spattered festival-goers - many of them wearing Metallica T-shirts - lined up at the rear of the enormous platform behind Lars Ulrich's drum kit, cheering and dancing throughout the gig.
The choice of headline act proved controversial in the run-up to the event, with many critics arguing a heavy metal band has no place at Glastonbury, but the Enter Sandman hitmakers closed the second day of the festival in style with a high-octane set that thrilled the crowd.
During the show, frontman James Hetfield addressed the controversy over the band's inclusion, telling the crowd, "Metallica is grateful to be invited to such an event called Glastonbury. We're very proud to be here and to be representing, can I say, the heavier sides of music, alright? I know it's all represented here so why not heavy rock, heavy metal, huh? It's about time."
He then dedicated the band's next track, Sad But True, to his fellow heavy rock groups hoping to follow in Metallica's footsteps by performing at the festival in future.
After ending their set with a version of Whiskey In The Jar and their track Seek & Destroy, during which dozens of huge inflatable balls embossed with the band's logo were released into the crowd, Hetfield said, "Thank you. Metallica loves you, Glastonbury. You made us feel so good. Thank you for having us."
Before leaving the stage, Ulrich took the mic to thank Glastonbury boss Michael Eavis and his family for inviting the band to perform, adding, "Metallica f**king loves you and we hope to see you one more f**king time."
Glastonbury closes on Sunday (29Jun14) with performances from acts including Dolly Parton, Ed Sheeran, and Kasabian.
The director of a new Michael Jackson documentary is suing the King of Pop's estate executors amid a dispute over footage rights. Craig Williams' Michael Jackson: The Last Photo Shoot features clips he shot of the late superstar at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York City for Ebony magazine in 2007.
His film also includes interviews with Jackson's friends, photographers and stylists as the superstar prepared for the photo session.
However, Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Michael Jackson estate, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the images of the King of Pop are private.
He says, "The makers of the documentary are attempting to exploit footage and photographs of Michael Jackson, which we believe are owned by his Estate. The documentary contains footage of Michael during private moments that he never agreed could be publicly and commercially exploited without his consent and/or involvement. Michael never authorised or approved the use of this material in the film."
Williams and producers at Noval Williams Films insist they have obtained the rights, and in a complaint filed in New York federal court, they claim the Jackson family was offered the opportunity to purchase the rights to the images in 2011, but passed.
Williams is seeking declaratory relief that his film isn't infringing copyrights.
BBC bosses have fired back at remarks M.I.A. made about their coverage of her performance at the Glastonbury Festival on Friday night (27Jun14), insisting they didn't pull the plug on the provocative hip-hop star because of a T-shirt. The Paper Planes singer hit the West Holts Stage wearing a top emblazoned with the words 'Stop Tamil Deportation', and she claimed her fashion choice prompted BBC bosses to axe their planned online footage of her performance.
Just two songs into her set, after she was informed her performance wasn't streaming live on the web, she told fans, "This is a political announcement, the BBC have banned M.I.A at Glastonbury. It's because of these T-shirts that say Stop Tamil Deportation.
"But we don't give a f**k and you know why? We are going to do the best f**king show tonight and it ain't gonna be on TV. I'm here, you're here and that's all we f**king care about. Hashtag freedom motherf**ker."
However, BBC chiefs informed staff onsite at the festival that M.I.A. had got her facts wrong.
BBC 6 DJ Stuart Maconie, who was broadcasting live from the festival, tweeted, "Don't know where M.I.A gets her info from but we fully intend to broadcast some of her set. And we're streaming it."