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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in Actors on Actors (28)


In Praise of Carey Mulligan in Suffragette

Murtada here, with a lot of love and respect for Carey Mulligan.

There's a scene late in Suffragette when Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) realizes the devastating enormity of the separation from her son. Mulligan’s face, in a second, flickers many emotions, all so overwhelming that you feel this woman’s pain in your gut. Yet she doesn’t overplay or milk the moment for maximum effect. She remains understated.

This is just one of many moments in the film in which Mulligan transcends her movie and reaches her audience with clarity and without exaggeration. Set in London in 1912, Suffragette tells the story of Watts, her education and indoctrination into the suffrage movement. When the film starts, she is working in a laundry, trying to survive a hard existence alongside her husband and young son. A chance encounter introduces her to the suffragettes and she becomes a member of their embattled movement. 

It is through Mulligan that we enter this world. Her character is a composite of many working women who were part of the movement and is built to be the audience surrogate. Her performance is so strong that the plight of these women is not only depicted effectively, but comes alive. I could not control my emotions or my tears. Mulligan’s performance is an emotional marvel and delivered with technical mastery. Her working class English accent is impeccable, her weariness and defeat is visible in her hunched back and heavy walk, her defiance rises to crescendo and is delivered with skillful control of her voice. This is why there are awards for acting.

The film is dividing critics and its reception is unfortunately lukewarm. Some accuse it of being well intentioned but conventional. "Earnest", "formulaic" and "schematic" are words used to describe Suffragette.

But the film derives most of its power from the performance at its center. Mulligan is riding on a wave of acclaim, with co-star Meryl Streep recently praising her:

"I’m in awe of your talent . . . I really am. I’m also in awe of your voice, which is like warm caramel poured over the English language. I applaud your taste in material and how you hold out for stuff. Even when you were young and didn’t have any money, you just did things that mattered. I can’t wait to see what Carey Mulligan will give us next, what new woman she’ll give birth to”.

In her earlier 2015 release Far From the Madding Crowd, Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdeen says "It's my intention to astonish you all". And you do Carey. Always.

Do you think Carey Mulligan in on her way to a second Oscar nomination?


Celebrity and Chill

Groggy this morning. MORE COFFEE. Please to enjoy these celebrities doing their casual things as we get our act together for the week. An exciting new week. One in which your host is not sick. What could it possibly hold? Any requests.

Let's begin with Jessica Chastain reading about Diane Keaton (as one does should)... "bookworm" 

A photo posted by Jessica Chastain (@chastainiac) on Oct 11, 2015 at 11:34am PDT

 Amanda Seyfried, Hugh Jackman, Jared Leto and more after the jump...

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Matt's Mouth Tastes Like Foot. And Other Truths & Lies

For those who aren't on Twitter where I got kind of worked up about Matt Damon's latest foot-in-mouth disease, a quick recap what went down is in order. Before we begin I think it's important to note that I have liked Matt Damon as an actor since School Ties (1992). I still like him as an actor and movie star and The Martian is a lot of fun. Go see it next weekend! What follows is in no way bitching about his work, his fame or even his character (I do not believe he's a homophobe, just that he doesn't quite "get" what he found himself talking about and should probably stop).

Why people (including me) got worked up about what he said after the jump... 

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Clouds of Sils Maria. Or, How To Act Like a Star.

With Clouds of Sils Maria on DVD now, here's Kyle Stevens on actors playing actors.

If you’re a reader of The Film Experience, then you’re probably no stranger to Juliette Binoche, who arguably has more masterpieces to her name than any other actor in cinema history. Binoche became a bona fide French star with André Téchiné’s Rendez-vous in 1985, which was written by the now celebrated director Olivier Assayas. Last year, Binoche asked Assayas to write something for her so that they might again collaborate. He came up with the astounding Clouds of Sils Maria.

Their film follows the great star Maria Enders as she struggles to accept playing Helena in Maloja Snake, a play written by her recently departed friend. The difficulty for Maria is that she first became famous playing the ingénue role, Sigrid, decades earlier, and so, the role of Helena forces her to confront her feelings about aging, feelings compounded by the fact that, within the play, Helena desires and resents Sigrid. To make matters even more baroquely complicated, Helena and Sigrid’s relationship mirrors Maria’s interactions with Val, her personal assistant, coolly played by Kristin Stewart. (Eventually, Chloe Grace-Moretz appears as a third bone-faced brunette, younger still, to play Sigrid.)

Given the laurels recently heaped upon flamboyantly reflexive turns in Blue Jasmine and Black Swan, is it too much to hope that Binoche will leave the red carpet well-worn come awards season—even if the early release and critical attention for Kristen Stewart make that seem unlikely now? [More...]

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Ann Dowd: Quick Notes on Six Roles

The Film Experience is proud to turn today over to the great actress Ann Dowd. Enjoy... 

The cast of "Garden State"

- by Ann Dowd

Nathaniel tells me these are his favorite characters from my filmography and since I've taken over The Film Experience for the day, here are quick notes on each.

"Olivia" in Garden State (2004)
Loved. Zach Braff really had it together- wrote, directed, starred in. He was very clear about what he wanted which is always a pleasure.

"Cookie Kelly" in Freaks and Geeks (2000)
Hysterical. Writers, actors, everybody was talented and young and funny. I love that role - she was delicious and twisted.


"Sister Maureen 'Mo' Brody" in Nothing Sacred (1997)
Sister Maureen was a wonderful role, so well written, a lovely cast. I have two aunts who are Catholic Ursuline sisters so I know something about that world – how educated they are, how generous and caring and complicated they are. The way the role was conceived by Bill Cain reflected the truth about that world and it was a pleasure to work on it. 

"Sandra" in Compliance (2012)
Another beautifully written role. I have tremendous empathy for that character, not having a guidance system of her own. How derailed her life became. Great director Craig Zobel.

"Estabrooks Masters" in Masters of Sex (2013)
Oh my gosh, what I remember most about the first season is just the feeling of hitting that ground running. Michelle Ashford's writing is great. A really terrific cast - Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald. The stories were very strong and I love the character of Estabrooks. She's clear and unfaltering and also able to admit her mistakes, apologize and then move forward. Loved her.


"Patti" in The Leftovers (2014)
We already spoke at length about this role but there was a lot of camarederie on set with Amy, Liv, and Justin. The atmosphere was so surreal -- keep in mind that sometimes we were shooting in the middle of the night in the cul-de-sac somewhere 45 minutes out of the city -- no sense of time or space. On one of the first days of shooting the first A.D. Vebe Borge didn't speak in solidary with the Guilty Remnant. How's that for commitment?


Falling in Love with Acting (and Advice for Young Actors)

The Film Experience is enormously proud to hand the site over to Ann Dowd (The Leftovers, Masters of Sex). She will be guest blogging all day. - Editor.

As Patti on "The Leftovers"

-by Ann Dowd

The awareness, the love story, for me began in high school. Acknowledging it came later. I’m talking about falling in love with acting and committing to the life with all its ups and downs.

You know, you do a play in high school and you think “Wow, this is kind of great.” For me it was playing Adelaide from Guys & Dolls -- it just about did me in with joy. But it never occurred to me, and I’m sure this is true for many others who didn’t grow up in a theater environment, that you could choose to be an actor.  It just wasn’t an option. 

I was in premed for four years in college. But I also took acting classes each year and that's where I found peace and some sense of fufillment. There it was, that feeling again, a deep love. The role that changed my perspective on whether or not I could really be an actress as a life choice was Sonya in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. It was that quiet voice again which said, "I want to live in her life."

It’s a simple thing, from my perspective now years later, about knowing whether you want to do this and whether you can commit for life.  And that’s in this question: 

Can I step into the life of another human being in an open and truthful way without judgment?

There’s a connection that happens when you’re acting that transcends just about anything. When that happens — and it doesn’t always —  but if it’s deep and it happens enough there’s an awareness that you could really live this life with all its ups and downs. So I made the change in senior year of college, auditioned for an acting school, got in, and essentially never looked back. It was very hard, many ups and downs. But there was never a question of “can I do it?” It was that I had to do it. Plain and simple — it was the only thing that made sense to me. 

Returning to Chekhov years later on Broadway in "The Seagull" with Kristin Scott Thomas and company

For Those Starting Out
Many young actors starting out want advice — “how do I get an agent?” is usually the question — and I'm afraid I don't have much advice on that issue.  When I look back now 30 years, when I think of what a young actor needs to be successful in this business, for me it comes down to the following: a fierce energy, a single mindedness, a refusal to consider failure or giving up as an option, and an unshakable belief that you have a rightful place in this work. Youth has that in it's favor. 

And I can offer this: stay deeply connected to your love of acting. Put your head down and keep going, even if there aren’t roles, or if they go well or don’t go well. In the moments when you’re alone, slow it all down. Step away from technology as much as you can, observe and listen to life as it unfolds. Live your life. Work on your relationships. You will need all of those things as actors. You need perspective. If you have personal issues, seek the help you need to get through them — you need an understanding of suffering and pain but you do not need to spend your life doing that to make the work good! 

Attend to your life in other words. Know and believe that it’s going to work out. If you love what you’re going to do and you do the work to get better as an actor,then you’re going to get the support you need.  

I know that sounds naive but I honestly believe it’s true.

Next: The Leftovers



What I Learned From Paul Rudd (& Other Cool People)

At the premiere of Avengers: Age of UltronThe Film Experience welcomes rising actor David Dastmalchian (Ant-Man, Animals, Prisoners) who has taken over the blog for a day! -Editor

-by David Dastmalchian

The following are some rad people that I had the chance to work with or work near or at least stand across the street from – and the cool stuff that I learned while watching them.    I’ve kind of fashioned my entire life that way: honing in on the people who are really good at what they do and, well, trying to copy-cat them.

LESSON: ‘Keep the scene rolling until they yell ‘cut’.  And be nice to everyone. And always carry cash’. 

It’s very intimidating to work on scenes with an actor who can continue to improvise past the text until every single person within a hundred feet is laughing out loud.  I had the opportunity to work with Paul on his upcoming Ant-Man for Marvel Studios directed by Peyton Reed.  Paul had an extreme amount of physical work to do with his preparation, as well as re-writing the project and he was incredibly focused.  He came to work each day prepared to make the most out of the scripted text – while being simultaneously open to improvisation as soon as the director gave him the green light.  It was amazing.  He is an endless well of ideas and he’s also very generous, so he would turn to me sometimes when he was on a riff and toss me a golden line.  I dropped as few as possible.

More Paul and other cool people after the jump...

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