John Hurt (1940-2017)

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“I.AM.NOT.AN.ANIMAL!”

“I.AM.A.HUMAN.BEING!”

 

As of this writing, I have still yet to see The Elephant Man (1980), but even so I know the quote above. That is true power, when you know a quote from a movie you have not yet seen. It was, of course, delivered by Sir John Hurt, who died yesterday at the age of 77. He had recently announced his battle with cancer.

 

His career spanned over half a century, going back as far as his role as Rich in the Oscar-winning A Man for All Seasons (1966). He would later have roles in films such as 10 Rillington Place (1971), Midnight Express (1978), the animated version of The Lord of the Rings (1978, as the voice of Aragorn), and Alien (1979), with a death scene known to anyone, regardless of if they have seen or even heard of the movie before.

 

These days, he was also known as Mr. Ollivander from the first two (as well as last two) Harry Potter films, who was responsible for giving each witch and wizard his/her specific wand (and remembering every one he ever sold). One of my favorite performances of his was of The War Doctor in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who (titled “The Day of the Doctor”). He was also most recently in last year’s Jackie (with Natalie Portman) as a Priest.

Going back to his immortal line in The Elephant Man (which I will definitely need to watch ASAP), I realize it is also a battle cry for all artists to the human race.

 

We are not animals. We are all human beings.

Debbie Reynolds (1932-2016)

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Reynolds as Kathy Selden in “Singin’ in the Rain”

Barely a day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher, we have now lost Debbie Reynolds at the age of 84, after suffering a stroke.

She starred in movies such as her Oscar Nominated role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and How the West was Won (1962). Still, despite all this and more, she is forever remembered as Kath Selden in Singin’ in the Rain (1952), considered by many (myself included) to be the greatest movie musical ever made.

When I finally discovered Singin’ in the Rain as a young teen movie goer, I admit not to noticing her talent (I was more intrigued by Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor). Still, her singing and dancing at only the age of 19 were quite remarkable. It also did not help that she was ridiculed by the superior Gene Kelly (something he admitted to later) for not knowing all of her dance moves (lucky for her, Fred Astaire chimed in to help her out).

Anytime I watch Singin’ in the Rain (one of my favorite movies ever), I marvel at how much training and time and dedication went into the dance numbers. Reynolds was not even much of a dancer before she made the movie, yet was known to have popped blood vessels after the “Good Morning” number.

In short, she was a warrior.

 

 

 

Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

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“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

So said Carrie Fisher, who passed away today at the age of 60, after recently suffering a heart attack.

As is the case for nearly everyone who saw the films, my childhood memories are filled with her butt kicking Princess Leia from the original Star Wars Trilogy. The character was probably the greatest “Princess” character that was not (at least at the time) owned by Disney (the star would later brag that she was now a Disney Princess when the studios bought the rights from George Lucas.

Fisher was born into show business to parents Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ in the Rain). She would star in other films like The Blues Brothers as the mystery woman set to kill Jake (John Belushi), When Harry Met Sally as Sally’s (Meg Ryan) best friend, and even small parts like that of the therapist in the first Austin Powers film.

Despite these and other roles, it is her role as Leia in the original Star Wars Trilogy, The Force Awakens and the upcoming Episode Eight that she will forever be remembered for.

I like to think that, if we all just yelled “We love you Carrie!”, her response would simply be,…

I know.

Alan Rickman: 1946-2016

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I normally don’t post on passings of celebrities, but after hearing about the passing of actor Alan Rickman at 69, I felt obligated to do so.

The first film I remember seeing him in was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. My first reaction as a kid was “This dude is bad. Like really really bad.” Now that I think of it, it was the first time I knew what it was to witness a villian that you love to hate.

As I grew older, I saw him in what is probably his best role as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, possible the best known terrorist in Cinema History. He was an actor who was so good at playing a villian that it seemed almost second nature to him.

When I first knew of the cast of the Harry Potter films, I was most happy when I found out he was in it. I did not know much of Severus Snape, but I knew Rickman was playing him, and it would be memorable. He was author J.K. Rowling’s personal pick for the role (she even gave Rickman information about the character before the final book’s release), and I still think it is the best casting choice of the whole series.

Through the years, I realized he was a class act, and one of the most well known and respected British thespians alive.

Had I a magic wand, I would be raising it in respect.