Movies > Actresses, Actors, Roles
The Dark Knight
Guinness, right, with his stand-in
On the set of classic Ealing comedy The Ladykillers - in
The much-loved British caper
starring Alec Guinness is being
reissued, 65 years on,
fully restored from the original negative.
It was shot at Ealing Studios and around King’s Cross in
where photographers captured the stars relaxing on set
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film actor UK / USA
character actor UK / USA
child actress USA
his / her screen debut
cast as a N
be cast as
the romcom heart-throb UK
agent > Sue Mengers
who represented stars
like Barbra Streisand
and Steve McQueen
and helped shape Hollywood’s
vibrant revival in the 1970s
before suddenly retiring
to become an interested observer
and party hostess
to the changing film industry
Screen Actors Guild
the Actor's Studio
Hollywood glamour USA
a sledgehammer performance as N
USA > Hollywood actor
Hollywood star USA
Hollywood's golden age stars
child movie star /
pornographic film star / porn star
character role USA
in the lead role
as a N
Shake Hands With The Devil (1959),
James Cagney as an IRA man
USA > 1950 > Billy Wilder's Sunset boulevard
movie legend UK
a melodrama featuring
method acting / the Method
In his new book,
How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act,
Butler traces the history of the Method.
It springs from "the system,"
a series of techniques
created in the early 1900s
by the Russian director
which were then adapted in the U.S.
by the Group Theatre
and The Actors Studio.
of the Apes' Actors Get Movement Training
Video The New York Times 4 May 2014
stunt man / stuntman
/makeup artist USA
Richard Emerson Smith USA 1922-2014
from famous actors’ faces,
and the beautiful hideous and
transformed a girl
into a particularly possessed tween
— all while working
as one of film and television’s
most original and accomplished
USA > Hollywood /
USA > Hollywood
USA > the Hollywood
Production Code / Hays Code
USA > the House
on Un-American Activities / McCarthy era 1940s-1950s
UK / USA
USA > the Hollywood 10
/ the Hollywood blacklist 1947-1960
Just how many
were on that list
is now a matter for discussion.
At its end
there were estimated
to be still 150 people on a list
that was said to be held
in every producer's office
But back in
2,000 names appeared
in a publication
called Red Channels.
"Once in it,"
Once on the list, Larry Adler told me,
"you were finished."
The Marx Brothers
Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans
bad guys / baddies
Basil Gogos, Who
Painted Monsters With Love, Dies at 88
penetrating portraits of Dracula,
the Wolf Man and
the Phantom of the Opera,
with notable compassion.
SEPT. 26, 2017
USA > superheroes > Spider-Man
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Arts > Film / Movies >
Actresses, Actors, Roles
Join Actors in Hybrids
January 9, 2007
The New York Times
By SHARON WAXMAN
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 — James Cameron, the director whose “Titanic” set a
record for ticket sales around the world, will join 20th Century Fox in tackling
a similarly ambitious and costly film, “Avatar,” which will test new
technologies on a scale unseen before in Hollywood, the studio and the filmmaker
said on Monday.
The film, with a budget of about $200 million, is an original science fiction
story that will be shown in 3D even in conventional theaters. The plot pits a
human army against an alien army on a distant planet, bringing live actors and
digital technology together to make a large cast of virtual creatures who convey
emotion as authentically as humans.
Earlier movies like “The Lord of the Rings” series did this on a limited scale,
as in the digitally designed character Gollum, whose performance came from the
actor Andy Serkis, while others like “The Polar Express” have used live actors
to drive animated images — so-called motion capture technology.
But none has gone as far as “Avatar” to create an entirely photorealistic world,
complete with virtual characters, on the expected scale of the new film, Mr.
Cameron said in a telephone interview.
“This film is a true hybrid — a full live-action shoot, with CG characters in CG
and live environments,” said Mr. Cameron, referring to computer-generated
imagery. “Ideally, at the end of the of day, the audience has no idea which
they’re looking at.”
Jim Gianopulos, a co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said that he expected
theaters to update their facilities to accommodate the 3D demands of the film.
“This will launch an entire new way of seeing and exhibiting movies,” he said.
“Jim’s not just a filmmaker,” Mr. Gianopulos added, referring to Mr. Cameron.
“Every one of his films have pushed the envelope in its aesthetic and in its
The making of “Titanic,” Mr. Cameron’s last full-blown Hollywood feature, was
the stuff of movie legend. Released in 1997, the film went far over its planned
cost to become the most expensive production that had then been made, creating
stunning visual effects with a combination of live action and computer graphics.
But it also went on to become a historic success, taking in a record- breaking
$1.8 billion at the worldwide box office and winning 11 Oscars, including the
award for best picture.
Mr. Cameron said he had taken care to avoid the problems he encountered on that,
his last gargantuan production, and was already four months into shooting some
scenes by the time Fox gave final approval to the project on Monday. The shoot
has been largely secret, in a building in the Playa Vista section of Los
“I’ve looked long and hard at ‘Titanic,’ and other effects-related things I’ve
done, where they’ve drifted budgetwise,” he said. “This has been designed from
the ground up to avoid those pitfalls. Will we have other pitfalls? Yes,
Mr. Cameron has already devised revolutionary methods to shoot the film, and
expects to create still more methods to bring to life the vision of a completely
photo-realistic alien world.
For its aliens, “Avatar” will present characters designed on the computer, but
played by human actors. Their bodies will be filmed using the latest evolution
of motion-capture technology — markers placed on the actor and tracked by a
camera — while the facial expressions will be tracked by tiny cameras on
headsets that will record their performances to insert them into a virtual
The most important innovation thus far has been a camera, designed by Mr.
Cameron and his computer experts, that allows the director to observe the
performances of the actors-as-aliens, in the film’s virtual environment, as it
“It’s like a big, powerful game engine,” he explained. “If I want to fly through
space, or change my perspective, I can. I can turn the whole scene into a living
miniature and go through it on a 50 to 1 scale. It’s pretty exciting.”
Sam Worthington, a young Australian actor, has been named to play the lead, a
paralyzed former marine 150 years in the future, who undergoes an experiment to
exist as an avatar, another version of himself. The avatar is not paralyzed, but
is an alien: 10 feet tall, and blue. Zoe Saldana, another relative unknown, has
been chosen as the love interest.
“We could do it with make-up, in a ‘Star Trek’ manner — we could put rubber on
his face — but I wasn’t interested in doing it that way,” Mr. Cameron said.
“With the new tools, we can create a humanoid character that is anything we
imagine it to be — beautiful, elegant, graceful, powerful , evocative of us, but
still with an emotional connection.”
Mr. Cameron is widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s foremost innovators, and he
has been waiting to make the film, which he wrote more than a decade ago, while
technology catches up to his vision. He began experimenting with these new
filming techniques about 18 months ago, he said.
But he disputed the notion that the galloping pace of filmmaking technology has
threatened the traditional role of actors or the emotional grip of a good story.
“There’s this sense of bifurcation, that really true artistic, cutting-edge
filmmakers make these indie pictures, and that CG films are these clanking
machines,” he observed. “I’ve tried to fight to inhabit both spaces. There’s a
way to take all these technical tools and have them come from a place where the
artist is still running the film. It’s not easy.”
While recognizing that it is was an expensive project, Mr. Gianopulos said that
something like “Avatar” was precisely what the theatrical movie business needed
in a time of stiff competition from video games and lavish home entertainment
“What audiences are looking for, especially in the theater, is a unique
experience,” said Mr. Gianopulos, whose studio also distributed the “Star Wars”
series by George Lucas, though it does not own those films. It will fully own
He added: “There is nothing as unique as what this film will be, as spectacle,
as a presentation of a completely original world, in its presentation and its
technology.” He said he expected the movie to become a series, and the actors
were signed up to accommodate sequels.
The live-action shoot with actors will begin in April, with major effects being
done by Weta, the filmmaker Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based effects company,
which created the effects for his “Lord of the Rings.” The film is scheduled for
release in summer 2009.
Computers Join Actors in
Hybrids On Screen,
Emoting by Ilana Rogel, an actress,
translated into a computer image.
Cyberface: New Technology That Captures the
15 October 2006
In a demonstration reel created by Image Metrics
to show off
its filmmaking technology,
Rodney Charles, an actor,
gives life to an avatar named Samburu Warrior.
Cyberface: New Technology That Captures the
15 October 2006
That Captures the Soul
October 15, 2006
The New York Times
By SHARON WAXMAN
SANTA MONICA, Calif.
THERE’S nothing particularly remarkable about
the near-empty offices of Image Metrics in downtown Santa Monica, loft-style
cubicles with a dartboard at the end of the hallway. A few polite British
executives tiptoe about, quietly demonstrating the company’s new technology.
What’s up on-screen in the conference room, however, immediately focuses the
mind. In one corner of the monitor, an actress is projecting a series of
emotions — ecstasy, confusion, relief, boredom, sadness — while in the center of
the screen, a computer-drawn woman is mirroring those same emotions.
It’s not just that the virtual woman looks happy when the actress looks happy or
relieved when the actress looks relieved. It’s that the virtual woman actually
seems to have adopted the actress’s personality, resembling her in ways that go
beyond pursed lips or knitted brow. The avatar seems to possess something more
subtle, more ineffable, something that seems to go beneath the skin. And it’s
more than a little bit creepy.
“I like to call it soul transference,” said Andy Wood, the chairman of Image
Metrics, who is not shy about proclaiming his company’s potential. “The model
has the actress’s soul. It shows through.”
You look and you wonder: Is it the eyes? Is it the wrinkles around the eyes? Or
is it the tiny movements around the mouth? Something. Whatever it is, it could
usher in radical change in the making of entertainment. A tool to reinvigorate
the movies. Or the path to a Franken-movie monster.
The Image Metrics software lets a computer map an actor’s performance onto any
character virtual or human, living or dead.
Its creators say it goes way beyond standard hand-drawn computer graphics, which
require staggering amounts of time and money. It even goes beyond “motion
capture,” the technique that animated Tom Hanks’s 2004 film “The Polar Express,”
which is strong on body movement but not on eyes, the inner part of the lips and
the tongue, some of the most important messengers of human emotion.
“One of our principal tenets is to capture all the movements of the face,” Mr.
Wood said. “You can’t put markers on eyes, and you can’t replicate the human eye
accurately through hand-drawn animation. That’s pretty important.”
Ultimately, though, Image Metrics could even go beyond the need for Tom Hanks —
or any other actor — altogether.
“We can reanimate footage from the past,” said Mr. Wood, a stolid man with a
salesman’s smile. He was hired to introduce Hollywood to the technology, which
the computer scientists who founded the company sometimes have difficulty
“We could put Marilyn Monroe alongside Jack Nicholson, or Jack Black, or Jack
White,” he continued, seated in the conference room where the emoting actress
and her avatar shared the screen. “If we want John Wayne to act alongside
Angelina Jolie, we can do that. We can directly mimic the performance of a human
being on a model. We can create new scenes for old films, or old scenes for new
films. We can have one human being drive another human character.”
To prove the point Mr. Wood brought up on-screen an animated character that he
showed at the Directors Guild of America this past summer. The character, a
simple figure comprising just a few lines drawn in the computer, made the “I
coulda been a contender” speech from “On the Waterfront,” in Marlon Brando’s
voice. (Because Brando didn’t gesture much, the stick figure’s movements were
based on those of a hired actor.) Then he pulled up a video of the musician
Peter Gabriel singing a scat beat alongside a half-dozen animated figures who,
one by one, joined him in precise concert. Finally he brought up a scene from a
Marilyn Monroe movie in which animators replaced the original Marilyn with a
computer-drawn version of her. The image isn’t perfect — or rather, it’s a bit
too perfect for credulity — but it clearly shows the path that lies ahead.
The breakneck pace of technology combined with the epic ambitions of directors
has, up to now, taken movies to places undreamed of in the past: the resinking
of the “Titanic”; war in space between armies of droids; a love story between a
dinosaur-sized ape and a human-sized woman. (Whoops, we had that one before.)
But if Image Metrics can do what it claims, the door may open wider still, to
vast, uncharted territories. To some who make the movies, the possibilities may
seem disturbing; to others, exciting: Why not bring back Sean Connery, circa
1971, as James Bond? Or let George Clooney star in a movie with his aunt,
Rosemary; say, a repurposed “White Christmas” of 1954? Maybe we can have the
actual Truman Capote on-screen, performed by an unseen actor, in the next movie
version of his life.
Projects are already circulating around Hollywood that seek to revive dead
actors, including one that envisions Bruce Lee starring in a new Bruce Lee
Asked what he might do with the new technology, Taylor Hackford, the director of
“Ray” and a dozen other movies, was at first dismissive. “It’s phenomenal, but
its uses are in the area of commercials,” he said. (Image Metrics made a
commercial last winter that revived Fred and Ethel Mertz of “I Love Lucy”
discussing the merits of a Medicare package.) But after a moment’s reflection,
he shifted his view. “If you’re working on ‘The Misfits,’ and Clark Gable died
before the end of the film, you could have used it in that instance,” he
Or what if Warren Beatty, or Robert Redford, wanted to play a younger version of
himself? “If you had Warren or Redford in a great role, and there was a
flashback to a young character” — he mused — yes, that would be a reason to use
it. Perhaps in “The Notebook,” he went on, in which Ryan Gosling played the
young version of James Garner’s character? Mr. Garner could have played both
Still, one thought was holding Mr. Hackford back. “If you want Ethel Barrymore
to give you an incredible, heartfelt and painful performance, that comes from
the soul of the actor,” he said. “It’s not something you can get by animation.”
IMAGE Metrics began in the living room of Gareth Edwards, a shy, baby-faced,
34-year-old biophysicist from Manchester, England. He, Alan Brett and Kevin
Walker, all postdoctoral students from the University of Manchester, were
conducting research into image analysis, a technique first developed to help
computers analyze spinal X-rays. “We were very much scientists looking for the
big problem,” he said. “Big in terms of the problem, and big in terms of the
They decided to start a company, of which Mr. Edwards is the chief technical
officer. He doesn’t work out of his living room anymore; now he works in the
Santa Monica offices. (His colleagues remain in England along with a half-dozen
other computer and physics Ph.D.’s.) But some things remain the same. “Image
analysis is a difficult scientific problem,” he said. “You’re trying to analyze
complex objects: the human spine, or the mapping of the human face. How do you
teach a computer to understand the context of an image when that image is
Many surveillance devices rely on facial recognition software, but it produces a
lot of false positives. Mr. Edwards and his colleagues took a different
approach, one that starts with the generic model of a human head and layers onto
that a mathematical distillation of an individual’s expressions. He compared his
approach to describing a new bicycle. The person who’s listening is likely to
picture the new bicycle based on other bicycles she has already seen.
“It’s model-based computer vision,” Mr. Edwards said. “The idea is, if you know
an object, you can picture it. The key for animation was that realization: that
we needed to build a computer system with the prior concept. The mathematical
structure describes the basic concept of the face and maps the subtle
The first step has been using Image Metrics to allow live actors to animate
virtual characters. Thus Kiefer Sutherland himself has been able to drive the
performance of the animated version of his television character, Jack Bauer, in
the computer game “24,” based on the hit show. Warner Brothers is using Image
Metrics, along with several other companies, to animate a new character in the
forthcoming “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” a monstrous relation of
Hagrid, animated by an actor.
Larry Kasanoff is the producer and director of “Foodfight!,” which will be the
first full-length movie to use Image Metrics technology. Sitting in his Santa
Monica production office, surrounded by plush toys of characters (who will be
played by Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff and Eva Longoria), he talked about the
difference between image analysis and standard computer-generated imagery, or
In a C.G.I. film, he said, “every time someone would say something, banks of
people would have to figure out how the lips move, how the eyes move — and it’s
not even that good.”
“Now we don’t have to spend three years having people meticulously hand-animate
Charlie Sheen’s lines,” he added. “He says, ‘Food fight!’ in real time, live
action, and it’s applied, via Image Metrics technology, to the character.”
So whereas a film like “Cars” cost $120 million and took dozens of animators
five years to make, Mr. Kasanoff says that “Foodfight!,” which has not yet begun
production, will be finished by February.
And movies are just the beginning. “For creating characters that don’t exist,
this is unparalleled at the moment,” said Alex Horton, the animation director
for Rockstar Games, which has been using Image Metrics for two years in
top-selling titles like “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” and “The Warriors.”
Games, he explained, don’t require the level of detail that movies do, but they
demand far more screen time than the average film.
“There’s no taking away the fact that a team of animators can sit and make some
very convincing animation if they want to,” he said. “But I challenge anyone to
do the volumes that I need in the time that I need, at this level of quality,
and to capture the nuance of the voice actor.”
IT sometimes seems that every six months or so another technology comes along
that promises to revolutionize Hollywood and supplant what came before. “Toy
Story” gave C.G.I. characters an early sense of humanity. Great excitement
accompanied Stuart Little and his remarkable fur. Another fanfare erupted over
Gollum, the gnomelike hobbit played by Andy Serkis through computer magic in the
“Lord of the Rings” movies. In recent years the focus has been on motion
capture, for which actors are wired with tiny digital sensors. Lately yet
another system has emerged, called Contour, that tracks actors’ facial and body
movements by coating them with phosphorescent powder.
But Hollywood producers seem to agree that this is something truly different.
“It’s a giant leap from the motion capture technology used today,” said Sam
Falconello, the chief operating officer of Cinergi Productions, which made the
“Terminator” series and is considering using Image Metrics to make “Terminator
4.” “I really believe in this technology. It is scaleable. It makes our effects
budgets go further.”
It’s also far easier on the actors. Instead of being painted with a chemical or
covered in sensors, they need only do what they would ordinarily do: act.
Mr. Kasanoff said that for comedy especially convenience was a central issue.
“Try to get an actor to be funny and relaxed with 900 dots on his face,” he
observed. “Now, when we direct the actors, they don’t even know the camera is
there. They just act.”
Debbie Denise, a senior vice president at Sony Imageworks who tracks new
technology developed both in house and elsewhere for the movie studio, said that
her company’s motion capture technique has advanced to where it can credibly
track subtle facial expressions. It is being used in the current production of
“Beowulf,” a computer-generated version of the ancient tale directed by Robert
Zemeckis, who directed “Polar Express.”
But she agreed that the Image Metrics approach was “very promising.”
“It’s been a challenge for everyone in this field to get away from markers,” she
said. “How can you just videotape somebody? The way they’re doing it is very
As for reanimating former movie stars? “That sounds terrific,” said Chris
deFaria, head of visual effects for Warner Brothers. “I’d love to see it.” But,
he added, “There are real complexities involved with that.”
Undoubtedly so. But at least one former movie star thinks the ideas holds some
promise. Arnold Schwarzenegger, now the governor of California, has conducted
tests with Image Metrics to use his Conan the Barbarian character in political
Cyberface: New Technology That Captures the Soul,
The naked wonder in her face
From the Guardian archive
Thursday November 3, 1960
Roslyn in "The Misfits" is a woman who has had
the harsh upbringing and hard struggle of Marilyn Monroe, and yet like her has
retained a zest for life.
That morning on a Nevada dry lake I had
watched her repeat an emotional outburst ten times. Again and again, at [the
director] John Huston's jovial bidding, "Okay, try it again, honey", she had had
to begin screaming "Murderers" at Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, and Eli
Wallach, jumping in and out of high emotion.
When I met her a few hours later, I expected the drain of the repeated
performances would have depressed her, but that was not the case. She entered
the dimly lit hotel bar and began to relax only when we found a common liking
for dimly lit surroundings.
I remarked on Roslyn's achievement at not being hard-boiled in spite of some
harsh experiences. "Oh," murmured Miss Monroe, "but don't you find all people
who have suffered are like that? They remain nice and sensitive. They do."
Her first teacher had been Michael Chekhov, the great Russian actor, whose last
years were spent in the United States. "Then he died," said Miss Monroe with the
lost air of a little girl.
The heroine of "Please don't kill anything" [a short story by Arthur Miller,
Monroe's husband at the time] is so described. "Now she looked up at him like a
little girl, with that naked wonder in her face even as she was smiling in the
way of a grown woman."
She told with sudden shyness how she had once in class played Cordelia to Mr
Chekhov's Lear: "He gave the greatest performance I have ever seen. It was
Did she want to play Shakespeare on the stage ? Well, she would like to one day.
"In a long, long time I would like to play Lady Macbeth." She paused as if
fearing one might find her wish amusing. Reassured, she added "And it would be
marvellous if Macbeth could be Marlon Brando."
She raced suddenly on her interest overcoming her insecurity: "I have done a few
scenes at the Actors' Studio. I did a French play, adapted it a little to make
it modern. I'll give you a copy if you like."
Not only Shakespearean actress but adapter as well: Miss Monroe obviously
intends to leave that dumb blonde as far behind as she can. The impression she
left, at that moment, was a moving one: a beautiful girl lauded for her good
looks, who belatedly discovered that she had talent as well and was trying to
plumb it to discover how much.
the Guardian archive > November 3, 1960 >
The naked wonder in her face, G,
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McCarthyism anti-Communist witch hunts
Joseph R. McCarthy 1908-1957