Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

‘Mad Men’s’ Jared Harris Savored Role in Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’

Jared Harris is practically a one-man rep company of late, with his “Mad Men” character, Lane Pryce, his recent turn as Moriarty in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” and his forthcoming role — as Ulysses S. Grant — in Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

“What a great character, what an amazing character,” he says of the Union Army General and 18th President of the United States.  “The number of failures the man endured!  When you consider that when the Civil War broke out, he was a store clerk in his father’s canning business, and then eight years later he was President of the United States, it’s fantastic.  What a great 10-part series on cable that would make,” Harris muses.  As far as Harris is concerned, “He’s been kind of maligned in terms of his military success, even his success as a president.”

Of Grant’s notorious drinking, Harris says, “He liked a tipple.  Apparently he couldn’t handle his liquor.  When there were in lulls in the campaign, he would commandeer a steamboat, go up the river for a day and get absolutely legless, and then come back.  But he was never drunk or under the influence while the enemy was anywhere near.

“One of the things that endeared him to his soldiers was that he lived the life they lived.  They were used to seeing commanding officers with 27 wagons of personal belongings following them.  Grant came with one clean shirt and slept on the ground.”

Harris credits “Mad Men” — and the fact Spielberg is a “Mad Men” watcher — for the fact he landed in Grant’s saddle.  In fact, he gives the 15-Emmy Winning AMC drama (freshly returned for its fifth season) credit for the heat in his career.  Having grown up amid the industry, the 50-year-old son of the late Richard Harris is all too aware of its vicissitudes.  “You’ve got to make hay while the sun shines.  I remember watching Jack Lemmon accept a lifetime achievement award.  He stopped in the middle of his speech, and said, ‘I don’t know if I’m crying because I’m so happy to receive this award, or because I haven’t worked in two years.'”

Peter Shinkoda: Steven Spielberg’s ‘Falling Skies’ a Test of Actors’ Endurance

Peter Shinkoda

Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming summer biggie for the small screen, TNT’s “Falling Skies,” is about as far away from his last  series as one could imagine — but former “The L Word” actor Peter Shinkoda says he’s been having a blast on the alien invasion drama.

“In physical terms, it’s by far the most difficult production I’ve ever been on, demanding all the time.  There’s a lot of running, sprinting and scrambling.  I was hyperventilating at one point.  I wasn’t prepared for some of that action I performed.  I’m not 17 anymore,” Shinkoda says happily.  “I think, physically, everyone is giving 110 per cent.”

Debuting June 19, “Falling Skies” centers on a group of resistance fighters outside Boston — six months after vicious space aliens have taken over the earth.  Noah Wyle stars as the college history professor and father of three sons who finds himself charged with leading a group of survivors.  The series has lots of big budget bells and whistles, from otherworldly explosions to the alien critters themselves.

Executive producer Spielberg did spend time on the Toronto set, according to Shinkoda.  “It might have been nerve-wracking for the director, but for the other 300 people, including the extras on set those days, it was great.”

Certainly, the stresses under which the “Falling Skies” humans find themselves — starvation, deprivation, and constant threat of annihilation — make things like the deficit and Anthony Weiner look not so bad.  Still, will viewers want to share such a post-apocalyptic world week after week?

“I don’t think it’s too dark,” Shinkoda responds.  “The gritty reality is being played, there’s no punches pulled.  It really respects the audience.  But it is very much a story about hope and humanity, and certainly the drive to survive.  Not everyone exhibits commendable behavior.  The situation brings out the best and worst of people,” he says.  However, “My character is actually quite a noble person.”

What Steven Spielberg, Bruce Springsteen and Lou Dobbs Have in Common

Hillary Dobbs

The celebrity sighting will be uber-intense at the Hampton Classic horse show in Bridgehampton, NY at summer’s end – what insiders on the equestrian scene tell us is “the end of summer horsey hurrah!”  Indeed.  The 41st Annual Lake Placid Horse Show this month boasted proud pops including Steven Spielberg, cheering on daughter Destry,  Bruce Springsteen rooting for daughter Jessica, and former CNN anchor-turned-aspiring politico Lou Dobbs out in support of daughter Hillary.

The famous fathers each hung in there for two hot weeks to behold the riding of their serious equestrian offspring, and all are likely to be at the Hampton Classic.  While teens Darcy and Jessica competed in the junior rings, Hillary, who sang the national anthem twice at Lake Placid, competed against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s daughter, Georgina, and a number of Olympic veterans.  Now a member of the United States Equestrian Team’s Samsung Super League, the 22-year-old phenom just became the youngest horse-show rider to win a million dollars on the circuit, when she won the $30,000 Grant Prix at the Vermont Summer Festival, taking the title from an Olympic Gold Medalist, McLain Ward.

THAT’S SPOOKY:  Guess this isn’t your grandma’s CIA anymore.  The formerly clandestine organization is preparing to shoot a recruiting commercial (!) and looking for just the right actors to play agents.  The female should be 27-33, according to casting notices.  Ability to speak French, Russian or an Eastern European language a plus.   She should be in shape and beautiful, with an intelligent, brooding air about her – a vivid presence.  The “prototype is Valerie Plame to Angelina Jolie.”  Yes, it really does say that.  As for the male agent – they’re asking casting forces to “think James Bond” with actors that are in shape, tall, dark and handsome.

ON THE ROAD AT LAST:  With the Aug. 1 start date looming for the long-in-the-works big-screen adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” casting is being wrapped up with the role of Ma Paradise, the aunt of Sal Paradise – Kerouac’s alter-ego in the work, being played by Sam Riley.  They’re looking for an actress who can speak in a French-Canadian dialect to play the working-class woman who’s been through her share of hardship, but loves her son deeply and dearly.  Brazilian director Walter Salles (“Motorcycle Diaries”) has a cast including “Twilight’s” Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Garrett Hedlund with Francis Ford Coppola (who bought rights to the work for $95,000 in 1980) as executive producer.

The famous book has gone through previous abortive attempts to get it to screen, including a planned version by Gus Van Sant that would have leaned heavily on the homo-erotic subtext.  Salles is so intent on his version he reportedly retraced Kerouac’s original route.  The film will be shot in Montreal, Mexico and New Orleans.