Drawing: Jim Carter in Downton Abbey

Autographed drawing of actor Jim Carter in Downton Abbey

Jim Carter’s portrayal of Charles Carson in the hugely successful and popular British historical drama DOWNTON ABBEY (2010-2015) is one of his most recognisable roles in a long and distinguished screen and stage career that began when he dropped out of his law studies at the University of Sussex fifty plus years ago to join a Brighton fringe theatre group for five quid a week, plus free board and lodgings.

His big stage break came with the National Theatre’s 1982 revival of GUYS AND DOLLS directed by Richard Eyre. At the same time he met his wife-to-be, Imelda Staunton, who was also in the show and they later appeared together in THE WIZARD OF OZ for the Royal Shakespeare Company – Imelda as Dorothy and Jim as the cowardly lion.

His film credits include THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE (1994), RICHARD III (1995), BRASSED OFF (1996) and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998), which won the Outstanding Performance by a Cast Screen Actors Guild Award and the Oscar for Best Picture. On the small screen, Jim has appeared in so many, THE BILL, MIDSOMER MURDERS, ZORRO, CASUALTY, CRANFORD and THE SINGING DETECTIVE to name a few. Created and co-written by Julian Fellowes, DOWNTON ABBEY is based on the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey during the early part of the 20th Century.

Jim played a leading role as Mr Carson, the butler who is In charge of the male staff, the pantry, wine cellar and the dining room. Mr Carson is described as having a ‘fatherly disposition over the other servants’ while making sure that their duties are carried out to his exacting standards. For his portrayal Jim has received four Primetime Emmy nominations and has twice won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. He also reprised the role for the 2019 film version. Jim received the OBE for services to drama last year.

He signed my sketch last month at the Kiln Theatre in North London, where he was hosting a fundraising event with the screening of the 2014 film PRIDE followed by a cast Q&A.

Drawing: Kaitlyn Dever

Autographed drawing of actress Kaitlyn Dever

At 23 years of age, American actress Kaitlyn Dever’s career has already past a decade, with 15 films and ten TV shows on her impressive CV, resulting in eight Award nominations, including a Golden Globe and the BAFTA Rising Star Award. Starting in 2009 with her first notable role as Gwen Thompson, a homeless girl in AN AMERICAN GIRL: CHRISSA STANDS STRONG. Two years later she appeared in the Clint Eastwood-directed J.EDGAR.

Three films in the past two years has cemented her reputation as one to watch, playing Lauren in the biographical drama BEAUTIFUL BOY with Timothee Chalamet in 2018, followed by Dilly Picket in the thriller THEM THAT FOLLOW opposite Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman and Amy Antsler in the coming-of-age comedy BOOKSMART last year. Kaitlyn’s small screen successes include her recurring role as no-nonsense teen Loretta McCready in JUSTIFIED between 2011-2015 and as Tim Allen’s daughter Eve Baxter in LAST MAN STANDING since 2011. Last year she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of sexual assault victim Marie Adler in the Netflix miniseries UNBELIEVABLE.

Kaitlyn signed my sketch at a British Academy event involving the nominees for the Rising Star Award at London’s Savoy Hotel, the day before this year’s BAFTA ceremony in early February.

Drawing: John Williams, Executive Chef at The Ritz London

Autographed drawing of Chef John Williams

As the ever enthusiastic gastronaut I was watching the first episode of the ITV’s mini-series INSIDE THE RITZ HOTEL one lazy Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago. It featured the famous Piccadilly Hotel’s venerable Executive Chief John Williams and the launch of The Ritz’s first ever cookbook, compiled by him and containing its most famous signature recipes, including the Roast Scallops Bergamot and Avocado, the Saddle of Lamb Belle Époque and the Grand Marnier Soufflé. The recipes are said to be ‘simple to the seasonal, to the signature and the sublime.’

I thought he would make a great addition to my collection, drawing this quick sketch, I posted it to him for signing. South Shields-born, on England’s North East coast and the son of a Tyneside fisherman, John’s culinary career began peeling spud’s in his mum’s kitchen. He moved to London at the age of 16 and after working at the Royal Garden, Claridges and The Berkeley Hotels he arrived at The Ritz in 2004 as the Executive Chef. Seen by many as the symbol of high society and luxury it is described as one of the best dining experiences you’ll ever have or in my case ever wish to have.

The fortunate diner is spoiled for choice with The Ritz Restaurant, which was awarded it’s first Michelin Star in 2017, the iconic Palm Court, the legendary Rivoli Bar, six private dining suites not to mention room service. It is the recipient of a Royal Warrant for Banqueting and Catering Services from HRH The Prince of Wales-the first and only Hotel to receive the prestigious accolade.

John himself has been personally recognised with numerous awards, including the Pierre Taittinger International prize, known as the ‘Everest of Gastronomy’ and the Craft Guild of Chefs Award in 2000. In 2005 he was the first British Chef to be conferred with the CMA by the French Government for his contribution to French cuisine. He was made a Member of the British Empire in 2008.

His favourite dish? The lobster with lemon verbena, which has had a few variations over the years. It used to be accompanied by a spiced carrot purée, but now it’s served with a vegetable tagliatelle.

As you can see John kindly signed and returned my drawing.

Drawing: George MacKay

Autographed drawing of actor George MacKay

Since being nominated for BAFTA’s Rising Star Award in 2014, London-born actor George MacKay’s star has certainly been on the rise. He is currently dominating the big screen in one of the best and most decorated pictures of the year, the Sir Sam Mendes directed, co-written ( with Krysty Wilson-Cairns) and produced WW1 epic, 1917. George plays the lead character, Lance Corporal William Schofield, who along with fellow Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission, to cross no man’s land to deliver a warning to the commanding officer of the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment to call of an attack that will jeopardise the lives of 1,600 men, including Tom’s brother.

Sir Sam based the screenplay on a ‘fragment’ of a story, told to him as a child by his grandfather Alfred Mendes, a native of Trinidad, who was a messenger for the British on the Western Front. At its core it is “the story of a messenger, who has a message to carry”, said Sir Sam. George’s ‘messenger’ very rarely leaves the screen, because of the decision to film and edit the picture to appear as one take – actually two takes, split with a blackout at the midpoint when he is knocked unconscious – he is almost continuously on screen for the entire two hours of the film. 1917 was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning three and nine BAFTAs, winning seven including Best Picture.

It’s not the first war film George has starred in. He was Private Tommo Peaceful in the 2012 adaption of Michael Morpurgo’s PRIVATE PEACEFUL and Lutz, the son of a high-ranking SS officer in Nazi Germany in the rite-of-passage war drama WHERE HANDS TOUCH in 2018. In 2013 he won a Scottish BAFTA for his portrayal of Aaron, an ostracised misfit and sole survivor of a strange fishing accident in FOR THOSE IN PERIL. Other prominent roles included playing Viggo Mortensen’s son, Bodevan Cash in CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (2016), earning a Screen Actors Guild nomination as part of the cast. George won the Trophee Chopard last year at the Cannes Film Festival. His next film role is the outlaw Ned Kelly in Justin Kurzel’s TRUE HISTORY OF THE NED KELLY GANG with Russell Crowe, due for release in the UK at the end of February and the US in April.

He has also walked the boards in the West End, most recently as Mick in the Old Vic’s production of Harold Pinter’s THE CARETAKER (2016), opposite Timothy Spall and Daniel Mays.

George signed my sketch for me at the Corinthia Hotel in London as he was leaving to attend the BAFTA Awards earlier this month.

Drawing: Thelma Schoonmaker

Autographed drawing of editor Thelma Schoonmaker

I had the absolute privilege of meeting the legendary editor, Thelma Schoonmaker when she visited London earlier this month for the BAFTA Awards, receiving her eighth nomination for her cutting of Martin Scorsese’s THE IRISHMAN. It’s one of Hollywood’s greatest collaborations, working with Marty for over fifty years, since their first film in WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR, in 1967, after meeting on a six-week film-making course at New York University.

She made an uncredited contribution to TAXI DRIVER (1976) and has edited all his films after that, including RAGING BULL (1980), THE AVIATOR (2004) and THE DEPARTED (2006), winning an Academy Award for each. She is tied with Michael Kahn with the most nominations (8) for Best Editing in the Academy’s history.

Thelma along with Michael, Daniel Mandell and Ralph Dawson are the only people to win the Oscar on three occasions. She won the BAFTA for GOODFELLAS in 1992 and received the Fellowship last year. Asked how a nice lady like her could edit Martin’s violent gangster pictures, Thelma replied, “Ah, but they aren’t violent until I edit them.”

Thelma signed my quick portrait sketch as she was leaving the Corinthia Hotel for the BAFTA Award ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall.

Drawing: Sandy Powell

Autgraphed drawing of costume designer Sandy Powell

It’s BAFTA-Oscar week, and one of the awards’ season favourites is British costume designer extraordinaire Sandy Powell, who once again is nominated for both, for her work on the epic crime drama THE IRISHMAN, continuing her collaboration with Martin Scorsese after previously working on THE AVIATOR and GANGS OF NEW YORK.

Sandy has now received 15 nominations for both prestigious prizes, winning three each. Her Oscars were for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998), THE AVIATOR (2004) and THE YOUNG VICTORIA (2009) and BAFTAs for VELVET GOLDMINE (1998), THE YOUNG VICTORIA (2009) and THE FAVOURITE (2018). She has received dual Oscar noms twice, in 1999 for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and VELVET GOLDMINE and again in 2016 for CINDERELLA and CAROL. On three occasions she has had BAFTA doubles, replicating her Academy success plus last year for THE FAVOURITE and MARY POPPINS RETURNS.

In an interview with the Guardian, when asked who would play her in a biopic, Sandy suggested Eddie Izzard. She was honoured by the London Film Critics’ Circle last week with the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence her career achievements in film at London’s May Fair Hotel, where she signed my sketch.

Drawing: Britt Ekland

Autographed drawing of actress Britt Ekland

Swedish actress and singer Britt Ekland was one of the most photographed celebrities during the 1970’s and 80’s due to her star status and high profile marriage to English actor and comedian Peter Sellers. She featured in numerous films, most notable THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED MINSKY’S directed by William Friedkin, for which she received critical acclaim playing Rachel Elizabeth Schpitendavel, an innocent Amish girl who arrives in New York intent on becoming a dancer but accidental ‘invents’ striptease. Britt has said it is her favourite film.

Her leading role in the 1971 iconic crime caper GET CARTER, opposite Michael Caine established her as a ‘blonde bombshell’, further enhanced when she was cast three years later as a Bond girl, Mary Goodnight, in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, the ninth film in the famous British spy franchise.

Britt was a guest on the BBC Radio 4 show LOOSE ENDS, which was recorded at it’s London studio last Friday, where she signed my portrait sketch.

Drawing: Alex Borstein and the Amstergang

Autographed drawing of Alex Borstein in Alex Borstein and the Amstergang at London's Soho Theatre

I was very happy to catch up with the delightful Alex – short for Alexandrea – Borstein when she popped into London in mid-December last year to do three nights at the Soho Theatre with her musical comedy show ALEX BORSTEIN AND THE AMSTERGANG. Described as a “little music, little comedy and a lot of dirty words” the show included original songs and hilarious versions of some of the classics.

I first encountered Alex with her recurring characters in GILMORE GIRLS, as Doris, harpist Drella and resident stylist and keeper of many a Hollywood secret Miss Celine. She has been the voice of Lois Griffin and many others in the animated comedy FAMILY GUY since 1999, (including writing and producing) winning an Emmy Award from numerous nominations. She also collected a further two Emmys as the irascible and scrappy rookie, ‘one tough cookie’ manager Susie Myerson in THE MARVELOUS MRS MAISEL and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guid noms, winning the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy series this month. The ensemble cast has also collected successive Screen Actors Guild awards for the past two years.

Alex signed my sketch when she arrived at the Soho Theatre on Saturday 14 December.

Drawing: Denzel Washington in Fences

Autographed drawing of actor Denzel Washington in Fences at Broadway's Cort Theatre

This year’s Academy Award nominations were announced on Monday and while Denzel Washington’s name wasn’t included this time he has had his fair share of Oscar success. His nine nominations include two wins for Best Supporting Actor as Private Silas Trip in the American Civil War drama GLORY (1989) and Best Actor for his role as corrupt detective Alonzo Harris in TRAINING DAY (2001).

In fact he has received a career total of 96 Award nominations, winning 39, which also includes three Golden Globes. His sole Tony success was for his performance as Troy Maxson, a former baseball player working as a waste collector and struggling to support his family in the revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play FENCES, which opened at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in April 2010 for a limited 13 week engagement. It received ten Tony nominations, winning three, including Best Revival. In 2016 he starred, directed and produced the film adaption, which earned him Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor, winning the Screen Actors Guild award.

Seven years ago Denzel attended the premiere of FLIGHT at London’s Empire Cinema in Leicester Square in which he played an airline pilot with a drinking problem, and yes, as per usual was Oscar nominated. I managed to get him to sign my FENCES sketch as he walked the red carpet, not an easy feat given his popularity.

Drawing: Kristen Stewart

Autographed drawing of actor Kristen Stewart

American actress and director Kristen Stewart was in London last October, attending the 63rd BFI London Film Festival, where her film, SEBERG, which was released last Friday in the UK, screened, after its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

Directed by Benedict Andrews, the political thriller follows the FBI’s attempts to target and discredit French new-wave star Jean Seberg due to her support for the American Civil Rights movement and her romantic involvement with Black Panther activist Hakim Jamal. In her annual best performance list, TIME magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek placed Kirsten’s performance at number ten.

Kristen gained global recognition for playing Bella Swan in THE TWILIGHT SAGA film series between 2008-2012 and won the BAFTA Rising Star Award. In 2015 she was the first American to win a Caesar Award for Best Supporting Actress – the French ‘Oscar’ – for her portrayal of Valentine, a loyal PA to International star Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA. It was a role that also saw her collect other accolades, including the National Society of Critics, the New York Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics awards.

Kristen signed for me at the Corinthia Hotel in London on her way to the SEBERG screening at the BFI.