British actress Olivia Colman is one of the early favourites to win the Best Actress Oscar at the pinnacle of the awards season early next year for her ‘royally bonkers’ portrayal of Queen Anne in the restoration black comedy THE FAVOURITE. She has started well, winning the best actress categories at the British Independent Film Award (her fourth) on Sunday, and at the Venice International Film Festival in August.
Directed by Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, the film centres on the close relationship between Queen Anne, the last Stuart to occupy the British throne and her friend Lady Sarah Churchill, (Rachel Weisz) which comes under threat with the arrival of Sarah’s cousin Abigail Hill, (Emma Stone) resulting in a bitter rivalry to become the Queen’s favourite. In his five- star review for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers writes, “Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and the mighty Olivia Colman turn a period piece into a caustic comeuppance comedy with fangs and claws… THE FAVOURITE belongs to its three fierce, profanely funny female trio.”
They collected a Special Jury Prize for their ‘kinky palace triangle’ ensemble performance at the recent Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York. Olivia is no stranger to winning awards, nor for that matter, playing British queens. She is currently Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s historical drama web television series THE CROWN and during her career has won three BAFTAs, a Golden Globe and received two Emmy nominations, accolades which are likely to be added to over the coming months.
Olivia signed my ‘Queen Anne’ sketch at the Gala Screening of THE FAVOURITE at the BFI London Film Festival at the pop-up Embankment Cinema in October.
When Italian screen icon Sophia Loren was presented with an Honorary Academy Award in 1991 she was described as ‘one of the world cinema’s treasures’. She is the only living person on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 25 Female American Screen Legends.
Beginning her acting career in 1950 at the age of 16, Sophia has become a ‘true goddess of the silver screen.’ She won the Best Actress Oscar in 1961 for her role as Cesira in Vittorio De Sica’s TWO WOMEN, the first in that category for a foreign language performance. She also received the BAFTA and Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival for the same role and was nominated for her second Oscar three years later in MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE. Sophia has also won a record six Donatellos from the Academy of Italian Cinema, a Grammy and a handful of Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.
Rarely giving interviews or making public appearances these days, Sophia visited London last month to make her West End debut at the Aldwych Theatre in AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH SOPHIA LOREN with Jonathan Ross for one night only. I left this quick portrait sketch at the stage door and was very pleased when it was returned via International courier last week, signed and dedicated.
A ‘rendering on the run’… a literal two-minute sketch of actress Ukranian-born actress Olga Kurylenko. I found out she was attending the special screening of Rowan Atkinson’s latest installment of the spy comedy JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN at the Curzon Mayfair last month so did this quick line drawing for her to graph at the event, which she did.
Olga has kindly signed a couple of my previous sketches while she was filming her international breakthrough role as Bolivian secret service agent Camille Montes in the 22nd James Bond film QUANTUM OF SOLACE in 2008. Olga, a trained ballerina, was discovered as a model in Moscow at the age of 13 and moved to Paris to pursue that career path three years later, eventually swaping the catwalk for the screen. Fluent in Russian, French and English, she is now a French citizen who has resided in London since 2009.
Anglo-Irish playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh’s latest stage play A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER opened last week at London’s Bridge Theatre. Set in Copenhagen, it delves behind the dark sources of the beloved fairytales of Danish children’s author Hans Christian Anderson.
Martin is a person I admire greatly. With no formal training he wrote a stack of plays in 1990s that made him one of the most celebrated new English-language dramatists of his generation. The first six, separated into two trilogies, are located in and around County Galway on Ireland’s western seaboard, where he spent most of his childhood holidays. His first non-Irish play, THE PILLOWMAN was staged at the National Theatre in 2003, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play and was also Tony nominated in 2005. He had previously won the Olivier for THE LIEUTENANT OF INISMORE and collected his third for HANGMEN in 2016. He is yet to win a Tony after four nominations.
Martin has stated that it’s the screen, not the stage that is his favourite medium. In that realm, he is very very very much in demand after his third feature, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, which he wrote and directed, featured heavily during the latest awards season with seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Original Screenplay. It won five BAFTAs from nine nominations, winning Best Film and Best British Film and Best Original Screenplay for Martin who also claimed the producing, writing and directing Golden Globes. He’s no stranger to film awards. His screenplay for his first feature, IN BRUGES (2008) won the BAFTA and he received his fourth nomination for an Oscar, which he won on his first attempt in 2005 for SIX SHOOTER in the Best Live Action Short category.
I was very very very pleased to meet Martin at the World Premiere of A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER at the Bridge Theatre last week where he signed my sketch.
Although Sir David Hare is best known for his multi-award winning stage work, the distinguished English writer and director has also had great success with his screen career. He won the BAFTA for writing and directing LICKING HITLER in 1978, a television play about the black propaganda unit operating in England during WWII, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for his THE HOURS (2003) and THE READER (2009) adapted screenplays. He won the Writers Guild of America award for the former.
Sir David signed my quick portrait sketch at the recent BFI London Film Festival’s Gala screening of THE WHITE CROW, which he wrote about Soviet ballet legend Rudolph Nureyev’s defection to the West, directed by Ralph Fiennes.
Celebrated South Korean film director and writer Lee Chang-dong was one of the guests at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, which has just concluded. His latest film BURNING was chosen for a Gala Screening and he also delivered a screen talk.
Fresh from success at the Cannes Film Festival where the mystery drama was in competition for the Palm d’Or, Lee won the Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique – the International Critics prize. He had previously collected the Best Screenplay award in 2010 for his film POETRY. Lee was also South Korea’s Minister of Culture and Tourism in 2003/2004 which was part of President Roh Moo-hyun’s election promise to fill the position from the field of culture rather than a professional politician.
He signed my sketch at the BFI on London’s Southbank before his screen talk on Saturday.
The Guardian newspaper simply described Sir Michael Parkinson as ‘the great British talk show host.’ The doyen of his craft, peerless and unrivalled then and now, ‘Parky’ was the flagship of the BBC’s prime time schedule with his PARKINSON series.
The eighty-three year old Yorkshireman and son of a miner, started in print journalism before ‘discovering’ TV. His career has spanned over five decades, interviewing every notable celebrity – with two exceptions – and in the process becoming one himself. The most remarkable, he said was Muhammad Ali and the two he regrets not interviewing were Frank Sinatra and Sir Don Bradman.
I’ve meet Parky on a few occasions, the last at Lords during the England vs India cricket test match last month, but never had a sketch to get graphed. That was rectified when I drew this one, sent it to his home in Berkshire and it came back suitably inscribed.
One of my favourite filmmakers is British director Paul Greengrass… in fact he’s one of the nicest people in the business. I have been fortunate to meet him on a few occasions and he has always been nothing less than affable, ‘cheerful and deeply untortured’ as Danny Leigh described him in his Financial Times interview.
The most recent occasion was just over a week ago. He was sitting in the BFI having a quiet coffee, before taking part in a special event about his work with broadcaster Mark Kermode. I interrupted the serenity with a sig request on my sketch. He was nothing less than affable, cheerful, even deeply untortured and accommodating.
An Alma Mater of Queen’s College, Cambridge, Paul joined the ITV current affairs programme WORLD IN ACTION in the 1980’s. He co-authored the book SPYCATCHER, with Peter Wright, former assistant director of M15, which the British government tried to ban due to its sensitive content, ensuring its profit and notoriety. Paul’s background in TV journalism marks his signature visual style, what he calls ‘the unknowing camera’ – often hand-held, never keeping pace with events happening half a second ahead. He makes action thrillers with brains and startling realism, inspired by real-world events such as UNITED 93, his 2006 film about the fate of United Flight 93, one of the planes hijacked on September 11, 2001 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, when passengers foiled the terrorist plot.
Paul was honoured with an Oscar nomination and won the BAFTA for his direction. He was also nominated for a Writers Guild Award for the original screenplay. Paul’s latest film, 22 JULY, based on Norway’s largest terrorist attack is set to be Netflix biggest global theatrical release.
‘Spike Lee Joints’ typically refers to the acclaimed American director’s films. His latest joint, BLACKKKLANSMAN is regarded as his “most accessible and narratively satisfying movie in over a decade.” Critics have called it a return to form for the socially conscious auteur, winning the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and being nominated for the Palm d’Or. It is based on the 2014 memoirs of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department who sets out to infiltrate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
Among his many accolades, Spike has received both an Honorary BAFTA and Oscar, with the later citing “a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers.”
After Cannes, Spike attended a screening of BLACKKKLANSMAN at the BFI in London followed by a Q+A. I had hoped to get my sketch signed at the event, but he arrived and apologised, said he had to quickly get into the auditorium, but would see us afterwards. I was unable to wait so I sent the drawing to his film company in Brooklyn, New York and it came back signed and dedicated.
Massachusetts-born, LA-based comedian, podcaster and actor Jen Kirkman brought her THE ALL NEW MATERIAL, GIRL tour to London’s Soho Theatre earlier this year for a sell-out run and returned for a one-night only gig at the Leicester Square Theatre in June.
She does regular stand-up at the Hollywood Improv and The Laugh Factory. On TV she’s a panellist on CHELSEA LATELY and narrates DRUNK HISTORY, while her podcast I SEEM FUN gets 50,000 downloads a month. Jen is a stand-up consultant and writer for Amy Sherman-Palladino’s latest hit series THE MARVELOUS MRS MAISEL, which won two Golden Globes recently and has six Emmy nominations.
In a Guardian interview earlier this year she said, “My fan base tends to be, for want of a better phrase, on the punk-rock side of life, feminists, lesbians, guys who wear nail polish, mums who are really fun and like to drink a lot.” She also said the audiences are different, depending on the day. “Monday’s are more responsive, anyone going out on a Monday must be a die-hard fan. Whereas on Fridays, people have worked all week, they’re tired and angry… and drinking. Friday’s are the toughest, weird energy. Saturday’s are just rowdy, so if you can combine the loyalty of Monday with the rowdiness of Saturday that would be ideal.”
Jen signed my drawing for me at her Leicester Square one show only on 22 June. It was a Friday.