Jenny Agutter won a BAFTA Award for her performance as Jill Mason in Sidney Lumet’s 1977 production of Peter Shaffer’s psychological drama EQUUS, one of my favourite, if not my favourite play. In the 2007 London stage revival of the play featuring Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe at the Gielgud Theatre she portrayed magistrate Hesther Solomon. A couple of weeks ago I did this sketch of Jenny in both roles and sent it to her. She signed and sent it back with this dedication.
The 3′ 6″ STAR WARS and HARRY POTTER star Warwick Davis appeared as Prof in the Bristol Hippodrome festive season panto production of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS in 2015. Warwick came to prominence as the Ewok Wicket in STAR WARS EPISODE VI RETURN OF THE JEDI and continued in THE PHANTOM MENACE, in three roles – Weael, Wald and the walking version of Yoda. In 2015 he returned in the sequel THE FORCE AWAKENS. Warwick was also part of the HARRY POTTER series, as Professor Filius Flitwick and Griphook. On the small screen he played a fictionalised version of himself in the sitcom LIFE’S TOO SHORT, written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
I sent this sketch of Warwick as Prof to the Bristol Hippodrome in December 2015 and it came back last week, signed and dedicated!
I was very happy to receive this in the post yesterday. One of my all-time favourite film directors, Czech-born, New York-based Milos Forman signed and returned this drawing. Although I had corresponded with Milos a few times over the years, I had never actually sketched him, until late this year when the omission suddenly dawned on me. I quickly engaged the 4B and posted the result to the 84 year-old, forthwith. Regarded as one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of his generation and the master of ironic comedy and sumptuous period dramas, he was fascinated with odd, yet sympathetic characters, exploring their struggles as individuals against systems and standards that oppress them.
Growing up in the small, Central Bohemian town of Caslav, near Prague, it was Milos’ parents who nurtured his love of cinema at a young age. Sadly orphaned when both his mother and father died in Nazi concentration camps during the second World War, he went on to become the most important director of the Czechoslovak New Wave, before moving to America in 1968. His multiple accolades include two Best Director Academy Awards, the first for the potent adaption of Ken Kesey’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975) and his second for Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS (1984), both Best Picture winners, with the former considered one of the best films ever made. Incidentally two of my top ten films as well.
In its Milos retrospective, the AFI summarised his body of work, “Based on intelligent scripts, Forman’s work is characterised by a sharp anti-authoritarian spirit and a lucid, heart felt humanism.”
‘The Fresh Prince’ was in London town late last week for the European Premiere of his latest film COLLATERAL BEAUTY. I had sketched this portrait some time ago, but never managed to get Will to sign it. His popularity means it can be a bit of a battle to get his graph. Forbes claims he is the world’s most bankable star, with 17 out of his last 21 films grossing over $100 million and Newsweek once called him ‘the most powerful actor in Hollywood’. But I had another chance to get him to sign my drawing, not helped by the pens being locked down at 4pm, and my arrival at ten past. However the Christmas spirit or spirits prevailed and I managed to secure a spot, albeit it in a difficult position.
Will arrived first, did a few pics then proceeded to sign the line. Three rows back wasn’t ideal and that was confirmed as I just couldn’t quite get the sketch close enough to be seen amongst the gazillion other items and selfie requests. He moved on… but that Christmas spirit was still trending and a very kind gentleman next to me, not in red clothing nor a white beard, but with the wing span of a pterodactyl, grabbed my rendering and positioned in right in front of Will and he happily signed it.
During the past eight years I have had the privilege of not only seeing British actor Mark Rylance on the London stage on many occasions, but meeting him, mainly at stage doors. I have also produced a similar number of drawings, which he has kindly graphed for me, often with a complimentary word or two, before getting on his bicycle and riding off to his South London home.
His many accolades, Tony, Olivier, BAFTA and now an Academy Award are acknowledgment to his brilliance. He is routinely described as the greatest actor of this generation and always receives the acclaim with grace and dignity… and usually his faithful black hat. I thought I don’t have a sketch of Mark with his hat! … so I did this one. Most of his memorable work has been on the stage rather than the screen. In fact he turned down a role in Steven Spielberg’s EMPIRE OF THE SUN to tread the boards at the National Theatre.
In a recent interview for the British GQ magazine, writer Ed Caesar described Mark in his intro as “a man powered by inner conflict and never more at peace than when the curtain rises.” But when he does do screen work, he really hits the mother lode. Mark eventually said ‘yes’ to Mr Spielberg, winning this year’s Oscar for his portrayal as soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Abel in BRIDGE OF SPIES and a BAFTA for his star turn as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC’s WOLF HALL.
Mark has returned to his beloved stage this winter, starring in his own play NICE FISH which he wrote with Louis Jenkins, directed by his wife Claire van Kampen. After a short run at the St Anne’s Warehouse in New York earlier this year, the production has transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End, where I meet him again. No hat, or bicycle this time, but he did sign my ‘hat’ drawing with his inimitable style.
Swedish actress Alicia Vikander began her performing career in stage productions in her home town with the Gothenburg Opera, before training as a dancer at the Royal Swedish Ballet School in Stockholm and then the School of American Ballet in New York. After some TV and short film work in Sweden, Alicia’s feature film debut was PURE in 2010 and she gained widespread recognition two years later as Princess Ekaterina ‘Kitty’ Alexandrovna Scherbatskaya in Joe Wright’s adaption of ANNA KARENINA. She followed that up as Vera Brittain in TESTAMENT OF YOUTH and a humanoid robot in EX MACHINA, which earned her BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. This year she won the Best Supporting Actress SAG and Academy Awards for her role as artist Gerda Wegener in THE DANISH GIRL.
Alicia signed my portrait sketch for me at the UK premiere of her latest film, THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS at the Curzon Mayfair cinema in London last week.
Lea Helene Seydoux-Fornier de Clansonne thankfully condensed her name to Lea Seydoux, which makes it easier and quicker to sign, as was the case last week when the heavily pregnant French actress attended the screening of Xavier Dolan’s IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD at the 60th BFI London Film Festival. The film won the Grand Prix and Jury prizes at Cannes this year and will be Canada’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Academy Awards.
Lea began her career in French cinema, winning the Trouphee Chopard Award given to promising actors at Cannes and receiving one of her many Cesar noms for the 2008 film THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. Her international break-out role was Emma in the coming-of-age romantic drama BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR, which won the Palm d’Or. Hollywood blockbusters followed including her role as Dr Madeleine Swan the ‘main amour’ in the 24th Bond film SPECTRE Peter Bradshaw in his Guardian review described her performance as ‘stylishly played with just the right amount of sullen sensuality.”
It was great to get her to graph my sketch, albeit with a purple sharpie!
Last time five time Oscar nominee Amy Adams signed a sketch for me the weather gods were not kind, but she was and managed to graph my drawing despite the drops. This time the rain threatened… but that’s all at the Gala Screening of Tom Ford’s intoxicating thriller NOCTURNAL ANIMALS at the BFI London Film Festival on Friday night. I did this drawing of Amy as the Baker’s Wife in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony-Award winning musical INTO THE WOODS which was part of the Delacorte Theatre’s 2012 summer series in New York’s Central Park.
I was especially pleased because she only did a small section of the crowd in a restricted red carpet area at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square and she was only signing her quick, shortened double ‘a’ initial sig (which I quite like). With the sketch she took the time to chat and only dedicate, but the sign her full autograph.
I meet the wonderful British actress Brenda Blethyn on Saturday afternoon at the world premiere of the animated feature ETHEL & ERNEST at the Curzon cinema as part of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. Brenda voiced the title character Ethel in this film version of Raymond Brigg’s graphic novel about the life of his parents. Currently appearing in the sixth series of the TV drama VERA as DCI Vera Stanhope, Brenda’s breakthrough role was Cynthia Rose Purley in Mike Leigh’s SECRETS & LIES in 1996, which won her the Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and the first of her two Oscar nominations. Equally successful stage career, winning an Olivier Award in Michael Frayn’s 1984’s BENEFACTORS.
I had hoped to catch Brenda going in, but was unable to. She stayed for the screening and did a Q+A at its conclusion which took a few hours but the wait was well worth it, as she happily signed my portrait with her superb ‘graph.
It’s early days in the Oscar race, but Isabelle Huppert’s performance in the psychological thriller ELLE has her in nomination contention. Many pundits believe that the veteran French actress pulls off one of the year’s most challenging characters -a rape victim who refuses to let her abuse define her. In Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s first feature for a decade, Isabelle plays Michele who stalks her attacker. After a strong showing in competition at Cannes, the film has been selected as France’s official entry in the Foreign Language category at next year’s Academy Awards.
Isabelle has appeared in over 100 films and TV productions since 1971, winning a BAFTA and a record 15 nominations for France’s highest film award, the Cesar, winning in 1995 for LA CEREMONIE. She was in London last week with Paul attending the ELLE in-competition screening at this year’s BFI London Film Festival where she signed my drawing.