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 first time I met French composer Alexandre Desplat was at the opening night of fellow Parisian Michel Legrand‘s THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG at London’s Gielgud Theatre in 2011. I asked him for an autograph and he was apologeticly reluctant to oblige because of the highest esteem he held for the legendary Michel, who was also in attendance and signing only a few feet away. He waited until Michel had gone into the theatre and then was happy to my accommodate my request. I admired his class and courtesy.
Since then Alexandre has gone on to establish his own niche in the history of film composition. After his Hollywood breakthrough in 2003 with the musical score for GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING, he has won every accolade going, including two Academy Awards for THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014) and this year, THE SHAPE OF WATER. He was also nominated for THE IMITATION GAME in 2014, so the odds of winning his first Oscar were greatly enhanced. He repeated his success at the BAFTAs as well as THE KING’S SPEECH in 2011 and has also added two Golden Globes and two Grammys to his awards cabinet.
I think it won’t end there. Alexandre was part of the industry programme at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. I was lucky to meet the charming Frenchman afterwards at the Picturehouse Central Cinema earlier this week, where he signed my portrait.
British comic Ramesh Ranganathan seems to be everywhere on the TV these days. Since he’s appeared or is appearing on most of the popular panel shows it would be quicker to mention the ones he hasn’t.
Ramesh, who was born in Crawley, West Sussex – hence his autobiography title ‘Straight Outa Crawly: Memoirs of a Distinctly Average Human Being’- is of Sri Lankan Tamil descent. After studying maths at London University’s Birbeck College, he taught the subject at Hazelwick School in his home town and was also a successful freestyle rapper called ‘Ranga’, before succumbing to satire, turning into a professional comedian in 2012. A year later he was nominated for the Best Newcomer at The Edinburgh Comedy Awards.
His comic style is described as deadpan. His latest TV series JUDGE ROMESH is an unscripted show which sees him presiding over genuine disputes in a fictional court, metering out comic judgement. I managed to catch Romesh to sign this sketch as he was quickly exiting the Soho Theatre a few weeks ago after a ‘work in progress’ performance.
Scottish actress Neve McIntosh made her West End debut this summer in Tracy Letts American southern gothic comedy KILLER JOE at the Trafalgar Studios. She played Sharla, the stepmother in the ‘fiercely disturbing’ play, set in a Texas trailer park about the dysfunctional Smith family who hire a detective and hit-man Joe Cooper to kill the mother and claim the insurance.
In her WhatsOnStage review, Sarah Crompton wrote they Neve “adds insight and sass to her scenes as Sharla the stepmother, determined to survive and make as much of life as she can.” Neve herself described the play as “dark, funny, shocking and very human.”
She’s a familiar face on the small screen, appearing in a number of popular British shows, including a recurring role as Madame Vastra in DOCTOR WHO and architect Kay Gillies in BBC1’s miniseries THE REPLACEMENT.
She signed my Shayla sketch at the beginning of the run in June and the portrait during the final week at the stage door in August.
One of the rising stars of British theatre is Welsh-born RADA graduate Rachel Redford, who is currently one of the 18 characters, a blend of refugees and British volunteers in Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s THE JUNGLE at London’s Playhouse theatre. She was part of the original Young Vic cast that transferred to the West End back in June in the wake of five- star reviews.
THE JUNGLE, defined as a ‘vital drama’ by The Guardian, focuses on the hopeful, resilient residents of the Calais refugee camp in 2015. Rachel plays Beth, a young teacher, described as a ‘passionate bundle of outrage.’
In her Evening Standard review Fiona Mountford summed up the British volunteers involvement, as a “true Empire hangover… they want to improve order on this sea of human desperation but are hopelessly out of their depth.”
Rachel signed my sketch for me after a Saturday matinee performance a few weeks ago.
Jo McInnes divides her time between acting and directing. She is currently appearing in the hugely acclaimed THE JUNGLE at the Playhouse theatre in London’s West End. Jo was a member of the original cast when the play premiered last year, with previews from 16 June (World Refugee Day) and transferred with the production across the river to its present venue. It is scheduled to cross a wider stretch of water and set up in New York later this year.
Set in Europe’s largest unofficial refugee camp, the Calais Jungle on the northern French coast, which became the home for more than 10,000 people in 2015, it immerses audiences in all the complexities and contradictions of a refugee camp.
In his Variety review, Matt Bateman wrote, “THE JUNGLE does everything theatre does best, and more.” Jo plays the pragmatic and jaded volunteer Paula, a ‘free swearing child protector… a caring, no-nonsense matriarch’
She signed my sketch of her in the role at the stage door last month.
One of Britain’s leading stage actors, Dominic Rowan has added the critically acclaimed THE JUNGLE to his already extensive list of credits, which is matched by his TV work, including his role as CPS prosecutor Jacob Thorne in the ITV crime drama LAW AND ORDER: UK.
He joined the cast of THE JUNGLE, the immersive play about the now-bulldozed migrant camp in Calais, after its sell-out run at Young Vic over the winter, when the production transferred to The Playhouse Theatre in June. Dominic plays Derek, an idealistic, somewhat self-important seasoned charity worker. He will stay with the show after it completes its West End run next month and shifts camp stateside to New York.
Dominic has kindly signed a number of my sketches at various stage doors over the years. He did this ‘Derek’ drawing for me a few weeks ago as he arrived for a Saturday matinee.
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.
“I like stories and I am always looking for the one which I imagine to be irresistible,” wrote British novelist and screenwriter Ian McEwan, considered one of the most powerful people in UK culture and listed by The Times in the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.
Winner of numerous accolades, including six nominations for the Man Booker Prize, Ian won the prestigious award in 1998 for his novel AMSTERDAM. The acclaimed screen adaption of his romantic war drama ATONEMENT collected Oscars, BAFTAs and a Golden Globe.
I had hoped to catch Ian in person at the premiere of his latest film adaption THE CHILDREN’S ACT at the Curzon Mayfair, but missed him, so sent this sketch to his agent and it came back signed and dedicated.
In musical terms there are few bigger names than Michel Legrand. The celebrated Frenchman, known for his ‘often haunting, jazz-tinged film music’ has composed nearly 200 movie scores, winning every accolade going, including three Academy Awards, 5 Grammys and a Golden Globe.
One of my favourite songs, ‘Windmills Of Your Mind’ from THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR and sung by Noel Harrison, won the Best Song Oscar in 1968. He seems to have worked, at one time or another with practically every figure of consequence in popular music and film since the end of the Second World War. His theatre work has also been recognised with a Tony nomination for AMOUR and he even has an asteroid – 31201 michellegrand – named in his honour.
The 86 year-old performed for the first time in the UK last month at the Royal Festival Hall, when he conducted and played the piano with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, or as it was dubbed on the night, the ‘Michel Legrand Big Band,’ celebrating 60 years of his most cherished film scores.
In his review for London Jazz News, Andrew Cartmel summed up the experience in one paragraph, “ICE STATION ZEBRA demonstrated the mastery of film composition that Legrand had achieved as early as 1968. The pointillist mystery of the introduction, comprising cross-hatched strings and glockenspiel, yielded to supple shoots of wood winds springing up, subtly and adroitly conjuring the mood before the brass section injected a stab of menace… Legrand’s music remains compelling, absorbing and masterful.”
It was an honour to have Monsieur Legrand sign my drawing at the venue.