Actors and Actresses

A Chat with 'Vera's' Brenda Blethyn

A few weeks ago I received a press release in my email from Acorn TV alerting me, as a blogger, that the streaming service was about to premiere a new episode of Vera Series 5 every Monday for the entire month of July. (Editorial note: For those of you without Acorn TV access, Series 5 of Vera begins on WETA on July 17, and on other PBS stations around the country beginning at various points this month. Enjoy!)

What really caught my eye, however, were these words - INTERVIEW OPP: Brenda Blethyn. I immediately shot off a reply to Acorn’s publicity assistant expressing my keen interest to interview the Academy Award nominated actress. After over a dozen emails and lot of re-watching of Vera episodes, I found myself sitting in my living room yesterday morning waiting for a conference call from Brenda Blethyn herself.

This being my first interview with a well-known actress (or anyone really for that matter), I was a bit nervous and more than slightly giddy. Nonetheless, as soon as I got the first question out of the way, Ms. Blethyn put me at my ease. I know it’s not very professional to gush about your interview subject and perhaps I should be more objective, but I just have to say that Brenda was gracious, generous with her laughter and obviously very passionate about her work. I was already a fan of her acting and now, after speaking with her, I’ve gotten the distinct impression she’s a pretty awesome human being as well.

But enough from this star-struck blogger; please enjoy the conversation I shared with Brenda Blethyn wherein we discussed cast changes, Vera’s fashion sense and why she enjoys playing our favorite Northumberland and City police officer, DCI Stanhope.

Remembering Sir Christopher Lee: Five Roles You Should Watch

Iconic British actor Sir Christopher Lee has passed away at the age of 93.

It’s hard to know what to even write about that. Lee was the sort of unforgettable actor that if you ever saw him in anything – and you probably saw him in something, he did everything – you remembered it. A lot of times, it was because of that voice – his resonant baritone was the definition of unique – and a lot of times it was because Lee had a knack for playing memorable villains, the complicated sort that stay with you, that you end up feeling kind of sympathetic toward, even and often in spite of yourself.

In truth, Lee appeared in over 250 film and television productions - well beyond any attempt to pigeonhole him into any sort of genre or character - and the sheer volume of his work makes even attempting to summarize his career a challenging prospect. Suffice it to say, he has done everything: from playing a Bond villain, to a Tolkien villain, to Dracula, to FrnHe even played Death himself. In case all that acting wasn’t enough, he also served in both the Royal Air Force and the secretive Special Forces in World War II, was happily married to his wife Birgit Kroencke for over fifty years, and recorded not only an album of Broadway showtunes, but also two gothic heavy metal records.

Lee lived life to the absolute fullest, and even while we mourn his loss, it seemed appropriate to pause and celebrate a small handful of his greatest roles.

British (Irish) Actors You Should Know: Aidan Turner

If you are a frequent visitor to Telly Visions, you may already know about the remake of the 1975 drama/romance series Poldark coming to PBS in June. If you haven’t heard, this new version stars Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, an English Revolutionary War soldier who has returned home to Cornwall only to find his world turned upside down.

The series was very well received by viewers in the UK earlier this year, particularly the female audience. Poldark and its star became a social media sensation evidenced by the fact that Twitter handles such as Poldark’s Hair and Poldark’s Pecs starting popping up. Not since Mr. Darcy in his wet shirt has such a swoon-worthy fuss been made about a literary page to small screen character.

Therefore, I felt it timely and appropriate to introduce those of you unfamiliar with Aidan Turner to this Irish actor and bona fide heartthrob. The following are examples of most of Turner’s featured roles leading up to Poldark.

‘Sherlock’s’ Benedict Cumberbatch to Read at Reburial of King Richard III

The remains of infamous British monarch King Richard III will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral this week – almost three years after they were discovered buried under a car park in Leicester in 2012. The bones were extensively tested and verified via DNA to belong to the King, and will now be ceremonially reburied in the city where his body was returned following his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Over 20,000 people visited the cathedral to pay their respects to the last Plantagnet king and view his coffin before its reburial on March 26. In a weird twist that provides further evidence that he really is everywhere, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is set to take part in the ceremony by reading a poem specifically written to mark the occasion of King Richard’s reburial by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Before They Were Oscar Nominees: British Stars Up for Academy Awards in 2015

This year five talented Brits have been nominated for an Academy Award. Most of these names are quite familiar to UK film fans; however, before they were delivering inspiring performances and their names appeared on movie theater marquees, they had to pay their dues with small guest appearances in television series and made-for-TV movies.

Let’s take a brief look at their careers before they were Oscar hopefuls…

Watch: Patrick Stewart Plays Every Single Person You Hate on a Flight

It’s already well established that Sir Patrick Stewart is basically a perfect human being, as evidenced by his hilarious Christmas videos, amazing Halloween costumes, and staunch support for American democracy, not to mention his epically glorious friendship with fellow fantastic Brit Sir Ian McKellen.

So, you’d probably be forgiven for thinking that there’s literally no way he could get more awesome. Well, you’d be wrong about that.

In Memoriam 2014

Another year has rushed by and alas some talented and beloved performers have left us in that time. The following is a list of British entertainers who passed away in 2014. While their departures were, in many cases, far too soon, we will always have the memories of magical screen moments to keep their legacies alive.

Happy Christmas: Let’s Celebrate with Tom Hiddleston and a Puppy

Happy Christmas, Telly Visions readers! (Or Happy Thursday and generally Winter-ish season, if this holiday’s not your particular thing.) The point is – today’s a day to appreciate and celebrate the people we care about, and we’re grateful that you all choose to stop by and read the blog regularly and comment and chat with us, today and every day. Y’all are awesome, and the best present a girl could ask for.

So, how best to celebrate such a special day? How about a cute video featuring The Avengers and The Hollow Crown star Tom Hiddleston? There’s really no way to go wrong with that combination, yeah?

So get yourself in the proper holiday spirit – or soothe your irritation that Santa didn’t bring you the properly British gear you were hoping for - by watching the Internet’s Other Boyfriend (Who Isn’t Benedict Cumberbatch) team up with iconic Nashville singer Rodney Crowell to celebrate Christmas in song.

Oh, yeah, and he’s holding a puppy through all of this, in case you didn’t think that the cuteness level was cranked up high enough already.

Birthday Binge Watch: Five Judi Dench Performances You Can Stream Online

December 2014 holds an important milestone for fans of British drama everywhere as the great Dame Judi Dench celebrates her 80th birthday (December 9).

Dench, a stunningly talented actress who has served as a gateway drug of sorts for several generations of Anglophiles, is pretty much universally beloved, having wracked up untold numbers of BAFTAs, Tonys, Olivier Awards, Golden Globes and even an Oscar for her work and a massive global fanbase obsessed with her general sass and perfection. And, now that she’s officially an octogenarian, she’s even more awesome than ever, with upcoming roles in sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the second round of Hollow Crown films, in which she’ll play Cecily, the Duchess of York (i.e. Richard III’s – or in this case Benedict Cumberbatch’smom.)

So, to celebrate her special day, here are five classic Dench performances that you can stream online right now.

 

British Actors You Should Know: Timothy Spall

If you’re the type of person who pays attention to film award season, you probably will have heard about the recent accolades for our spotlighted actor, Timothy Spall. A hardworking and versatile performer since the late 70’s, Spall seems to be finally getting the attention he deserves for a career defining achievement.

He won best actor honors at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his title role in the biopic Mr. Turner. Spall embodies eccentric English Romantic landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. Director Mike Leigh (with whom Spall has worked four times perviously) is known for his formidable demands on his actors. For this period piece, Leigh insisted Spall not only research the artist he was setting out to play but also to spend two years learning his distinctive painting technique. What resulted was this Oscar buzz-worthy bit of acting.

Mr. Turner will be out in limited release beginning December 19, presumably to qualify for the Academy Awards race. Here’s hoping it won’t be much longer after that that those of us not living in major metropolitan cities will be able to witness the magic as well.

While all the kudos and glowing reviews are surely very nice indeed, Spall has been putting in memorable, entertaining performances for years. From notable roles in TV series such as Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and The Street to a cameo in The King’s Speech as Winston Churchill, his talent has consistently been on display. If you’d like a reminder of his range or just want to explore his body of work for the first time, here are a handful of film and TV roles you might want to try. Believe me, Peter Pettigrew from the Harry Potter films is just the tip of the iceberg.

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