Some Quality Stalking Time

22 Oct

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Went on another stalking bender this weekend, during my down time on the couch with a heating pad plopped on my guts.

…It’s one of my all-time favorite things to do, and is usually accomplished in short blips as needed, unless I’m laid out for a significant amount of time and happen to be watching something that reminds me that Actors are fucking amazing human talent-Gods of mad skillz.  (Least, the ones I follow are.)  So while their super, amazing, talents played in serial episodes of yay on my TV, I got out the tablet and followed some of my current craze-crushes to see what they’ve been up to of late.  And because I feel you should be aware of these people (who are not necessarily really well-known “A-listers — though they SHOULD be), I will be including them in today’s blog as a special appreciation day to “That One Dude.”

…”That One Dude” is the known face, but often nameless actor (and by “Actor” I mean “Actress” too…I just prefer it as a general term.)

…So here are my peeps, (in no particular order), currently being stalked. (All English, of course, cuz they’re who I haunt the most.)  Some names better known than others:

Julia Sawalha – You’d know her best from Ab-Fab. I love her best from her period works. After a ten year acting hiatus she popped back onto the screen in literary-plums Cranford, and Lark Rise to Candleford, and after the the 20th Anniversary Ab-Fab specials is now sitting on two new series’ from which she has yet to pick. Being kinda the shit at the moment, she is well-open to be choosy, and cuz she’s got killer taste and obviously a good sense of self-humor, am totally chomping at the bit right now to see what she does next.

Imelda Staunton – RADA Grad, and one the best Harry Potter villains, ever. She’s of the original company much used in Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson works like Peter’s Friends, Much Ado, and Sense and Sensibility. Her acting chops are enormous (Vera Drake) no matter how diminutive the package it comes in (she’s only 5′ tall.) And she’s a major fav for her overt Character Actor-ness, sucking your eyes into her direction absolutely every time she pops onto the screen. Next up on her docket: a dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent’s POV.

Brendan Coyle – Right now, you know him as “Mr. Bates,” hailing from Downton Abbey fame, but I know him first from Gaskell’s North and South (also sporting Richard Armitage, in his break-through role.) A solid Actor who often shoulders characters in the working man’s fight, with political morals, (which is a thing I could always take a little more of, coming from a TV screen, thank you very much.) Next up, more Mr. Bates-ness, and cop drama Sunshine.

Lisa Dillon – RADA alum, and primarily a Theatre baby. She was part of the “who the fuck wasn’t in this series,” Cranford, but spends the bulk of her time on The Boards, with a whole slew of Acting Awards already pocketed. (She also wow’d the tabloids with her 43-year-difference romance with Patrick Stewart — hello, Captain!) She’s an acting heavy of her own accord though, with huge range and some awesome reviews for Ibsen’s “Master Builder” (with Stewart), Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter” and “Private Lives,” Fedeau’s “Flea in Her Ear,” Eldridge’s “Knot of the Heart,” Tennessee Williams’ “Period of Adjustment,” and Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”…to name a few. The woman is only a year older than me, and has such freak credits, that if she stopped acting tomorrow, she would STILL have had a better career than anyone outside of maybe Meryl Streep. True story. With the works she tackles, she’s definitely on my list of people to see on stage, next time I travel London way.

Derek Jacobi – On my trip to London, I missed seeing his Malvolio in “Twelfth Night,” by one week, and it totally tore me up to realize it. He’s a fav from back when I first started following the Branagh ensemble works like Dead Again, Henry V, and Hamlet et al. You’ll prob’ly remember him from Altman’s Gosford Park, or I, Claudius. As one of the co-founders of The National Theatre (with Laurence Olivier), and one of the RSC’s most elite, he’s shared stages with everyone from Ian McKellen, Peter O’Tool, and Richard Burton, to John Gielgud and Wendy Hiller. A major contributor to Branagh’s education when he first began, he works on with the equal force of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, as war horses of eternal awesomeness. It is always good class time, well spent, to watch him at work…so I’m always on board whenever his name hits a cast list. Just closed in Bernard Shaw’s “Heartbreak House,” at the Chinchester Fest Theatre. Next up, some screen time with Emma Thompson, David Suchet, Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters in bio pic, Effie…followed by period piece Of Corset’s Mine, and a Shakespeare Uncovered PBS special, as he performs and coaches a session at the Globe on “Richard II.”

Emma Fielding – Another Theatre mainstay, you’d prob’ly only recognize from the Cranford series. She does audio book work on the classics, and had also taken a turn winning Theatre awards for Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” (on Broadway), as well as Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia”, Moliere’s “School for Wives,” and John Ford’s “Broken Heart.” Among her other works: Viola in “Twelfth Night,” Lady Mackers in “Macbeth,” and title role in “Jane Eyre.” She just finished the UK Theatre tour of “The King’s Speech,” (as Queen Elizabeth), and Hesione in “Heartbreak House” with Derek Jacobi…so it’s too bad she has no range or anything…which is good to be mindful of and learn from when archetype boxes start hemming you in. For the life of me, I can’t find what’s next on her docket, but I’m sure as hell gonna see that woman on stage at some point, so need to figure it out within the next year…when hopefully I’ll be back overseas again.

Hugh Bonneville – Lord Grantham to most, this Downton Abbey alum goes back to Notting Hill, and Mansfield Park, for me. Read theology at Cambridge, and a graduate of Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, he is primarily a character actor on screen, always a comfortable, solid edition to any scene he’s in, without needing to trapes out a bunch of bells and whistles to achieve it. On stage, he gets to strut more in the spotlight…his first gig as Ralph Fiennes’ understudy in “Midsummer,” got him picked up immediatly with seasons spent at The National, and RSC, and has a huge reel of credits including “June and the Paycock,” “School for Scandal,” “The Alchemist,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” and played Laertes to Branagh’s “Hamlet” at the RSC. Also a Patron of children’s charities, he’s just an all-round awesome fella, which comes through in every print interview he gives. Totally on my list of favs, and people to watch at work live, oneday. Next up: More Downton, and Sci-Fi/History mix Return of Captain Nemo, with Captain America’s Haley Atwell.

Claudie Blakley – First fell hard for Claudie in Gosford Park, with her tiny details of awkwardness and heartbreak making a totally stand-out performance to me as an (at the time) totally unknown, on a screen full of giants. She won me over further with her ensemble work in Cranford and Lark Rise as well, never hogging a scene, always eager to play with her partners and match them and challenge them with continual, solid choices. She’s the kinda person I’d wanna share a stage with every day. A grad of Judi Dench’s Alma Mater, London Central School of Speech and Drama, I will follow her anywhere, on any future project she chooses, because one can never learn enough ways to share a scene, own a character, and exude consistent excellence as a specialist in ensemble working. Most recently in National Theatre Live productions of “Cherry Orchard” and “Comedy of Errors,” and “Macbeth,” at the Sheffield Crucible.

Victoria Hamilton – I did a whole freakin’ blog on her once, cuz the woman is fierce, and we fill the same esthetic theatre shoes including height and general look and build, so she’s an ideal role model to watch and learn from in dynamics, role choice and general chutzpah. A LAMDA grad, she’s swept awards for nearly every theatre role she’s done, from “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” (which you can watch it here, in total. And yes, that’s Eddie Izzard as her co-star.), to “As You Like It,” and “The Master Builder.” She was Viola in the Derek Jacobi “Twelfth Night,” and closed in June with glowing reviews for Mike Bartlett’s “Love, Love, Love.” You might know her on film from the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice, or Lark Rise, or Mansfield Park. I know her as my more awesome Doppelganger. Either way, she’s always on my list of look-ups, and will always play a part in ticket purchasing, whenever I’m abroad.

…The list went on from there, going on until the wee smalls of the morning. Because I could.

…It’s a fetish that always makes me eager to get to work and learn things, and do them better than the last time. They’re my teachers, these people…as much as the ones I currently (and in the past) have shared the stage with. And at some point, I’m gonna see ’em all live, from a theatre seat, like I did with Dench.

One of my many goals.

…You should cue up and watch some of their work, if you haven’t already, and see what all the fuss is about.

~D

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