TIME movies

Remembering Richard Attenborough, the Man Behind Gandhi

Richard Attenborough
NBC/Getty Images

Sir Dickie, as he was widely known and loved, directed many a sprawling epic — but his signal gift was as an actor of bold, powerful and often creepy range

When Richard Attenborough was a teenager in 1939, his parents wanted to adopt two German Jewish girls fleeing the Third Reich. His mother Mary presented the option to Richard and his two brothers, telling them it was the only right thing to do but that the decision was “entirely up to you, darlings.” Of course, the boys said yes.

For the rest of his long, accomplished life, Attenborough used the same coaxing charm to get what he wanted from producers, actors and audiences. “Attenborough was an old-school British film mogul who nailed down huge funding or casting decisions over a good lunch,” Peter Bradshaw wrote in The Guardian. “When he started work on Gandhi in the 1960s, he simply got Mountbatten [Prince Philip's uncle] to introduce him to Nehru [India's first Prime Minister] and took things from there.” At the end of his 20-year campaign to make the movie, he charmed the Motion Picture Academy into giving his grand, stodgy biopic Oscars for Best Picture and Director, over another, far superior movie about a strong, benign outsider: Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

(READ: Richard Schickel’s review of Gandhi by subscribing to TIME)

Attenborough, who died Sunday in London, five days before his 91st birthday, knew everyone, from assistants on movie sets to Princess Diana, whom at Prince Charles’ request he coached in public speaking, turning Shy Di into a figure of poised charisma. Diana — everyone — called him Dickie, or, as the official honors piled up, Sir Dickie or Lord Dickie. He had a name for them too: “darling,” his mother Mary’s favorite endearment for her boys. “At my age,” he said in his later years, “the only problem is with remembering names. When I call everyone ‘darling,’ it has damn all to do with passionately adoring them, but I know I’m safe calling them that. Although, of course, I adore them, too.”

The famously affable Attenborough had sworn off his 30-year acting career when he became a director, but Spielberg lured him back in front of the camera to play the entrepreneur John Hammond in the 1993 film of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. In the book, Hammond was a fiendish Frankenstein of capitalism, whose scientists had revived dinosaur species to stock his crackpot-genius idea of a prehistoric theme park. But Spielberg made Hammond a visionary with a kid’s reckless enthusiasm, and Attenborough portrayed him as a Santa Claus bringing kids presents — some of which want to eat their recipients. The following year, Attenborough was Kris Kringle in John Hughes’ remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

(READ: Corliss on Attenborough in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park)

Cheerful beneficence may have been a family legacy: Mary Clegg Attenborough had helped found the Marriage Guidance Council (now known as Relate), which dispensed sexual advice to those otherwise afraid of seeking it. Her husband Frederick was a don at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where Richard was born on Aug. 29, 1923. His youngest brother, John, who died in 2012, became an executive at Alfa Romeo; the middle brother is David Attenborough, the polymathic host-producer of BBC science series. Richard and David shared an infectious intellectual enthusiasm and the gift for clarifying, perhaps simplifying, big ideas. But Richard was no scholar. He entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (he would eventually serve as its president) and, when he joined the Royal Air Force, was soon assigned to its Film Unit, having suffered permanent ear damage during test flights.

The curious and salutary aspect of Attenborough’s distinguished acting career, during World War II and for several decades afterward, is that he often played flawed, shady or malevolent characters. He was the cowardly sailor in his 1942 film debut, Noël Coward and David Lean’s In Which We Serve, and the submarine seaman driven close to madness by claustrophobia in Morning Departure (1950). He used a British gunboat to smuggle wine and armaments in The Ship That Died of Shame (1955) and played an electronics expert who sold secrets to the Soviets in The League of Gentlemen (1960). The Attenborough smile may have crinkled into Saint Nick benevolence in his seventies, but early on it was the chummy rictus of a man intent on taking your watch, your wife or your life.

His most notorious and revered early role was as Pinkie Brown, the 17-year-old crime boss in Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock — first on the West End stage in 1944, when Attenborough was 20, then in John and Roy Boulting’s film version three years later. Running a small gang in seaside Brighton, Pinkie shoves one man to his death from a haunted-house ride, pushes another off an upstairs landing in his rooming house and scars the face of a third with the straight razor he loves to fondle. Pinkie gets his own cheek slashed by the rival Colleoni gang — sounds like Corleone — and marries the innocent waitress Rose (Carol Marsh) just to keep her quiet or kill her. At her request he makes a recording to memorialize their affair. As Rose gazes lovingly through the booth window, he says, “What you want me to say is I love you. Here’s the truth, I hate ya, ya little slut. Ya make me sick.” When the law closes in, Pinkie nearly persuades the girl to take her own life in what he calls “a suicide pax. That’s Latin for peace.”

Turning his smooth, boyish face into a soulless mask, and toying with a cat’s cradle of string like a killer’s rosary, suitable for strangling, Attenborough made Pinkie an indelible villain: the mobster as monster. “In those days,” he later recalled, “the character of Pinkie was a macabre novelty in British films. It was hard to understand how somebody like that would feel as he razor-slashed you, or as he told a girl to put a gun in her mouth to shoot herself. That is the kind of enormity I had to convey.” He did it brilliantly, without shouting invective or italicizing his evil. His glassy glance was a Medusa stare, its own mortal weapon.

Brighton Rock (named for a hard candy sold at the resort) was one of six films, in a wide range of tones, that Attenborough made for the Boulting twins. In the first, Journey Together in 1945, he’s an RAF cadet who must forsake his dream of piloting to become a navigator. In the 1948 The Guinea Pig (known as The Outsider in the U.S.), the 25-year-old convincingly played a 13-year-old working-class boy brought into a posh school as part of a social experiment. Later Boulting Brothers films cast Attenborough in his more familiar shifty persona, with harried upper-class twit Ian Carmichael as his comic foil. In Private Potter (1956) he steals artworks captured by the Germans to sell them on the black market. In Brothers in Law (1958) he plays a worldly-wise barrister with an eye for the ladies, and, in the corrosive satire I’m All Right Jack (1959), a scurvy businessman who wants to peddle missiles to the Arabs.

By his forties, Attenborough was a respected character actor with an adventurous taste in roles. He was the martinet who bends his own rules to save his men in Guns at Batasi (1964). He might be a henpecked husband, either standing by his domineering wife (in the 1964 Seance on a Wet Afternoon) or murdering her (The Dock Brief / Trial and Error, 1962). He was the practiced philanderer in the witty social comedies Only Two Can Play (1962) and A Severed Head (1971) and, most boldly, the serial killer John Christie — mousy of demeanor, ruthless of intent and execution — in 10 Rillington Place (1971). His Christie makes a perfect cinematic brother to the slick and just as sick Pinkie Brown.

But British films couldn’t contain Attenborough’s ambition. He broke into the Hollywood big time with the 1963 The Great Escape — he was Bartlett, the brains of the operation that sprang Steve McQueen, James Garner and the rest from a Nazi stalag — and parlayed that blockbuster into important roles as World War II officers opposite James Stewart in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) and McQueen again in The Sand Pebbles (1966). And then, having achieved international renown, he realized that what he really wanted to do was direct.

(READ: Corliss’s tribute to James Garner)

His first film as director was his most audacious: Oh! What a Lovely War, an adaptation of Joan Littlewood’s bleak synoptic history of the Great War set to the songs soldiers sang as they marched to their mass deaths. The battlefield would be the focus or backdrop for many Attenborough films: World War I in Young Winston (a Churchill bio-pic) and In Love and War (Ernest Hemingway on the front lines), World War II in A Bridge Too Far and his last feature Closing the Ring. He documented the struggle for independence in India with Gandhi and South Africa with Cry Freedom — solidly liberal films of the furrowed middle-brow that came to life with Attenborough’s inspired casting of the little-known Ben Kingsley as the Mahatma and the young Denzel Washington as Steve Biko.

Attenborough was carrying the epic torch brandished by David Lean, his first director, but without the spectacular visual acuity and understanding of obsessive personalities that elevated Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia to greatness. Lean was the movie poet, Attenborough the conscientious craftsman. And when deprived of Important Issues like war and death, he often stumbled. His film of A Chorus Line (1985) captured none of the original musical’s urgency; his 1992 Chaplin, despite an impressive performance by Robert Downey Jr., was a bloated catalogue of the silent clown’s misfortunes with young women. Only the 1993 Shadowlands, with Anthony Hopkins as writer C.S. Lewis and Debra Winger as the American poet he loves and tends through illness, found a pleasing balance of tone and emotional texture, of heart and ache.

(READ: Corliss on Debra Winger in in Attenborough’s Shadowlands)

No question, the man’s life was blessed and lucky. The Queen made him a knight in 1976 and a baron in 1993, which earned him a seat in the House of Lords (Labour, of course). And in 1952, as part of the original West end cast of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, he received a share of the profits of that play, still running in its 62nd year; he used what was left of that annuity to help finance Gandhi. But fate had some heartache in store. Attenborough’s elder daughter Jane, along with her daughter and mother-in-law, perished in the South Asian tsunami of Christmas 2004. Years later he said, “I can talk to people about Jane now, although sometimes I can’t get the words out. I can also see her. I can feel her touch. I can hear her coming into a room.”

Attenborough’s costar in The Mousetrap, and in The Guinea Pig, was Sheila Sim, his wife since 1945. In 2012, after being diagnosed with senile dementia, she took residence in Denville Hall, the actors’ home that she and her husband had helped establish. Attenborough, who had outlived a stroke and a coma in recent years but was severely incapacitated, moved into Denville Hall with his bride of 69 years.

Sim, now 92, survives Attenborough in the shadowlands. As for Lord Dickie, he may be charming a whole new stratum of celebrities. We imagine him rounding up a celestial cast for some new superproduction — but only if they want to. “Entirely up to you, darlings.”

TIME celebrity

Best Couple of the VMAs Was Celebrities and Their Smartphones

Stars: They're bored like us.

While some might say that the most touching moment of the VMAs was provided by Bey, Jay, and Blue Ivy, Rolling Stone provided compelling video evidence that a different relationship trumped all relationships on display during Sunday night’s show: Celebrities and their cell phones.

It turns out that we weren’t the only ones Tindering and tweeting to pass the time during the award show. The above video shows a compilation of celebrities being bored and checking Instagram. Or something.

While many celebrity smartphone moments went unnoticed, the Kardashians’ were publicly called out when MTV showed video of them on their phones during a moment of silence for Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month.

Although Buzzfeed notes the possibility that the moment was a poorly timed video delay rather than a real-time moment.

TIME celebrities

See Who Wore What at the 2014 VMAs

Including Katy Perry's "ode to Britney and Justin"


Dressing up is half the fun with any awards show, and the Video Music Awards are no exception. As always, big stars posed on the red carpet to show off their newest looks.

In their coverage of the event, People highlighted Taylor Swift’s choice of a Mary Katrantzou romper/unitard, and rapper Iggy Azalea’s cutout Atelier Versace gown. Meanwhile, Katy Perry’s floor-length denim dress was an “ode to Britney and Justin”–the same outfit that Britney Spears wore to the 2001 VMAs when she was still dating Justin Timberlake. Talk about a serious throwback.


TIME celebrities

Nicki Minaj Apparently Had Big Dreams as a Little Girl, But They Did Not Involve Rapping

Funny how life works out, isn't it?


Many young girls can only dream of the type of superstardom Nicki Minaj enjoys: fame, fortune, unlimited access to wigs, unlimited access to Drake, etc.

But before she was Nicki Minaj, she was Onika Maraj — just a normal girl attending P.S. 45 in Queens, New York. The video above, which surfaced on Reddit, shows young Onika discussing her hopes and dreams. And let us assure you: they do not involve wigs or Drake at all!

Instead, she says she aspires to be a nurse, so she can help people less fortunate than herself.

Real talk: there’s very little information about where this video comes from, but it sure seems like Nicki — even without that goofy Barbie voice.

TIME Music

Watch Charli XCX Get Rebellious in ‘Break the Rules’ Video

The British songstress has a new album coming in October


You already know Charli XCX from her verses on buzzy songs like Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” as well as for her Fault In Our Stars soundtrack cut “Boom Clap.” Now, the British alt-pop singer is setting out for solo stardom now with an upcoming album and a new music video for her latest single, “Break the Rules.”

Though Charli is solidly an adult (well, kinda — she’s 22), this clip takes us back to high school, where the singer leads a gaggle of pretty-but-rebellious girls in all kinds of badassery: vandalizing a schoolbus, dancing in/on that schoolbus, possibly cutting class to go lingerie shopping, crashing prom, and so on.

Props to Charli for making a video that doesn’t feature even a single person dancing around the streets of Brooklyn in a crop top.

Additional observations:

  • We love how British she sounds when she sings “dancing shoes.”
  • She appears to do the ice bucket challenge, but with paint (or possibly Pepto-Bismol?) instead of ice water.
  • Charli really likes outfits that feature fringe.
  • Why is she so obsessed with starring in high school-themed music videos?
  • Wait — Rose McGowan is in this video.
  • Charli and her clique go shopping at a lingerie store called Trashy.com. We checked — that’s a real website selling trashy costumes.
  • Dear God, this song is so catchy.


TIME Music

Let’s Go Crazy: Prince to Release Two New Albums In September

Prince performs onstage during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas.
Prince performs onstage during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas. Kevin Mazur—WireImage/Getty Images

He also returned to Warner Bros. after a protracted feud

The Purple One has been busy. After last night’s VMAs, Prince announced that he will be releasing not one, but two full albums of new music next month.

The first album, ART OFFICIAL AGE, is a classic Prince album featuring funky soulful new work by the musical icon, including single “Breakfast Can Wait”; the release will mark his 33rd studio album (and 37th overall). The other album, PLECTRUMELECTRUM, was made in collaboration with his new funk rock band, 3rdEyeGirl. Both albums will be released on September 30th.

The albums will both be released on Warner Bros. Records, which marks Prince’s return to the label who signed the artist way back in 1976 on the strength of a demo tape. The relationship lasted for 20 years, until 1996’s Chaos and Disorder. During his long feud with the label, he stopped using his name in favor of an unpronounceable symbol and rushed out mediocre albums to meet contractual obligations. Prince marked the end of his relationship with Warner Bros. with Emancipation, a three-hour, three-CD set of songs released on his own NPG Label.

The relationship between Warner and Prince was apparently salvaged when the label returned the master recordings of Prince’s early ’80s albums, including Dirty Mind, 1999, Purple Rain and Sign ‘O’ the Times to the artist. With that move, Prince’s NPG Music Publishing, which was launched in April, controls the majority of his publishing catalog.

The release of the two new albums will be accompanied by a series of “very special events taking place globally,” according to a news release. That means more shows and, as fans know, Prince’s live shows aren’t to be missed.

Both albums are available for pre-order now.

Track list for ART OFFICIAL AGE:

Warner Bros Records

1. Art Official Cage
2. Clouds
3. Breakdown
4. The Gold Standard
5. U Know
6. Breakfast Can Wait
7. This Could Be Us
8. What It Feels Like
9. Affirmation I & Ii
10. Way Back Home
11. Funknroll
12. Time
13. Affirmation Iii


Warner Bros Records

1. Wow
2. Pretzelbodylogic
3. Aintturninround
4. Plectrumelectrum
5. Whitecaps
6. Fixurlifeup
7. Boytrouble
8. Stopthistrain
9. Anotherlove
10. Tictactoe
11. Marz
12. Funknroll

MORE: The 2014 VMAs: The Good, The Bad, The Beyoncé

MORE: Beyoncé Performs Her Entire Album (Basically) in 20 Minutes

TIME celebrity

Blue Ivy Did Some Flawless Dancing During Beyoncé’s Performance at the VMAs

And then she helped Jay Z present Beyoncé with an award

Beyoncé may have performed her entire album (basically) in a totally show-stopping number at last night’s VMAs, but the real star was actually her daughter, Blue Ivy.

Perched on her daddy’s lap, Blue was seen rocking out during Queen Bey’s performance — but subtly rocking out, so as not to steal her mama’s thunder:

Here, she goes with some tasteful head-bobbing:

Blue was also spotted doing the famous “Single Ladies” dance. Check out this incredible GIF.

Oh, and then she went onstage to help Jay present Bey with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award (which is basically the VMAs version of a lifetime achievement award) and everything was cute and perfect:


TIME Television

RECAP: True Blood Series Finale: All’s Well That Ends

John P Johnson/HBO

Can a show about the undead really be over?

This is it. The final episode of the final season of True Blood. While we’ve all known that True Blood was ending this season, it seems like it’s both a long time coming and really sudden, but that duality makes perfect sense for a show that frequently (and increasingly) makes none at all. Seven seasons is a long time for a soapy show about vampires, shapeshifters, fairies and werewolves that dabbles in racy sex scenes; a show that delivers truly gruesome gore; a show that has no qualms about killing off main characters and appears intent on skipping off into the sunset with ears plugged singing La-La-La-La-La-We-Can’t-Hear-You while fans shake their heads in confusion. The end was a long time coming, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sad to think that Sunday nights no longer have make it possible to watch Jason Stackhouse-Eric Northamn sex scenes (except in fantasies, of course), listen to one of Lafayette’s snappy comebacks, or see Russell Edgington rip out the spinal cord of a news reporter just because he can. It’s time to let True Blood reach the True Death it’s earned..

Here’s what happened on the final episode of True Blood:

Bill shows up on Sookie’s door step to remind her that he knows what’s best for her. He tells her that she deserves everything, which in Bill’s Civil War-era-meets-1950s brain means having babies and grandbabies and then dying. Sookie asks the obvious question: “Why don’t you just dump me, you big dummy?” But he can’t quit her, so he must die for her own good. Bill loves her too much to live and she loves him too much to make her own choices with her own mind about her own life, because being a girl is hard and a man has to do all the hard thinking for her. Always one to make a bad situation worse, Bill asks her to use her fairy powers to zap him into the True Death, because it’s what’s best for her. She asks him to leave, but he convinces her to think about it and at this point, everyone is probably hoping that she does kill him, but just because he sucks. Figuratively — not just in the literal vampiric way.

Over at Fangtasia, Eric has a plan. He’s going to kill Gus, steal the cure, market New Blood and make no apologies. Pam is very much down with the plan (which they could have come up with three episodes ago). They force feed Sarah some of Pam’s blood, unchain her and set her free, knowing that Pam will be able to find her anywhere in the world with the magical vampire locator device that is their blood. Then they quickly dispatch with the Yakuza, blow Gus to smithereens in a fireball and wipe out the hit squad sent to Sookie’s house. Easy peasy.

Back at the Compton homestead, Jessica brings Hoyt home to re-meet Bill. She reminds Bill that she doesn’t want him to die or anything, but promises that she will survive. Bill hugs her and tells her that was just what he needed to hear. Then Bill awkwardly asks Hoyt if he has plans to ask Jessica to marry him and Jessica murders Bill. The End.

Fine, not the end. Hoyt chirpily agrees that heck yeah-and-aw-shucks he does want to marry Jess (the girl he just re-met yesterday). Jessica drags Bill into the other room and reminds him that not only is she a vampire, but she is also a girl and she has wedding day dreams that don’t involve her dying maker coercing her very new boyfriend into proposing. Bill explains that his death wish is to give Jessica away at her wedding. Is this really happening? Is the show really going out with a wedding? Apparently so. Jessica goes to tell Hoyt that they are getting hitched, so Bill can play the big patriarch and walk her down the aisle.

Meanwhile, Sookie is contemplating Bill’s assisted suicide. She’s also thinking back to the past when she and Tara were just sprouts caught in a rainstorm and Gram made them hot cocoa and reminded the young ladies that they can get married and have children if they want to, even if they are mind-readers and eventual vampires. Gram asks Tara to hold Sookie to that. Sookies heads to Jason’s house to talk, and is surprised to find Bridget there. Bridget assures her that they didn’t sleep together and Sookie reads her mind and finds out it’s true and discovers that Bridget is really sweet on Jason. Sookie wakes up Jason, not for advice, because bless him, Jason is not someone you go to for life advice even if he is one of the last humans in your town. She tells him about how Bill wants her to kill him and Jason takes the news surprisingly well. Their conversation is interrupted by phone calls from Hoyt and Jessica wanting to know if a) Jason will be his best man (even though Hoyt punched him out yesterday) and b) Jessica can borrow a wedding dress.

Fast forward a few hours and it’s a wedding! Arlene and Holly show up with Sheriff Andy, who apparently has completely forgiven Jessica for murdering his daughters. Bill calls Sheriff Andy into his office and reminds him that he’s his last living heir and since he can’t leave his estate to Jessica, he is thus leaving it to Andy. Andy balks at all of it, but Bill talks him through it: Take the house, rent it to Jessica and Hoyt for a dollar and if they forget to pay, let it slide. Forever. With a solemn, “copy that, Vampire Bill, consider it done,” it is done.

Then, it’s wedding time! Bill gets play old-timey patriarch and walk his vampire daughter down the aisle.. At the impromptu altar, Jessica kindly makes sure Hoyt still wants to get hitched. He assures her that he’s all in and Sheriff Andy gets to marrying them. While the ceremony goes on, Sookie realizes that she can suddenly read Bill’s mind, which apparently runs on a loop of, “Ow, everything hurts. I love Sookie. I love Jessica. Ow.” With no rings and no vows, the ceremony is rapid-fire, which is good because Bill is dying more quickly than expected.

Sookie heads to church to talk to the preacher about his thoughts on assisted suicide and whether God made them all — shapeshifters, vampires, mind reading fairies — or if some of them are just mistakes. The pastor assures her that God loves all his creatures, big or small, vampire or human. Then he tells Sookie that he believes God gave everyone free will to make their own choices, which was enough for Sookie to decide to kill Bill after she helps the preacher with his sermon. She calls Bill from the parking lot and tells him to meet her at the cemetery.

Sookie dresses for a funeral and meets Bill by his empty grave. She still doesn’t want to do it, but he assures her that much like Quaker Oats, it’s the right thing to do. He peels her arms away from his neck and stares into her eyes to say, “Thank you” all the while knowing that he made the choice for her. He climbs into the grave and opens his Civil War era coffin to find a photo of him and his daughter. Sookie suggests he quit reminiscing and get into his coffin so she can kill him already, promising that she’ll never forget him. He shrugs that he can’t say the same thing, because he doesn’t know what happens next (and he magically always knows the wrong thing to say). As he lies down in the coffin, Sookie pulls up a giant fairy fireball of death and prepares to throw it at him. But then she realizes something: Bill is asking too much. She stares at the fireball awhile and realizes that she can’t let it go, not because she doesn’t want Bill to die, but because one fireball will vanquish her fairy powers — including mind reading — forever. She won’t waste that on him, which is the bravest act of free will yet. She apologizes to Bill and offers to kill him with a stake instead. He’s cool with that, because God forbid he just greet the sunrise like Godric or anything when he can boss around Sookie instead. She climbs into the grave, kisses him on the forehead and puts the stake over his heart. Obviously she can’t do it alone, so he does it for her. The stake goes in and he explodes leaving Sookie stewing in Bill soup and crying with nothing but gore to dry her tears. She climbs out of the grave, covers the coffin and weeps for Vampire Bill. Sookie walks home looking like Carrie post-bucket of blood, but with her head held high. It’s just too bad that Bill couldn’t kill himself before Alcide died, so Sookie could go home and curl up next to that.

Flash forward to a year later when Eric and Pam are making an infomercial for New Blood, pitching it to the masses with the tagline “By vampires, for vampires.” Fast forward another three years and Eric and Pam are opening the New York Stock Exchange. Cut to Fangtasia, which is jumping again under the watchful eyes of a grim looking Eric. In the basement, Pam is taking cash from a steady stream of vamps interested in sucking the blood straight from Sarah Newlin, who is haunted by the ghost of her ex-husband.

It’s Thanksgiving day and Jason and Bridget are married with three children. Sookie is pregnant, and because this is the 1950s, that’s all we need to see to know that she is happy. Sam is back with Nicole and their daughter and a new baby. Holly, Sheriff Andy, Arlene and her vampire, Lafayette is still with James, Jessica and Hoyt are happy and everyone is there to celebrate together and laissez Bon Temps roulez ever onwards.

MORE: Lena Dunham Teases World With Shortest Girls Season 4 Clip Ever

MORE: Outlander Recap: Claire Discovers the Folkloric Key to Her Escape

TIME Television

Winnie Holzman: My So-Called Life‘s Angela Chase Would Have Been a CIA Agent

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 25: MY SO-CALLED LIFE - gallery - 8/25/94, Claire Danes (second from right) played Angela Chase, a 15-year-old who wanted to break out of the mold as a strait-laced teen-ager and straight-A student. Pictured, left to right: Jason Leto (Jordan Catalano), A.J. Langer (Rayanne Graff), Wilson Cruz (Rickie Vasquez), Lisa Wilhoit (Danielle Chase), Devon Odessa (Sharon Cherski), Claire Danes (Angela Chase), Devon Gummersall (Brian Krakow), (Photo by Mark Seliger/ABC via Getty Images) Mark Seliger—ABC via Getty Images

On the 20th anniversary of the cult classic My So Called Life, the show's creator talks about what could have been

If it weren’t for Winnie Holzman, pop culture might be a very different place. Claire Danes might not have been discovered; gay teenagers might not have made it onto TV; we may never have known the glory of Jared Leto’s incredible long flowing hair.

It all originated with the beloved hourlong drama My So-Called Life, which aired for a painfully brief single season back in 1994 and has picked up troves of fans in the 20 years since it aired.

While we’ll never know if Angela gave Brian Krakow a chance, we do have the scoop on which way the show would have gone. Holzman, who says she created the show because she wanted to be honest about what teenage life is, spoke with TIME about Angela’s future and if the show could have been saved in a social media era.

TIME: Did you know My So-Called Life would stay relevant to audiences for this long?

Winnie Holzman: It’s very easy to say to yourself, well, how am I going to be relevant? How am I going to connect to people? Rather than focus on that, I tried to focus on the idea that if you’re being honest and you’re being authentic about your own experience, then you have a real opportunity to connect with others. The show had a life of its own and a destiny of its own, which was so rewarding because when we were making the show, we could feel that it had a power. When it was canceled so early and then had this thing of coming back and having this life, that’s something that you don’t see every day. That’s something that’s very precious.

Your daughter, Savannah Dooley, has been very open about what the show means to her. How did that happen?

At first, the show was my place of work, and she would come and get to know the actors and play hide-and-seek on set. There was a beautiful transition where she did discover the show. What’s interesting is that she’s a lesbian, and I think it was very meaningful that even before she completely understood that she was gay, she knew I had created this gay character — this beautiful kind of coincidence.

Are you still in touch with the cast?

I’m still friends with Claire, which is one of the most treasured relationships in my life. She means a great deal to me as a person, and we’re so close in so many ways.

What would have happened to the characters if the show hadn’t been canceled?

There were thoughts I had, and I would have done some version of them. I wanted somebody to get pregnant — that probably would have been Sharon. I was also picturing something that had to do with Patti becoming depressed over the ending of her marriage. I was picturing Angela stepping into a leadership role where she really had to become almost the designated adult. So again, it’s all so theoretical and it remains that. Claire and I joke that she would have gone and become an agent in the CIA!

Do you think the show could have been saved if social media were around when it was canceled?

The Internet had been invented, like, 5 minutes before the show aired. At the time there was a huge push. I don’t know that it really would have made any difference, because it was the network and their needs and how they viewed the show.

What are you watching now?

Well, I really love Orange Is the New Black. I know Jenji [Kohan] a little bit as a colleague, and I think that the show is incredible. It’s a show that I fiercely admire.

My So-Called Life is available to stream on Hulu.

TIME Music

Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj Just Dropped Their ‘Bang Bang’ Video

The trio team up for a brand-new clip after their VMAs performance


The divas just performed this track at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, but Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj decided to give viewers a second look by dropping their “Bang Bang” music video the same night. The late entry to the annual song of the summer debate gets an appropriately sweaty video treatment, which finds Jessie belting from fire escapes, Ariana prepping for a night out and Nicki crashing the party via helicopter, presumably arriving from whatever tropical paradise she shot the “Anaconda” video in. Fortunately for her, there are no wardrobe malfunctions involved.

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