TIME film

Steve McQueen to Make Paul Robeson Biopic

Paul Robeson planned
Oscar winner Steve McQueen, who is planning a film about the life of American singer and actor Paul Robeson. Issue date: Wednesday November 19, 2014. Ian West—PA Wire/Press Association Images

The acclaimed filmmaker of 12 Years a Slave also announced a film version of the UK TV series "Widows"

Director Steve McQueen has announced he is working on a biopic about American actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

“His life and legacy was the film I wanted to make the second after Hunger” McQueen said on stage at the Hidden Heroes awards in New York. Hunger was his debut film about an IRA hunger striker. “But I didn’t have the power, I didn’t have the juice,” he said.

The son of an escaped slave, Robeson led an extraordinary life as a lawyer, actor, singer and activist who supported causes such as the Republican in the Spanish Civil War and unemployed Welsh miners. Harry Belafonte is involved in production of the movie, the Guardian reports.

Though the Robeson picture is in the works, McQueen revealed that his next film after the breakout success of his 12 Years a Slave will be a full-length adaptation of the British television series “Widows,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Read more at the Guardian

TIME beauty

Reese Witherspoon Sticks Up For Renee Zellweger After Face-Shaming

Actress Reese Witherspoon attends the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood.
Actress Reese Witherspoon attends the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood. David Livingston—Getty Images

Calls sniping "cruel"

Reese Witherspoon is very disappointed in everyone who participated in the kerfuffle over Renee Zellweger’s face.

In the The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual actress round-table with Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Amy Adams, Hilary Swank, Patricia Arquette and Felicity Jones, the conversation turned to Renee Zellweger’s face-shaming last month. Witherspoon stuck up for Zellweger:

It’s horrible. It’s cruel and rude and disrespectful, and I can go on and on and on. It bothers me immensely…I know this is so Pollyanna of me, but why — and it’s particularly women — why do they have to tear women down? And why do we have to tear other women down to build another woman up? It drives me crazy. Like, this one looks great without her makeup but that one doesn’t look good without her makeup, and it’s all just a judgment and assault that I don’t — look, men are prey to it as well. I just don’t think it’s with the same sort of ferocity.

Later in the interview, when she was asked if there was a contemporary woman she wanted to play, Witherspoon said, “Beyonce.”

[THR]

TIME Hollywood

Jennifer Lawrence Cut Her Cameo in Dumb and Dumber To

UK - Hunger Games MOCKINGJAY Premiere - London
Jennifer Lawrence at the Hunger Games Premiere at Leicester Square in London on Nov. 10, 2014. Caron Westbrook—Corbis

She used her veto power

Some J-Law fans may have to cancel their weekend movie plans—the actress reportedly cut her cameo in Dumb and Dumber To.

The actress had filmed scenes as the younger version of Kathleen Turner’s Fraida Felcher, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, she didn’t like her cameo and vetoed the scenes before the final cut.

The directors of the movie and Lawrence’s camp deny the claim. Dumb and Dumber To is set to be released on November 14.

TIME movies

A Man Watching Mr Turner Got Maced For Asking a Woman To Turn Off Her Phone

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Grauman's (TCL) Chinese Theater at dawn, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA Danita Delimont—Getty Images/Gallo Images

An eyewitness at the theater says the woman "flipped out" when he tapped her on the shoulder

A man at a California movie theater who asked a woman to switch off her cellphone got far more than he bargained for after she sprayed mace in his eyes, Mashable reports.

The incident, according to an eyewitness who was sitting nearby, took place at a Monday night screening of the recently released film Mr. Turner.

The film had just begun at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theater when a man sitting in the back row began requesting the woman in front of him to switch off her glowing phone.

When he tapped her on the shoulder after being ignored a few times, the witness said she “flipped out,” accused the man of hitting her and threatened to call the police. Without warning, she then uncapped a bottle of mace and sprayed the man.

Mashable reports that the woman sat back down and watched 20 minutes of the movie before security came and escorted her out.

[Mashable]

TIME photography

Veronica Lake: Movie Star, Hollywood Rebel, ‘Sex Zombie’

Her life was not destined for a storybook ending, but Veronica Lake left behind at least a few films -- and a unique persona -- that endure.

Veronica Lake, a femme fatale icon of 1940s Hollywood noir, was born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman on Nov. 14, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. Small in stature — she was less than five feet tall — the platinum blonde with the distinctive peek-a-boo haircut was a huge screen presence and box-office staple during the war years. Often paired with Alan Ladd (at just 5′ 6″, Ladd was another famously short movie star), Lake brought to the screen an air of mystery, contained sensuality and quiet wit that lit up the screen. But, as she herself said, she just wasn’t cut out to be a movie star — at least not as Hollywood in the Forties envisioned that role — and her later life was marked by broken marriages, addiction and illness.

Lake herself, meanwhile, was always self-deprecating when it come not only to her stardom, but her acting chops. “You could put all the talent I had into your left eye and still not suffer from impaired vision,” she reportedly said of her film career, while also once claiming that she was not a sex symbol, but a “sex zombie.”

“That really names me properly,” she once said. “I never took that [sex goddess] stuff seriously.” Moviegoers, on the other hand, were drawn to Lake’s films in droves, attracted, in large part, by the enigmatic mix of playful eroticism and aloofness that defined many of her best performances and biggest hits — dramas like The Blue Dahlia and The Glass Key and Preston Sturges’ classic comedy, Sullivan’s Travels.

Lake largely disappeared from the big screen after the 1940s, working mainly in TV and on the stage in the 1950s and ’60s. Mental illness and alcohol took their toll. She was married four times and had four children, but when she died in Burlington, Vt., from hepatitis and kidney injury at just 50 years old in July 1973, only one of her kids and none of her exes bothered to attend her memorial service in New York. (She was, later in life, notoriously prickly and by all accounts was neither a loyal spouse nor an especially good mother.)

For a while there in the 1940s, however, Veronica Lake — “sex zombie” or not — was the sort of star that Hollywood doesn’t seem to produce anymore. Smoldering. Inscrutable. Suspicious of her own fame, yet somehow innately, deeply alluring. Her influence, four decades after her death, is still felt. (Kim Basinger’s Oscar-winning turn in L.A. Confidential, of course, was as a prostitute coiffed and dressed to resemble Lake, while none other than Jessica Rabbit was something of a red-haired, more voluptuous Veronica.)

Lake’s life was not destined for a storybook ending, but she left behind at least a few films — and created a unique persona — that endure.

In the long history of the movies, how many stars can honestly say the same?

[See all of LIFE's galleries]

[Read EW’s review of the 1942 Lake comedy, I Married a Witch]

TIME Icons

LIFE With Brando: Early Photos of a Legend in the Making

Photos -- most of which never ran in LIFE magazine -- of an electrifying young actor on the brink of stardom

The year was 1949, and 25-year-old Marlon Brando — “the brilliant brat,” as LIFE magazine called him following his astonishing work on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire — had finally answered the call of Hollywood. He was preparing for his movie debut in The Men, the wrenching story of a paralyzed World War II vet coping with rage and insecurity. And while it’s true that Los Angeles was familiar with “Next Big Thing” newcomers, it was (and, to some extent, still is) exceedingly rare to document the earliest days in the career of an actor of Brando’s intensity, quirkiness and electrifying talent.

Photographer Ed Clark captured Brando’s explosive arrival in California, chronicling the actor as he submerged himself in “The Method” — e.g., taking to a wheelchair and struggling with leg braces while living among paraplegics at a VA hospital in Van Nuys. But Clark also came away with surprising glimpses into the more personal, private Brando.

Here, on the 10th anniversary of Brando’s death (the Omaha, Neb., native died on July 1, 2004, in Los Angeles), LIFE.com presents a number of Clark’s photos — most of which were never published in LIFE — at a time when the actor was just beginning to forge his own Hollywood legend.

Accompanying Ed Clark’s images in LIFE’s archives were meticulous notes about Brando written by Theodore Strauss, who would ultimately write the magazine’s 1950 profile that coincided with the release of The Men. Strauss details the actor’s every eccentricity: what he wore, how he ate, what he read, how he shunned any sort of red carpet that might have been laid out for him when he came to town.

“Stanley Kramer, producer of The Men, had intended on putting Brando in a good hotel, but Brando would have none of it,” Strauss wrote. “First of all he insisted on living with the paraplegics in Birmingham Veterans Hospital during the four weeks before production began. This, he felt, was necessary to giving a completely knowledgeable and valid performance in his role. He was given a bed in a 32-bed ward, where he was treated almost like any other patient.”

The actor’s reputation as a bad boy had preceded him, stories of his nose-picking, shabby dress, foul language and grumbling interviews having traveled all the way from New York to Los Angeles. But, LIFE wrote, “however infantile or irresponsible Brando may be in his personal life, he is a totally conscientious artist in his work. Unlike some of Hollywood’s pretty people, he was never late on the set, never indulged in a tantrum, never required endless retakes.”

He was also far more of an introvert, in some ways, than his reputation suggested. Brando, wrote Strauss, “reads everything, absolutely omnivorous — from Krishnamurti to recent novels.” For the actor, it was all about the craft — nothing else, even life’s essentials, seemed to matter. From LIFE’s profile: “His salary, for the soundest of reasons, has been sent to his father, Marlon Brando Sr., who invests the money in cattle on a Midwestern ranch called Penny Poke. Each week Brando receives a living allowance of $150. Because he rarely looks at money and sometimes pays for a package of cigarets with a $20 bill, he usually is penniless by the second day.”

Of his relationship with the real paraplegics and quadriplegics from whom he was learning for his role, Strauss noted that “Brando’s orientation and adjustment as a paraplegic was so complete that he participated in their sometimes gruesome horseplay with complete freedom — one of the reasons why he was so completely accepted. [Pranks] include pillow fights and using hypodermic syringes for water pistols.”

From Strauss’ notes about Hollywood’s reaction to Brando: “Thus far no one has accused him of posing; everyone to whom we’ve spoken has a sort of confused respect for a man who, up to now, has managed to live as he feels, without caring a hoot what anyone thinks.”

In his personal style, meanwhile, the actor was unfussy and unpretentious, almost to a fault: “When Brando first arrived in Hollywood his only luggage was a battered, imitation-leather suitcase the size of a woman’s overnight bag,” Strauss observed. “He was wearing a blue worsted suit which had seen much wear and weather — there were holes and tears in the jacket, and a part of Brando was visible through the seat of the pants.”

Once official production on The Men began, Brando moved out of the veterans hospital and into a small bungalow owned by his aunt, Betty Lindemeyer, in Eagle Rock, Calif. During this period Brando’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Myers, was also a house guest.

“She [his grandmother] was quite abashed because Ed Clark took pictures of Marlon in a bathrobe, which happens to be hers,” reported a production assistant in notes found in LIFE’s archives. Grandma Myers was also apologetic about the barbaric way her grandson ate: “Bud doesn’t bring the food to his face,” she told LIFE, using Brando’s nickname. “He brings his face to the food.”

“I do hope that Bud comes through all this without too much scandal,” she confided to LIFE at one point. “I love him more than anything on this earth, but I never know when I’m going to hear from him in San Quentin.”

TIME Icons

LIFE With Steve McQueen: Photos of the King of Cool in 1963

Photos of the legendary Steve McQueen riding motorcycles, camping, working out and shooting guns in the desert with his wife in 1963.

In the spring of 1963, already popular from his big-screen breakout as one of The Magnificent Seven and just a couple months away from entering the Badass Hall of Fame with the release of The Great Escape, Steve McQueen was on the brink of superstardom.

Intrigued by his dramatic backstory and his off-screen exploits — McQueen was a reformed delinquent who got his thrills racing cars and motorcycles — LIFE sent photographer John Dominis to California to hang out with the 33-year-old actor and, in effect, see what he could get.

[Below: In a video exclusive, McQueen’s ex-wife, Neile Adams, shares her memories of the ups and downs of their intense 16-year marriage.]

Three weeks and more than 40 rolls of film later, Dominis had captured some astonishing images — photos impossible to imagine in today’s utterly restricted-access celebrity universe. Here, LIFE.com presents a series of pictures — most of which never ran in LIFE — from what Dominis would look back on as one of his favorite assignments, along with insights about the time he spent with the man who would soon don the mantle, “the King of Cool.”

Trailing Steve McQueen was Dominis’ first Hollywood gig. “I liked the movies, but I didn’t know who the stars were; I was not a movie buff,” Dominis told LIFE.com. But he got the assignment because he and McQueen shared one vital passion: car racing.

“When I was living in Hong Kong I had a sports car and I raced it,” Dominis says. “And I knew that Steve McQueen had a racing car. I rented one, anticipating that we might do something with them. He was in a motorcycle race out in the desert, so I went out there in my car and met him, and I ask him, ‘You wanna try my car?’”

Later the two of them would zip around Los Angeles together. “We went pretty fast — as fast as you can safely go without getting arrested — and we’d ride and then stop and trade cars. He liked that, and I knew he liked it. I guess that was the first thing that softened him.”

From early morning until late at night, Dominis followed McQueen through his action-packed days: camping with his buddies, racing his various vehicles, playing with his family, tooling around Hollywood. Even back then, Dominis says, he had to be mindful that his constant presence did not become irritating.

“Movie stars, they weren’t used to giving up a lot of time,” he says. “But I sort of relaxed in the beginning and didn’t bother them every time they turned around, and they began to get used to me being there.

In 1963 McQueen had been married to Neile Adams for seven years (they had two young children) but the spark between them was still very much alive. “They were always necking!” says Dominis, who also remarked upon their childlike way with each other in notes he filed for LIFE’s editors back in ’63: “They chase each other around,” he wrote, “as though it were going out of style.”

“With strangers, I can’t breathe,” McQueen told LIFE. “But I dig my old lady.”

“I was very surprised” when Steve and Neile divorced in 1972, Dominis says. “But I lived in New York, and I never saw them [after the shoot was over]. We weren’t real friends, but we were friendly. They liked me, and they had a silver mug made: ‘To John Dominis, for work beyond the call of duty.’ I’ve still got it today.”

At the beginning of the LIFE shoot, McQueen participated in a 500-mile, two-day dirt bike race across the Mojave Desert.

“These people are not the wild motorcycle bums who go roaring through town a la Brando [in The Wild One],” wrote Dominis in his notes. “Rather they comprise doctors, lawyers, businessmen, mechanics, and others who enjoy the competition and the open country.”

Not only was he one of the few competitors to complete the race, LIFE reported, but he also led his amateur class for most of the way, until his bike broke down three miles from the finish.

“He liked camping, he liked rugged things, he liked firing a gun,” says Dominis. (“I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth,” he told LIFE.)

He also very much liked his cigarettes: Like many Hollywood stars of the time, McQueen was an unapologetically heavy smoker, and did not break the habit until he became sick in the late ’70s.

Seventeen years after Dominis made these photos, the actor was dead at just 50 years old, suffering a heart attack following a risky operation to remove the cancerous tumors laying waste to his body. Though Dominis never saw or spoke with McQueen after 1963, he continued to follow his movies, and cherished those three weeks they got to know each other.

“He was very open and playful,” says Dominis, “and just doing the things that he loved to do.”

TIME

Burger, She Ate: A Portrait of Angela Lansbury at Lunch

Even when simply eating a pedestrian lunch in a studio cafeteria, Angela Lansbury somehow made it look quite remarkably dramatic.

At this point, what is anyone supposed to write or say about Angela Lansbury that hasn’t been written or said already? She has been working steadily, on stage, in film and on television, for seven decades. She has won Tonys (five); Golden Globes (six); an honorary Oscar; the National Medal of Arts; a Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award; and countless other laurels.

She was nominated for Academy Awards for two of her first three screen roles (in Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray), and has appeared in more classic films and plays than . . . well, than almost anyone alive.

Incredibly, she has also been nominated 18 times for an Emmy—a dozen of those for her performance as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrotewithout a single win. Eighteen times! Take that, Susan Lucci.

Oh, and she’s also a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. And she’s still working, having starred in celebrated stage productions in each of the past three years.

Here, on Dame Angela’s 89th birthday—because we’ve run out of superlatives with which to describe her career—LIFE.com presents a picture of her eating a hamburger. As the full caption to the photo notes, it’s a picture of “actress Angela Lansbury clad in costume for her role in the movie, The Court Jester, eating a hamburger with actor Basil Rathbone while sitting at lunch in the large Paramount Studio commissary during a day of filming.”

What we love about this picture is that, even when eating a pedestrian lunch in a studio cafeteria, she somehow makes it look quite remarkably dramatic.

Happy birthday, Ms. Lansbury. May you tread the boards for years to come.

 

TIME beauty

Julia Roberts: In Hollywood, Not Getting Plastic Surgery Is a ‘Big Risk’

Star speaks out about Hollywood pressures

On the heels of the brouhaha surrounding Renee Zellweger’s new, more youthful look, Julia Roberts said in an interview that for older women in Hollywood, not getting a plastic surgery touchup is a “big risk.”

“By Hollywood standards, I guess I’ve already taken a big risk in not having had a facelift, but I’ve told Lancome that I want to be an aging model – so they have to keep me for at least five more years until I’m over 50,” the Pretty Woman star told Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine. (Though from the outraged reaction to changes in Zellweger’s face and accusations that she got drastic plastic surgery, it’s just as risky to look too young.)

The 47-year old mother of three said that when she’s not on set, she rarely worries about how she looks. “Mornings are a high-humor scene. You just have to make sure everyone looks and smells clean. That’s all that matters. If I actually manage to get my teeth brushed and lip balm on, I’m good.”

She also notes that her success as a movie star means she doesn’t have to worry about some of the things other working moms have to deal with. “I often think about the reality of my life versus a mother who, say, lives in Kansas City and is struggling to pick up the kids when she gets off work, or who doesn’t get to choose not to go to work because she wants to stay at home with the kids.”

“Those mothers are my real-life heroes, and they include my girlfriends, who do this with joy and grace and with full-time jobs. I don’t have to worry about it and I’m grateful for that.”

Roberts, who won a Best Actress Oscar for Erin Brockovich in 2001, lives with her family in New Mexico when she’s not filming in Hollywood.

[The Telegraph]

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