Sunday, November 23, 2008

Star Highlights

This week was a most exciting week for the RSAMD. We had two very important visitors. Lord Richard Attenborough was on the scene as was James McAvoy.

If you don’t know who Richard Attenborough is then go to IMDB and Wikipedia right this second. He is HUGE people HUGE. He is a legend of stage and screen. You may have seen him in Guns at Batasi, The Sand Pebble, Doctor Dolittle with Rex Harrison, the Jurassic Park films, the remake of Miracle on 34th Street or Elizabeth to name a very few. Behind the camera he has both produced and directed. His directorial debut was the musical Oh! What a Lovely War. Also to his credit, Gandhi for which he won the Oscar in 1982, the film version of A Chorus Line, Cry Freedom and Chaplin amongst others. The school sponsored an “Inside the Actor’s Studio” type filmed interview but our version of James Lipton was easy going. There was time for a little Q & A. There was a man who actually pitched Attenborough a film project during the Q & A. It was very inappropriate but amusing. Not the time or place mister. No. But Attenborough was most gracious about it. Listening to Attenborough was amazing. His stories and experiences are unmatchable. He talked about the industry and the craft of acting but he also gave us many personal stories. He talked openly about the death of his daughter and grand-daughter. He talked about how his hearing was severely damaged during World War II. He talked about his adopted sisters who came to England on the Kindertransport and lost their parents to a concentration camp. He talked about his friendship with Nelson Mandela. It was an inspirational afternoon. We were in the presence of greatness but we felt like we were listening to grandpa tells us some stories of days gone by. Later that evening there was a graduation and honors ceremony and the RSAMD presented Lord Attenborough with an Honorary Doctorate of Drama. Well deserved and well done!

The younger generation of stars was also represented on Thursday. Film star James McAvoy was on hand to receive a fellowship from the Academy. McAvoy graduated from the RSAMD in 2000 after successfully completing the three year undergraduate acting course. He has gone on to star in such films as Atonement, The Last King of Scotland and Wanted. He was a regular on British Television before Hollywood came knocking. McAvoy was instrumental in campaigning for funding when the RSAMD faced budget cuts earlier this year. This week he spent some time with the students as well. McAvoy guest lectured in the 2nd year actors’ film and television class and he also had an informal Q & A with all of us in the drama school. He talked about his experience at the RSAMD and how his life and career evolved after graduation. He gave us anecdotes from some of the various situations he’s encountered while navigating film sets and the industry as a whole. He was delightful; very grounded and real. I didn’t feel I was in the presence of a “celebrity”. I felt a working actor was telling us what it can be like out there; what he’s seen and experienced. It was a lovely morning with James McAvoy.

All and all I’d have to say Thursday was a good day. I mean, WOW! The rest of the week went well too. But Thursday was kinda the highlight. Don’t you think?

No star filled encounters are expected in the coming week. But we do present our scenes to the faculty on Friday! Showtime kids!! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Be safe my friends!


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