In honor of Eddie Murphy’s new release, “Imagine That,” Father’s Day, and the two best dads I know, my own dear father and my darling husband, here’s a list of great movie dads and daughters.
1. A Little Princess I love all the film versions of the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett about the girl who is mistreated by her school headmistress after the death of her adored father but holds on to her dignity, her integrity, and her imagination. The BBC miniseries is the most authentic, but the 1995 film directed by Alfonso CuarÃ³n is beautifully done.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) is not just a dedicated lawyer and a crack shot, he is one of the best fathers in movie history. Listen to the way he gently explains the importance of courtesy to his daughter and the look on his face as he watches her to make sure she understands.
3. “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” Edward G. Robinson took a break from his usual tough guy roles to play the loving father of a little girl (Margaret O’Brien) in this gentle story of a Norwegian immigrant farm family living in Wisconsin. The movie is based on a book inspired by the childhood of the author’s wife.
4. Father of the Bride The original has Spencer Tracy as the disconcerted, sometimes choleric, but always devoted father of radiant bride-to-be Elizabeth Taylor.
5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn The mother is the strong one in this story, based on the life of author Betty Smith, but her most precious relationship is with her father (Oscar-winner James Dunn), a weak man in some ways but one whose belief in his daughter never wavered.
6. Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls Tyler Perry’s best film is this story about a loving father (Idris Elba) fighting for custody of his daughters.
7. Paper Moon Real-life father-daughter team Ryan and Tatum O’Neal played two con artists in this classic Depression-era comedy/drama.
8. Love in the Afternoon Grown-up daughters need their fathers, too, and in this Parisian romance Audrey Hepburn plays the daughter of a private investigator (Maurice Chevalier), who knows more than he would like to about the dangers of romantic entanglements.
9. Monsoon Wedding At the heart of a multiple-storyline saga centering on a big wedding, the bride’s father (Naseeruddin Shah) must make a painful decision.
10. The Game Plan Duane “The Rock” Johnson plays a pro quarterback who finds out that he is the father of a little girl and that he has a lot to learn about little girls, about parenting, and about what really matters.
Fans throughout the world mourn the loss of David Carradine. The son of actor John Carradine (“The Grapes of Wrath”), he first achieved success as the star of the television series “Kung Fu,” where he played a mysterious Western character who had been trained in the then-obscure Chinese method of combat. He is probably best remembered now as the title character in Quentin Taratino’s two “Kill Bill” movies.
My friend Adam Bernstein wrote about Carradine’s legacy in the Washington Post. And my friend Mike Clark reminded me of Carradine’s best performance in the 1976 biography of Woody Guthrie, “Bound for Glory.”
In “Downloading Nancy,” British actor Rufus Sewell plays the husband of a troubled woman (Maria Bello) who develops a tragic relationship with a man she met online (Jason Patric). Sewell often appears as smoldering, brooding characters and is perhaps most widely known in the U.S. for being the guy who treated Kate Winslet so badly in “The Holiday.”
If I were the casting director for this film, I think I might have asked you to play the other leading male role, the one played by Jason Patric.
And I’d have turned you down! I consider it’s my job to find what casting directors wouldn’t think of me for. People tend to think of me for the same thing but I’m not a type and it would be the wrong kind of type-casting based on parts I’ve played before. That is something I’m just bored with, but it is only in films that would make it across the pond. Here I’ve played a very wide range of characters and feeling comfortable doing so. The character in this film is very far away from what people consider me to be like. In many ways all of the characters are hard to get into the perspective of. People might not like him or empathize with him, but I could relate to him and feel sorry for his predicament.
Do you have to be able to have that kind of empathy with your character?
I could even say I didn’t like him but you absolutely need to be able to see through their eyes. You might think he’s making the wrong judgment, but he was not equipped to deal with the situation.
The reason I didn’t feel he was a bad guy is that all of the characters are damaged. The way I could see myself as him is someone who is in a situation with someone who is in a lot of pain. This is his only way to respond because he is ill-equipped. He is blaming himself. He may not be able to express his guilt but you can see how he feels. Everyone has the same store of feelings, they either get caught up inside or come out.
How do you introduce the character in a way that makes the audience forget their past associations with you?
I don’t worry about playing to a particular audience. Some people don’t want to see you a particular way but my responsibility is to myself and the work that I do. It is not any easier to play a good guy than a bad guy. And the only power I have is what work I don’t do. That keeps me from playing the same thing over and over again.
There are ways that this film is very of the moment because of the way the wife meets the other man online but the themes of failure of connection and communication are eternal.
That’s true enough of relationships with people in the same house.
What makes you laugh?
Pretty much everything. I laugh a lot! I find it funny when people think of me as brooding. If there’s one thing I’d like to get a chance to do, it’s comedy.
What is your training and how is it reflected in your process for creating a character?
I went to the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. It is a theater training school, but all drama schools are based in theater, basically it’s acting one way or another. I was there for three years. Coming from my background, artistic but not well-to- do, I had not met any actors. I didn’t know how to go about the business of becoming an actor. I was very, very interested in Stanislavsky and the Method and had read up on my own. I was always very interested in actors like Brando and Montgomery Clift and character actors like Charles Laughton, Anthony Hopkins. It was a far more practical training about getting up and doing it, being loud enough and physically free enough. I have always been very much into accents, too. I am musical and have a good ear, so always loved and had an ability to do accents. I found quite freeing, quite liberating, it concentrates all your tension in one area. When youre given a limitation, your imagination can fly.
Home is a gorgeous new documentary with a haunting musical score about the planet we live on. It is from internationally renowned French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand and produced by award-winning director Luc Besson. HOME is narrated in English by Glenn Close and in Spanish by Salma Hayek. Three film crews worked in more than 100 countries over 21 months to produce more than 488 hours of aerial footage.
And it is being made available worldwide at no charge to audiences by the firm PPR in the first global all-media format premier of a film on World Environment Day, June 5th. PPR’s support of HOME will make it possible to reach viewers all over the planet in more than 127 countries on June 5th to watch HOME for free on TV, in open-air theaters or on the internet in partnership with Youtube and Google, and in theaters worldwide and on DVD at a reduced rate. Please make an effort to see this beautiful, inspiring, and very important film.