More than I expected to find in ‘E’. Please add your own choices in the comments as usual. As always, I have tried to avoid most of the obvious names in this letter.
I am starting today with an American character actor, and well known supporting player, Jack Elam. The name may not seem familiar, but I assure you that you will have seen him in something, mostly Westerns. His film credit list is huge, and his rubbery face and crazy eyes will be immediately familiar to you. He appeared in 73 films, as well as more than 40 television roles, until his death in 2003, aged 82. I grew up watching him, usually as a villain, and picked up on his performances, and his name, from an early age. From his first film role in 1947, until his last performance in 1995, he was a man who was rarely out of work, and familiar to audiences all around the world. Some of his most well known films follow. ‘Rancho Notorious’ (1952), ‘High Noon’ (1952), ‘Vera Cruz’ (1954), and ‘Gunfight At The OK Corral’ (1957). In the 70s, he worked alongside John Wayne, in ‘Rio Lobo’ (1970), and was in ‘Hannie Caulder’ (1971). Then ‘Pat Garratt and Billy The Kid’ (1973), followed later by ‘The Cannonball Run’ (1981), with Burt Reynolds. Few actors have managed to play so many diverse roles, in so many films.
British actor Christopher Eccleston first came to attention with roles in television dramas, and stage performances. He starred as ‘Doctor Who’ as one incarnation of the Doctor on BBC TV, and won awards for his part in the serial ‘Our Friends In The North’. But he is not unknown to film audiences, with a major role alongside Cate Blanchette in ‘Elizabeth’ (1998), and appearing in ‘Gone In 60 Seconds’ (2000). He continued to star in British TV dramas like ‘Cracker’, as well as appearing in ‘The Others’ (2001), and the zombie horror ’28 Days Later’ (2002). He recently appeared in the comic-book franchise ‘Thor: The Dark World’ (2013), and as the cop hunting Tom Hardy’s real-life gangsters The Kray twins, in ‘Legend’ (2015). Still just 54, he remains a regular feature of TV drama here, and has much more to give.
Swedish actress Anita Ekberg was nothing if not always good to look at. Staring life as a glamour model, (understandably) she got a contract with Universal, after appearing in the Miss Universe Contest in America. This gave her numerous forgettable roles, based more on her looks, than her acting ability. Her career was unremarkable, until her 1960 film, ‘La Dolce Vita’. This Italian film, directed by Fellini, launched her onto the international arena, and her iconic scene in Rome’s Trevi Fountain gained her the attention of the world press, and a new following of many devoted fans. But although she made more than twenty-five films after that one, real success eluded her. Alhough one of her later films, ‘Killer Nun’ (1978) went on to achieve cult status, the recognition and critical acclaim she desired sadly never came her way. With the latter part of her life lived in financial difficulties, she died in 2015, aged 83.
British actor Rupert Everett has had a long career on stage, screen, and television. Known for costume dramas, historical roles, and lately for documentary films, he continues to work regularly, now aged 58. Coming from a relatively upper-class background, he began acting on the London stage, and achieved international recognition in the 1984 film, ‘Another Country’, playing a spy based on the real life of Anthony Burgess. The following year, he starred alongside Ian Holm and Miranda Richardson in the drama ‘Dance With A Stranger’, again based on a true story, of murderess Ruth Ellis. Later roles saw him in ‘Pret A Porter’ (1994), ‘The Madness Of king George’ (1994), and ‘Dunston Checks In’ (1996). The year after that, he won numerous awards for the smash-hit film, ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’, and ‘An Ideal Husband’ (1999). Since then he has starred in more than 24 films, and is soon to be seen in ‘Swords and Sceptres’ (2018).
Another modern British actor, Idris Elba has been considered for the role of James Bond, and would be the first black actor to ever play that iconic spy. Known internationally for playing an American in the hit TV show, ‘The Wire’, he is also famous in the UK for playing detective John Luther in the BBC drama, ‘Luther’. His career is currently very much in the ascendant. As well as acting, he is a successful DJ, and the face of the TV company SKY on all their TV advertising. Film credits are familiar too, with roles in ‘American Gangster’ (2007), ‘RocknRolla’ (2008), ‘Prometheus’ (2012), and as Nelson Mandela in ‘The Long Walk To Freedom’ (2013). Comic-book franchises also gained him parts in ‘Thor’ (2011), ‘Thor:The Dark World’ (2013), and ‘Thor:Ragnarok’ (2017). My personal favourite role of his so far, was as the African rebel leader in ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ (2105). He has been awarded the O.B.E. here, and has won a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild award. Still working of course, and with a great future ahead of him at the age of 45.