Thursday, April 30, 2009

More acting in the family

Screenterrier reported on young actor Angus Harrison's new role in My Almost Famous Family here. And last night his younger brother Duncan won the BBC's Best Young Speaker competition.

Duncan Harrison, 15, from Horfield, wrote an inspirational speech on the rights of children, following a trip by the final three contestants to Malawi.

He also trains at the Actor's Workshop in Flax Bourton.

His first performance will be on the 15 May 2009, at Redwood Lodge, for the Sarah Lacy Fund Ball, celebrating young talented performers around the West.

"For some things you had lots of time to prepare, whilst for others everything was done on the spur of the moment. It has been quite a journey," said Duncan.

Clara Marullo, director of the Actors' Workshop said: "I am absolutely delighted to see Duncan has grown throughout the competition. Acting and public speaking are the same - you need to be truthful, spontaneous and subtle."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang casting news

11 year old Asa Butterfield has been cast in the lead child role of 'Norman' in the new Nanny McPhee film.

Universal Pictures and Working Title Films - in association with Three Strange Angels Productions - announced today that principal photography begins early next month on Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. Oscar(R)-winning actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee, Sense and Sensibility) returns to the role of the magical nanny who appears when she's wanted the least and needed the most in the next chapter of the hilarious and heartwarming fable that has enchanted children around the world.

The family comedy will be directed by BAFTA winner Susanna White (television's Bleak House, Generation Kill, Jane Eyre). Also returning to the series are BAFTA-winning and Oscar(R)-nominated producers Lindsay Doran (Nanny McPhee, Stranger Than Fiction, Sense and Sensibility) - in her fifth collaboration with Thompson - and Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (see credits below). In addition to starring and writing, Thompson will executive produce, along with Working Title's Debra Hayward and Liza Chasin.

In the latest installment, Nanny McPhee jumps forward in time and appears at the door of a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war. But once she's arrived, Nanny McPhee discovers that Mrs. Green's children are fighting a war of their own against two nasty, snobby cousins who have just moved in and refuse to leave. From flying motorcycles and statues that come to life to a tree-climbing piglet and a baby elephant that turns up in the oddest places, Nanny McPhee uses her magic to teach her mischievous charges five new lessons.

Joining Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal for the project are Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Boat That Rocked) as Mrs. Green's villainous brother-in-law, Phil; Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) as Mrs. Green's eldest son, Norman; and legendary two-time Academy Award(R)-winning actress Dame Maggie Smith (Becoming Jane, Harry Potter series) as the somewhat befuddled Mrs. Docherty. Two-time Academy Award(R)-nominated actor Ralph Fiennes (The Constant Gardener, Harry Potter series) lends his talents for a cameo in the film.

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, based on characters created by "Nurse Matilda" author Christianna Brand, is written by Emma Thompson, the Academy(R)-, Emmy-, BAFTA- and WGA Award-winning actress and screenwriter. As a performer, Thompson's projects include Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Stranger Than Fiction and Last Chance Harvey. As a screenwriter, she's crafted Nanny McPhee, Sense and Sensibility, and television's Wit, among others. She is currently penning a new adaptation of My Fair Lady.

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang's behind-the-scenes team is an accomplished group including Oscar(R) winner Peter King (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Nanny McPhee), who returns to re-create the title character's signature hair and makeup; Oscar(R)-nominated costume designer Jacqueline Durran (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice); and Oscar(R)-nominated composer Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Revolutionary Road).

Director White has brought on longtime collaborators for her key crew, including British Independent Film Award-winning cinematographer Mike Eley (television's Jane Eyre and Grey Gardens, Touching the Void) and BAFTA TV Award-winning production designer Simon Elliott (television's Bleak House, Brick Lane).

The other child actors have yet to be announced.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Open casting call London and Manchester

 Open Audition call:
For 16 to 20 year olds
MUSICIANS & SINGERS: are invited to audition for a new film, HUNKY DORY, (produced by Jon Finn (Billy Elliot), directed by Marc Evans (Snow Cake, My Little Eye)

When: Saturday 30th May
Where: The Zion Arts Centre, 335 Stretford Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5ZA

When: Saturday 27th June 2009 from 9am
Where:The London School of Musical Theatre, 83 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DN (Tube: Borough / Elephant & Castle)

These are open auditions and we are looking for phenomenal singers of any style. Male and female - the emphasis is on INDIVIDUALS.
Bring a SONG (sheet music if you have it) or feel free to sing A CAPPELLA or with your own accompaniment (i.e. guitar or CD).

Please also bring a PHOTO. Be prepared to stay all day. We can only see the first 100, any others will be asked to return on the Sunday.

For more info call Jessica Ronane, Casting Director, on THIS CASTING IS NOW CLOSED.

We are looking not only for kids who can sing but kids we can believe in as characters, this is not the X-factor, so what we want is real people with raw talent. Kids with attitude, who maybe sing in band, should feel that they can be included, as well as those more used to musical theatre or drama. Talent, like teenagers, comes in all shapes and sizes. (Film-wise, think The Commitments, not Moulin Rouge!)

HUNKY DORY is a very original film set in Swansea in the summer of 1976 – the hottest summer the UK has ever seen. It is half-way between a musical and a drama and centres around the trials and tribulations of an idealistic drama teacher as she tries to put on the end of year show; a rock and roll, space age version of Shakespeare’s Tempest using the kids’ favourite pop songs to tell the story. A kind of grand “rock opera” in the tradition of “Tommy” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” which were all the rage at the time.The film follows her single-handed attempt to put the show on and knock these teenagers into shape, a hard enough task made harder by the relentless sunshine and enticing beaches of Swansea. What the film tries to capture is that musical magic created when kids come together and perform with their hearts and souls. The story is essentially a simple one about a school show, and the plot centres around a burnt down school hall, an ill judged affair and the everyday trials and tribulations of teenage life. “Hunky Dory” is an ensemble piece that through its various characters celebrates the fragility and exuberance of youth. More than anything it aims at authenticity.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Almost Famous Family casting news

Screenterrier first reported back in January on the open auditions for new CBBC comedy drama My Almost Famous Family here.

News of some of the young actors cast:


Angus Harrison (represented by SRA Agency), aged 17, a pupil at Redland Green School, Bristol will play Hadley Swann in the musical comedy series.

The Swanns are a large musical family who sing together as a television pop group, We're In Perfect Harmony.

"I cant wait to start shooting in a couple of weeks but I will be home every weekend to see my friends," said sixth-former Angus.

The Hadley Swann role will see Angus away from the classroom for 13 weeks but he is not concerned about the break in his formal studies:

"I am in constant touch with my teachers by e-mail and I am very self-motivated!"

In fact, Angus, who who trains at The Actors' Workshop in Flax Bourton every Sunday, sees the BBC drama experience as an important part of his development as an actor.

"There is no substitute for professional training because competition is so stiff."

Angus has already appeared on TV in Genie in the House, Skins and M.I. High.

More recently, he graduated to the big screen, having just finished filming a role in new Brit feature film, Halo Boy, alongside Brenda Blethyn, Timothy Spall and Mel Smith.


Newcomer Matt Morgan (Cavat Theatre Arts ) will be playing the part of Isaac.


Alice Henley has been cast as Annabelle, the beautiful young host of the television show the family pop group appear on.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Acting in the family

Another new face in the latest Harry Potter film is Georgina Leonidas as Katie Bell.

Georgina is the younger sister of actress Stephanie Leonidas. Their brother Dimitri Leonidas is also an actor who was in Grange Hill and will soon be seen in the new teen horror Tormented out in May.

Georgina made her debut as Molly in the CBBC kids programme The Basil Brush Show.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nanny McPhee star's new role

Eleven-year old actress Holly Gibbs (represented by CS Management), who starred alongside Emma Thompson and Colin Firth in hit film Nanny McPhee has an exciting new role in the theatre. She is starring in Burnt by the Sun at the National Theatre, London.

Written by Peter Flannery from the screenplay by Nikita Mikhalkov and Rustam Ibragimbekov, Burnt by the Sun is set at the beginning of Stalin’s Great Terror and portrays a brutal future encroaching upon an upper-class family. The production opened earlier this month. Holly plays Nadia, the daughter of the female protagonist.

“This is one of the biggest things I’ve done. It’s incredible. Seeing a sea of faces watching you is so exciting.” said Holly.

She shares the part (with Skye Bennett) and performs two shows a week. “School has been really supportive as I’ve missed quite a lot due to rehearsals, but now the shows are in the evening, I’m not missing as much.

Holly attends Centre Stage drama school in Southgate, north London, and hopes to become a professional actress. “That would be my life dream.”

She lives in Wembley, Middlesex.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Eleanor Tomlinson

16 year old Eleanor Tomlinson has been hailed as the next Keira Knightley but her latest venture has sadly not come to fruition.

Eleanor (represented by top agency Conway Van Gelder Grant Ltd) headed out to South Africa last month, where she was due to spend six weeks filming new movie Heaven And Earth, in which she was to play Brosnan's daughter.

However, just 10 days in, Eleanor was given the shock news filming had to be cancelled due to lack of funds.

Eleanor told the Mail: "We had no idea that was going to happen.

"I had been there 10 days rehearsing with everyone.

"I was very upset when I heard. They cancelled it very suddenly.

"But these things happen in the film industry. You have to be prepared in this unreliable business.

"I was disappointed, but I had a nice break.

"I met Pierce Brosnan, he was lovely and such a nice person. It's a shame I won't be working with him.

"I hope they get back on track as this film has been in the pipeline for quite a few years. But I've not been told anything yet."

The film was set to chart the true story of military surgeon James Miranda Barry, played by Natascha McElhone, who lived her life as a man to realise her dream of becoming a doctor.

Eleanor was to play Georgina, the daughter of a governor, in the film, which is set in the 18th century.

But it's back to school life at Beverley High for Eleanor.

Last week she performed in the school's version of Chekhov's play Three Sisters in preparation for her drama A-Level.

She said: "The play went well. My classmates are really good and we never talk about my filming. I try to keep it low-profile.

"I approach my schoolwork in the same way as filming. I take it very seriously as you have a whole group depending on you."

Eleanor's first film role was playing the young version of Jessica Biel's character Duchess Sophie Von Teschen in Neil Burger's film The Illusionist, which also starred Edward Norton.

Her biggest role was in teen comedy Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging, shot by Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha.

Eleanor was recently in Plymouth shooting her role in Tim Burton's adaptation of Alice In Wonderland, which will feature a mix of live action and computer-generated images.

She plays Alice's peer, the spiteful Fiona Chataway, who appears at the beginning of the film before Alice falls down the rabbit hole.

Interview with Bill Milner

For some kids, starring in two movies—one of them with the legendary Michael Caine—would augur a healthy film career. But Bill Milner (represented by Curtis Brown) isn’t so sure. “It’s more like a hobby,” says the 14-year-old English thespian. “I don’t know, I might go really crazy and decide to be a biologist or something. I just want to keep my options open.”

Yes, best to hedge his bets—even though his feature debut, 2007’s absurdist lark Son of Rambow was a hit around the world; his second film, the coming-of-age drama Is Anybody There?, opens this month; and his third movie, an adaptation of David Almond’s YA fantasy novel Skellig, wrapped last December. “I wouldn’t say I wanted to be an actor,” he says in a phone call from Hampton, England, where he lives with his family. “But now that the opportunity has come along and I’ve experienced it, I really love it.”

Self-deprecating and modest, Milner is also a charming screen presence. His Rambow character is a sheltered member of a religious sect whose imagination is sparked when a rebellious classmate recruits him for a scrappy home-movie sequel to the Sylvester Stallone action film First Blood. In Is Anybody There?, Milner plays ten-year-old Edward, the youngest resident (by far) of a nursing home run by his parents. It’s a much darker, intermittently sentimental yet very funny story that the teen handles with aplomb, hitting all the tonal shades of laughter and pathos without a misstep.

To stem his loneliness in a place bereft of other children, Edward nurses an obsession with ghosts and the supernatural—not surprising in a house where people frequently die of old age. But when a grouchy retired magician named Clarence (Caine) moves in, Edward strikes up an unlikely friendship that changes them both.

The movie is a less-than-obvious choice for tweens (with all the sagging flesh and mordant humor, it’s not exactly Harry Potter). But kids with an awakening awareness of mortality will enjoy the film as much as adults will. “It was quite strange,” Milner admits about the script. “I did find the story line an odd thing. It’s one of those films that’s really hard to explain in ten words. You kind of have to watch it to really understand. I’m glad I was taken with it.”

The honor of working alongside Caine was a big draw, too—and not intimidating in the least, despite the fact that the Oscar-winning Brit last shared the big screen with Batman in The Dark Knight. “He’s just a really friendly guy,” Milner says. “I did find it quite easy to act with him. And you can really talk to him, even though there’s a big age difference and we didn’t have anything in common.” Better still was the master class that Caine inadvertently provided. “I talked to him about tips and advice, but it was just watching him and being around him when he acts,” the teen adds. “I probably act more natural now that I’ve acted with him.”

As for the supernatural part of the story, Milner is open-minded. “I wouldn’t say that I believe in ghosts, but I do think there are spirits of some sort. You imagine the scary sort of thing from Ghostbusters and stuff? I think they just want to make friends.”

Oddly, both films in Milner’s résumé are period pieces set in the early 1980s, before he was born. “It’s crazy—I’m typecast, you know?” he says with a chuckle. “I don’t really feel out of place. It’s quite normal, although the TVs are funny and the phones are huge.”

Outside of work, Milner is concentrating on his studies. The youngest of three (his brother, Max, is 17 and his sister, Joanna, is 20), he knows there’s more to life than being in movies. “I thought I wanted to be an artist,” he says, pointing out that Joanna is at college majoring in art history. “But now that I’m at secondary school, I’ve kind of noticed how average I am. I’m no Van Gogh.” Looks like he’s stuck being an acclaimed actor.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where are they now?

The Cast of Press Gang

If you love 80s kids TV, you’ll love today’s Where Are They Now? Press Gang was a pioneering children’s television show that won awards and critical acclaim for it’s writing and it’s ability to address serious subjects and aim them at a young audience.

The show was based around a school newspaper set up by famous journalist and former Fleet Street resident, Matt Kerr as he sought to develop a paper aimed at youngster. The show followed the trials and tribulations of the news team and took them through gun crime, drugs and hostage situations. Pretty hard-hitting stuff when you compare it to Bernard’s Watch. But we were wondering, where are they all now?

Julia Sawalha AKA Lynda Day

Lynda Day was the fearsome editor of the Junior Gazette, think Rebekah Wade, if you will. She ruled with an iron fist but was equally as charming as she was desperate for the paper to success.

Sawalha took a shine to sitcoms and went on to appear in Second Thoughts, Faith in the Future, both on ITV, and most famously, Absolutely Fabulous as Jennifer Saunders’ daughter Saffron.

Julia, who’s sister was once in Eastenders and is now a TV presenter, has also appeared in Pride and Prejudice, voiced a character in Chicken Run and starred alongside Richard E. Grant in the Argos adverts.

She stepped back into the spotlight with appearances in Hornblower and Jonathan Creek and took part in the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are. More recently, you would have seen her in Cranford and Lark Rise to Candleford, both BBC period costume dramas. Quite an eclectic career.

Paul Reynolds AKA Colin Matthews

Reynolds played the part of Colin Matthews, who took charge of the newspaper’s finances. He was usually seen wearing marvellously garish, loud shirts and was a renowned Thatcherite.

Reynolds, who attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School, went on to star in Ghostbusters of East Finchley and Trevor’s World of Sport after Press Gang had called it a day. He’s also appeared alongside Christopher Eccleston in Let Him Have It and Clive Owen in The Croupier. Reynolds was another cast member who benefited from knowing Sawalha as he appeared as Squeak in Absolutely Fabulous from 1995 – 1998.

More recently, Reynolds has turned his hand to stage acting and has appeared in numerous plays around the country.

Lucy Benjamin AKA Julie Craig

Julie started the show out as head of the graphics team, but due to her hard work, and that of actress Lucy Benjamin, she was promoted to be the Assistant Editor of the paper.

Upon the show’s completion, Benjamin is most famous for her stint in Albert Square, playing Lisa Fowler in Eastenders. Since leaving the East End, she won The X Factor’s spin-off show “Battle of the Stars” where she was coached by Sharon Osbourne. Benjamin has also appeared in Casualty, The Afternoon Play for the BBC, Doctors and her reality show success continued when she won £10,000 for charity on All Star Family Fortunes.

She is currently starring in the The Pretender Agenda, at the New Players Theatre with former Blue star, and acclaimed (?!) actor Lee Ryan.

Dexter Fletcher AKA Spike Thomson

Fletcher played the part of the love interest for editor, Lynda Day. Arriving at the school as an American delinquent, Spike is told to work for the paper or risk being excluded from school.

He brought an element of humour, most of which was ill-received and ill-timed, but funny nonetheless. Since the show ended he’s hit the big screen in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake and Doom. Kudos.

He’s not dedicated his life to the movies though, he’s also appeared in Band of Brothers, The Virgin Queen, Robin Hood and Hotel Babylon as well as Kylie Minogue’s 1997 music video Some Kind of Bliss. Fletcher also had a stint as presenting Gamesmaster.

Lee Ross AKA Kenny Phillips

Ross played the secret-music writer Kenny Phillips in the show, with his character being notoriously unlucky in love. It all began for Ross when he played Fat Sam in a West End production of Bugsy Malone.

After Press Gang, Ross has appeared in Rogue Trader with Ewan McGregor, Hard Men, I.D. as well as The Bill and Casualty. He also voiced Hawkbit in the TV series of Watership Down. Bet you didn’t know that!

Of late, Ross has appeared in the Catherine Tate Show, Hustle and Life on Mars. He was last on our screens playing Owen Turner in Eastenders in 2006.

Mmoloki Chrystie AKA Frazer “Frazz” Davis

Chrystie played the football-mad, slightly slow on the uptake Frazz in Press Gang, he was responsible for writing the horoscopes don’t you know! He previously appeared in Grange Hill as Kevin Baylon, you know, the kid that was best mates with Zammo. He was also a prominent character in the “Just Say No” campaign.

When the show ended in 1993, Chrystie left acting altogether. Well, you can’t blamed him after reaching the upper echelons of stardom! Having worked as an assistant director on a small budget film called Rage, he was meant to appear on our screens in Bring Back…Grange Hill presented by the lion in the band t-shirts AKA Justin Lee Collins, but declined, we don’t blame him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Box of Delights

The Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell is to make a new film based on John Masefield's 1935 children's fantasy novel "The Box of Delights".

Published in 1935, Masefield's story centres on a 12-year-old boy, Kay Harker, who is entrusted with a magical box that allows him to time travel, shrink in size and move with incredible speed, but also puts him in jeopardy. Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote A Cock and Bull Story and 24 Hour Party People, is adapting the novel.

This is not the first time that the Masefield book is making the transfer from the page to another medium: there was a popular 1940s BBC radio adaptation, which Newell revealed was where he first came across the story. "I was immediately seduced by the tingling, opening harp music and the fantastical, mysterious, magic story that followed," he told Variety.

There was also the 1984 live-action-and-animated BBC TV version, starring Patrick Troughton and Robert Stephens, with Devan Stanfield as the young boy Kay, which has become a cult classic. According to Wikipedia, as an adult, Devin Stanfield went on to do behind-the-scenes work in the theatre.

Newell, who is currently completing work on the movie of the Prince of Persia videogame, has form with children's fantasy adaptations. He directed the fourth film in the Harry Potter series, 2005's Goblet of Fire, which enjoyed a good reception from both critics and fans alike.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Skellig characters

Look out for Skye Bennett (represented by Jackie Palmer) who plays Mina in Skellig on Sky 1 this Easter.

Mina is a girl who lives near Michael. She is home schooled, so she is sometimes unaccustomed to the behaviour of other kids her age. Mina likes art and poetry (her favourite poet is William Blake). Mina is also fascinated by nature. When Michael takes Mina to see Skellig, she is intrigued by the strange creature. She helps Michael with his plan to get Skellig in better health.

Skye Bennett is 13-years-old, but she’s had a lot of experience already, appearing in such programmes as “Holby City,” “Torchwood,” “Doctors,” “Boy A,” and many more. She is a vegetarian, and she enjoys figure skating.

Interview with Skye from Maidenhead Advertiser:

An actress from Maidenhead will be watching herself on television this weekend when the film she stars in hits Sky 1.

Skye Bennett started filming for Skellig in August last year and is looking forward to watching the children's tale with family and friends on Sunday.

The 13-year-old who plays Mina and trains at the Jackie Palmer Stage School said: "I really like playing her."

During the last two years, the actress from Larchfield Road has starred in films such as Ballet Shoes, Dark Floors and Boy A.

Speaking just hours before performing in Burnt by the Sun, a play at London's National Theatre, Skye talked about the future and said: "What I would really like to do is have a lead starring role.
"Something that would hit cinemas - that would be really sweet."

The new feature film tells the story of David Almond's children's novel.
It was shot in and around Cardiff between August and October last year, and also stars Tim Roth, Kelly McDonald, John Simm and Bill Milner.

Skye's father, Jim, said that him and his wife have had to change their lifestyles to chaperone their daughter when filming.

The teacher said: "I am now a supply teacher and that means I am more free to look after Skye. My wife has to take days off too sometimes - but it is worth it."

The family were picked up in a silver BMW last month to attend a film premiere in London, and will be watching Skellig again with friends at their home on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Faces to watch in 2009

Screenterrier has already reported on Bill Milner's role in Skellig showing on Sky1 over Easter.

He also has a new film out in May "Is Anybody There?" starring alongside Michael Caine.
The simplest ideas often make the best films. Here a morbid 10-year-old boy gets even more morbid because his parents have turned their house into a retirement home.

Crikey! Who is going to want to watch this?

But the scene, set in a sleepy British seaside town in the 1980s, is immediately saved by having the baffled boy played by Bill Milner (represented by Curtis Brown), who was outstanding in Son of Rambow.

Morbid he may be but not without resources, and while his parents – Anne Marie Duff and David Morrissey - struggle to keep their dying business alive (all puns intended), Milner becomes obsessed with the afterlives of the home’s elderly residents.

To be precise, he starts following them around with a tape-recorder to capture the sound of the soul as it escapes the mortal coil.

It is a slightly unconventional pastime for any young lad so it is fortunate that one day a magician, "The Amazing Clarence" (cleverly impersonated by Sir Michael Caine), arrives with some distracting anarchy.

As a friendship blossoms between these two lost souls, Clarence comes to terms with his past and the child masters his fear of the future, leaving both of them free to seize whatever joy the day has to offer.

Directed by BAFTA winner John Crowley (Boy A and Intermission), Is Anybody There? opens across the UK on 1 May.