Ever the Gentleman…The Loss of Patrick Macnee

Just after Christopher Lee’s passing, we have lost another great, Patrick Macnee. The two of them were the last surviving members of Sir Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948). I wrote last month about the passing of Christopher Lee because everyone knew him and I wanted to honor him and shed light on lesser-known things about him. I am writing about Patrick MacNee because he is less well-known and I want to honor him by shedding light on this great man and actor.

macneeOn June 25th, 2015, Patrick Macnee died of natural causes at his home in Rancho Mirage, California with his family at his bedside, his son Rupert said. He had lived in the US for the last 40 years, and had become a US Citizen. He was 93.

I grew up with Patrick Macnee as the ever-gentlemanly spy, John Steed on BBC’s The Avengers (1961). It is his most iconic role, and honestly ruined me for all other men. He was the epitome of the debonair English gentleman. He wore a suit, and very well, along his dapper bowler hat and distinctive umbrella, which doubled as a sword. He refused to be seen with a gun, saying in later interviews: “I said that I wouldn’t carry one; when they asked me why, I said that I’d just come out of a world war in which I’d seen most of my friends blown to bits.” Macnee became outspoken and, in later years, took every opportunity to express his disapproval of the proliferation of guns in private hands. He was always proper, but with quick wit and great agility. You could say that he is the original Kingsman.

The Avengers (1961) initially focused on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant (Macnee), but Macnee’s famous bowler-hat-wearing, umbrella-wielding intelligence officer became the protagonist when Hendry exited the series. Macnee played the part alongside a succession of strong, female partners, including Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson, and Joanna Lumley. The show ran from 1961 and 1969 and was reprised in the 1970s.

This show was groundbreaking, and Macnee had spoke of his pride in how the show paved the way for women to play leading action roles. Of course, it was more than that, as he treated his female partners as equals, unlike how he was originally a side-kick of sorts. The most notable of them was Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg in fashionable outfits and the occasional catsuit. She was nobody’s fool, a speedy sports car driver and martial arts expert; he was suitably impressed, if more staid. The two routinely engaged in witty banter while keeping the world safe from supervillains.

Avengers“It made them delight in the awareness that they could get out there and do it all, fight men, take on villains, all the kinds of stuff we showed in The Avengers,” Macnee said during an interview with The Lady Magazine. “I’m very proud of what we achieved for women with The Avengers. I don’t think we knew that we were doing it at the time; it just seemed that a woman would make the ideal foil to my John Steed. And so she did.”

The great thing about Patrick Macnee, however, is that his gentleman qualities went beyond the role and were part of his personality, saying once that it was hardly acting because he grew up that way. As a frequent guest on television talk shows around the world, Macnee was an ambassador for the tradition of the British gentleman, with his special brand of congeniality, humor and intelligence, his remarkable physical agility, and his unfailing good manners, sense of decency, and fair play. His comments and responses to questions were laced with a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat subversive sense of irony, along with a lightning-fast wit.

A Quick Bio:

Daniel Patrick Macnee, professionally known simply as Patrick Macnee, was born on February 6, 1922 in Paddington, London, England into a wealthy and eccentric family, Daniel Macnee (1877-1952) and Dorothea Mary Hastings (1896-1984). His father trained race horses in Lambourn, and was known for his dress sense; he had served as an officer in the Yorkshire Dragoons in the First World War. His maternal grandmother was Frances Alice Hastings (1870-1945), who was the daughter of Vice-Admiral George Fowler Hastings and granddaughter of Hans Francis Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon. His younger brother James, known as Jimmy, was born five years after him.

Macnee’s parents divorced after his mother began to identify as a lesbian. His father later moved to India, and his mother began to live with her wealthy partner, Evelyn Spottswood, whose money came from the Dewar’s whisky business. Macnee referred to her in his autobiography as “Uncle Evelyn”, and she helped pay for his schooling.

He was educated at Summerfields Preparatory School, where he acted in Henry V at the age of 11, with Sir Christopher Lee as the Dauphin; followed by attending Eton College, where comedian and author Michael Bentine became a life-long friend. Macnee first appeared on stage and made his film debut as an extra in Pygmalion (1938). His career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Royal Navy. After military service, Macnee attended the Webber Douglas School of Dramatic Art in London on scholarship—about which he said, “I went to acting school, but only for nine months. If you’re an actor, you know, don’t really need to learn how to do it.”

The New AvengersHe trudged the streets of London visiting the casting offices every day, and hung out near the entrances to London’s smarter restaurants and hotels in hope of “running into” a noted producer. There were a few near-misses. He got valuable experience onstage at The Windsor Repertory Theatre, in London’s West End, and on tours in Germany and the United States. He accepted a few minor roles, with bit parts such as Young Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol (1951). Disappointed with his limited roles, Macnee left England for Canada and the United States.

In 1954, he went to Broadway with an Old Vic troupe and later moved on to Hollywood, where he made occasional television and film appearances until returning to England in 1959. Once back home, he took advantage of his producing experience in Canada to become co-producer of the British television series Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years (1960). Shortly thereafter, Macnee landed the role that brought him worldwide fame and popularity in the part of John Steed.

He reprised the role in The New Avengers (1976)—about which he said, “They call it The New Avengers but it’s really the old Avengers with new people except for me, looking rather fat and rather old.” Although popular, it failed to recapture the magic of the original series, and only lasted one year.

He did appear as the voice of Invisible Jones in the sad, failure of a movie adaptation The Avengers (1998), with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman. I will say no more on that.

“Television has some lovely aspects to it—and some ghastly aspects—but the theater itself was a wonderful invention.” —Patrick Macnee.

Other Significant Roles:

Macnee also featured as a guest star in dozens of British, American and Australian TV productions.

He appeared in Magnum, P.I. (1984) as a retired but delusional British agent who believed he was Sherlock Holmes, in a season four episode titled “Holmes Is Where the Heart Is.” And he played both Holmes and Dr. Watson on several occasions. He played Watson alongside Roger Moore’s Sherlock Holmes in the TV film, Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976), and twice with Christopher Lee, first in Incident at Victoria Falls (1991) and then in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1992). He played Holmes in another TV film, The Hound of London (1993). He is thus one of only a very small number of actors to have portrayed both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on screen.

IblisMacnee’s other significant roles have included playing Sir Godfrey Tibbett opposite Roger Moore in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985), as Major Crossley in The Sea Wolves (again with Moore), guest roles in Encounter, Alias Smith and Jones (with creator  Glen Larson), Hart to Hart, Murder, She Wrote, and The Love Boat. Although his best known part was heroic, many of his television appearances were as villains; among them were his roles of both the demonic Count Iblis and his provision of the character voice for the Cylons’s Imperious Leader in Battlestar Galactica (meeting up with Glen Larson again) and the show’s introductory voiceover. He also presented the American paranormal series Mysteries, Magic and Miracles. Macnee made his Broadway debut as the star of Anthony Shaffer’s mystery Sleuth in 1972 and subsequently headlined the national tour of that play.

On television, Macnee made a guest appearance on Columbo in the episode “Troubled Waters” (1975) and played Major Vickers in For the Term of His Natural Life (1983). He had recurring roles in the crime series Gavilan with Robert Urich and in the short-lived satire on big business, Empire (1984), as Dr. Calvin Cromwell. Macnee also narrated the documentary Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator (2000).


macnee columboHe also appeared in several cult films: The Howling (1981), as ‘Dr George Waggner’ (named whimsically after the director of The Wolf Man, 1941) and as Sir Denis Eton-Hogg in the rockumentary comedy This Is Spinal Tap (1984). He played Dr. Stark in The Creature Wasn’t Nice (1981), also called Spaceship and Naked Space.

Macnee played the role of actor David Mathews in the made-for-television movie Rehearsal for Murder (1982), which starred Robert Preston and Lynn Redgrave. The movie was from a script written by Columbo co-creators Richard Levinson and William Link. He took over Leo G. Carroll’s role as Alexander Waverly, the head of U.N.C.L.E. in The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E: The Fifteen-Years-Later Affair (1983), produced by Michael Sloan. He featured in the science fiction television movie Super Force (1990) as E. B. Hungerford (the series which followed did not feature Macnee), as a supporting character in the parody film Lobster Man From Mars (1989) as Prof. Plocostomos and in The Return of Sam McCloud (1989), a TV film, as Tom Jamison.

He made an appearance in Frasier (2001), and several episodes of the American science-fiction series Nightman as Dr. Walton, a psychiatrist who would advise Johnny/Nightman. Macnee appeared in two episodes of the series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993–94) and was a retired agent in a handful of installments of Spy Game (1997–98).

Interesting Spots:

Macnee made numerous TV commercials including one around 1990 for Swiss Chalet, the Canadian restaurant chain, and a year or so before, a commercial for the Sterling Motor Car Company. Over the James Bond theme, the car duels with a motorcycle assailant at high speed through mountainous territory, ultimately eludes the foe, and reaches its destination. Macnee steps out of the car and greets viewers with a smile, saying, “I suppose you were expecting someone else.” Macnee was the narrator for several “behind-the-scenes” featurettes for the James Bond series of DVDs and recorded numerous audio books, including the releases of many novels by Jack Higgins. He also recorded the children’s books The Musical Life of Gustav Mole and its sequel, The Lost Music (Gustav Mole’s War on Noise), both written by Michael Twinn.

patrickcynernautMacnee featured in two pop videos: as Steed in original Avengers footage in the The Pretenders’ video for their song “Don’t Get Me Wrong” (1986) and in the video for Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (1996), as the band’s driver, a role similar to that which he played in the James Bond film A View To A Kill (1985).

He scored a top 10 hit of his own in 1990, with Kinky Boots—a novelty song recorded with Avengers co-star Honor Blackman—which was championed by Radio 1’s then-breakfast DJ Simon Mayo.

Macnee reunited with Diana Rigg in her short-lived NBC sitcom, Diana (1973) in a single episode.

He dictated his autobiography, which he titled Blind in One Ear: The Avenger Returns (1988), to Marie Cameron.

From people that knew him:

A tribute on his website said of him: Patrick Macnee was a popular figure in the television industry. He was at home wherever in the world he found himself. He had a knack for making friends, and keeping them. Wherever he went, he left behind a trove of memories and good wishes. Patrick Macnee was known for his unswerving professionalism, his loyalty, his intuitive creativity, his unaffected courtesy, and his understated humanity.

Sir Roger Moore tweeted: “So very sad to hear Pat Macnee has left us. We were mates from 1950s and I have so many happy memories of working with him. A true gent.”

Linda Thorson, who played Tara King in The Avengers alongside him, talked about remembering him as a “paradox” when talking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “He was the best-dressed man on television and a nudist in real life. He was always upbeat. He had great stories and great detail and wonderful energy,” she continued. “Patrick [had] a very happy and long life and the most wonderful children who took the greatest of care of him, in the last decade in particular.”

Diana Rigg said, “Patrick was a very dear man and I owe him a great deal.” Macnee was something of a mentor and teacher to Diana Rigg.

Last Words:

Mr. Macnee, you were a true gentleman and I am glad that you were a part of my life. I hope to get you into others lives as well. You were my Steed, and I think all men should strive to be like you.


the_avengers_john_steedRIP Daniel Patrick Macnee

The Legendary Christopher Lee

On June 7, 2015 the great actor and icon Christopher Lee passed away due to heart failure. He was 93 years old. Most people know him for his portrayal of Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, as well as Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. But there is so much more to him than that, and his passing is a great loss.

The talk in my family about him over the years was that he was going to act until he died, and that after he died, he would will his body to be used as a prop to be in even more films forever, however morbid that thought seems now. We really thought he was never going to die, we thought he would go on forever.

He came from an amazing lineage and his life spanned some amazing eras in history, and he left us all with a legacy of films and so much more. It is hard to list all the great things about him and what he has done, but I’ll give some highlights and Tid-bits.

Christopher Frank Carandini Lee—oh excuse me—SIR Christopher Lee, was born May 27, 1922 in Belgravia, London, England and was knighted for services to Drama and Charity on June 13, 2009 as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honors. Prince Charles knighted him, and because of his age he was excused from the usual requirement of kneeling…but I would say because Christopher Lee is awesome and he kneels to no one.

Christopher Lee the_devil_rides_outHe and his older sister Xandra were raised by their parents, Contessa Estelle Marie (Carandini di Sarzano) and Geoffrey Trollope Lee, a professional soldier, until their divorce in 1926. Lee’s maternal great-grandfather was an Italian political refugee, while Lee’s great-grandmother was English opera singer Marie (Burgess) Carandini. Lee also descended from the Emperor Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire and was related to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general. Later, while Lee was still a child, his mother married (and later divorced) Harcourt George St.-Croix (nicknamed Ingle), who was a banker. Through his stepfather, became step-cousin to Ian Flemming, the creator and author of the James Bond series.

Tid-bit: Lee was Flemmings choice for Dr. No (1962). Lee enthusiastically accepted, but by the time Fleming told the producers, they had already chosen Joseph Wiseman for the role. Lee finally got to play a James Bond villain in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), in which he was cast as the deadly assassin Francisco Scaramanga. Lee said of his performance, “In Fleming’s novel he’s just a West Indian thug, but in the film he’s charming, elegant, amusing, lethal.…I played him like the dark side of Bond.”

Through his long life, he was more than just a great actor, he was a man of honor, a loving husband and father, a Classically trained singer and sometimes a fanboy.

Tid-bit: Apparently he geeked out when he bumped into J.R.R. Tolkien randomly in a pub, who gave Lee his blessing to play Gandalf in any future Lord of the Rings film (although he didn’t play Gandalf, he made a fabulous Saruman). He also once declared himself to be an unconditional fan of Gene Hackman.

He didn’t start acting until he was 25 and it was hard for him to break into it with supporting roles because he towered over the leading men at 6’ 5”.

Tid-bit: He is entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as “The Tallest Leading Actor”.

Still, he was able to make a go of it starring in many Hammer Films horror films, but when they got schlocky he tried to break away from them.

Tid-bit: Lee agreed to star in the 1966 Dracula: Prince of Darkness, but he felt the script was so awful he adamantly refused to say any of the dialogue. Hammer decided that it was far more important to have a mute Lee as star as opposed to anyone else, and thus had Dracula hiss and yell through the film. In his autobiography, he relates his first meeting with Peter Cushing during production of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), in which he played the monster. Lee stormed into a dressing room where Cushing was sitting and angrily yelled “I haven’t got any lines!” Cushing replied, “You’re lucky; I’ve read the script.”

But what did he do in the first 25 years of life? A hell of a lot more than most 25 year-olds can say!

Christopher_Lee_1944When Lee was nine, he was sent to Summer Fields School, a preparatory school in Oxford whose pupils often later attended Eton. He continued acting in school plays, though “the laurels deservedly went to Patrick Macnee (The Avengers, 1969).” Lee applied for a scholarship to Eton, where his interview was in the presence of the ghost story author M. R. James. He placed eleventh and thus missed out on being a King’s Scholar by one place. His stepfather was not prepared to pay the higher fees that being an Oppidan Scholar meant and so he did not attend. Instead, Lee attended Wellington College, where he won scholarships in the classics, studying Ancient Greek and Latin. Aside from a “tiny part” in a school play, he didn’t act while at Wellington. At age 17 and with one year left at Wellington, the summer term of 1939 was his last. His stepfather had gone bankrupt, owing £25,000.

Then, his mother and stepfather separated, and Lee had to get a job. While looking for work, he saw the death of the murderer Eugen Weidmann in Paris, the last person in France to be publicly executed by guillotine.

Tid-bit: Lee was quite interested in the history of public executions, and reportedly knew “the names of every official public executioner employed by England, dating all the way back to the mid-15th century.”

World War II soon broke out and Christopher Lee volunteered. He joined the Royal Air Force and became an intelligence officer for the Long Range Desert Patrol, a forerunner of the SAS, Britain’s special forces. He fought the Nazis in North Africa, often having up to five missions a day. During this time he helped retake Sicily, prevented a mutiny among his troops, contracted malaria six times in a single year and climbed Mount Vesuvius three days before it erupted. Later he moved to Winston Churchill’s even more elite Special Operations Executive, whose missions are still classified. The SOE was more informally, and fabulously called The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

Lee never said anything specific about his time in the SOE/SAS, but he has said: “I was attached to the SAS from time to time but we are forbidden—former, present, or future—to discuss any specific operations. Let’s just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read in to that what they like.” Further he once said: “I’ve seen many men die right in front of me—so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise we would never have won.”

Tid-bit: During his death scene in Return of the King (only included in the Extended Edition to Lee’s disapproval), director Peter Jackson was describing to him what sound people getting stabbed in the back should make. Lee gravely responded that he had seen people being stabbed in the back, and knew exactly what sound they made.

Christopher Lee - Sherlock HolmesThere is so much more I could say about his time in the war, but then this post would be so much longer than it already is. So I will finish this section with this, by the end of the war he’d received commendations for bravery from the British, Polish, Czech and Yugoslavian governments. And this was all before the age of 25.

Since then, he has had an amazing career, because besides the fact that he was a decorated hero, he was also amazingly talented—if the classically trained singer did not give it away, here is more:

Still early in his career, Lee dubbed foreign films into English and other languages including Jacques Tat’s “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday”. Sometimes he dubbed all the voices including women’s parts. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., recalled that Lee could do any kind of accent: “foreign, domestic, North, South, Middle, young, old, everything. He’s a great character actor”.

Lee spoke fluent English, Italian, French, Spanish and German, and was moderately proficient in Swedish, Russian and Greek. Lee stated in an interview that he was “conversationally fluent” in Mandarin.

Tid-bit: He was the original voice of Thor in the German dubs in the Danish 1986 animated film Valhalla, and of King Haggard in both the English and German dubs of the 1982 animated adaptation of The Last Unicorn.

Besides that, Lee was a world champion fencer.

Tid-bit: In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), in which he played the villainous Count Dooku. He did most of the swordplay himself, though a double was required for the long shots with more vigorous footwork. Lee’s face was imposed on the double’s body. Lee mentioned that in the last 40 years, he has done more sword fights than any other actor, but “not anymore.”

Mostly, he has played the villain, which he did so well that I wouldn’t even count it as a demerit, and he has been in so many films that he is in the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Screen Credits (2007) which was 244 at the time, starring in the most films with a sword fight (17 films), being the most connected actor along and being the Tallest Leading Actor.

Tid-bit: Guinness says that he connects to virtually any actor in 2.59 steps—take that Bacon!

golden-gun-leeHowever, he later admitted that his film work was not always chosen on quality but often on whether it could support his family. In fact, he has a history of being considerate to his loved ones, and caring for their well-being. And he got to be awesome while doing so.

Lee was engaged for a time in the late fifties to Henriette von Rosen, whom he met at a nightclub in Stockholm. Her father, Count Fritz von Rosen proved demanding, getting them to delay the wedding for a year, asking his London-based friends to interview Lee, hiring private detectives to investigate him, and asking Lee to provide him with references, which Lee obtained from Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., John Boulting and Joe Jackson. Lee found the meeting of her extended family to be like something from a surrealist Luis Buñuel film and thought they were “killing [him] with cream.” Finally, Lee had to have the permission of the King of Sweden to marry. Lee had met him some years before whilst filming Tales of Hans Anderson and received his blessing. However, shortly before the wedding, Lee ended the engagement. He was concerned that his financial insecurity in his chosen profession meant that she “deserved better” than being “pitched into the disheveled world of an actor.” She understood and they called the wedding off (though she must have later been saddened that it didn’t turn out that way).

Later, Lee was introduced to Danish painter and former model Birgit “Gitte” Krøncke by a Danish friend and his wife in 1960. They were engaged soon after and married on March 17, 1961. They had a daughter, Christina Erika Carandini Lee (b. 1963) and were still married upon his death.

Beyond the serious note there, Christopher Lee had some fun in his life.

He was on the cover of Paul McCartney’s 1973 Band on the Run album (seen below), as well as the video for the song—which was a making-of for the cover.

Band on the runAround 1988, Lee agreed to play a vampire once more in an unproduced Dutch/Belgian comedy that was to be called “Blooper.” The script, written by Frank van Laecke, was commissioned because of the physical resemblance between Lee and Dutch opera singer Marco Bakker, as noted by Bakker’s wife, actress Willeke van Ammelrooy. Lee, a great lover of opera, got along well with both of them. The story concerned an opera singer called Billy Blooper (Bakker) who learns his father (Lee) is a vampire who’s teeth had gone rotten after eating too many sweets. Now whenever he bites anyone, instead of turning into a vampire, they became half-human, half-chicken (which sounds ridiculously campy and fun—and is right up my horror alley).

And yes, the rumors are true, Christopher Lee loved Heavy Metal.

Lee’s first contact with heavy metal music was singing a duet with Fabio Lione, former lead vocalist of the Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody of Fire (and currently a member of Angra), on the single “The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream” from the Symphony of Enchanted Lands II album. Later he appeared as a narrator on the band’s four albums Symphony of Enchanted Lands II—The Dark SecretTriumph or AgonyThe Frozen Tears of Angels and From Chaos to Eternity as well as on the EP The Cold Embrace of Fear—A Dark Romantic Symphony, portraying the Wizard King. He also worked with Manowar while they were recording a new version of their first album, Battle Hymns. The original voice was done by Orson Welles (who was long dead at the time of the re-recording).  The new album, Battle Hymns MMXI, was released on November 26, 2010.

In 2006, he bridged two disparate genres of music by performing a heavy metal variation of the Toreador Song from the opera Carmen with the band Inner Terrestrials. The song was featured on his album Revelation in 2007.  The same year, he produced a music video for his cover version of the song “My Way.”

His first complete metal album was Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, which was critically acclaimed and awarded with the “Spirit of Metal” award from the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony, where he described himself as “a young man right at the beginning of his career”. It was released on 15 March 2010. In June 2012, he released a music video for the song “The Bloody Verdict of Verden”.

thewickermanOn his 90th birthday (May 27, 2012) he announced the release of his new single “Let Legend Mark Me as the King” from his upcoming album Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, signifying his move onto “full on” heavy metal. That makes him the oldest performer in the history of the genre. The music was arranged by Richie Faulkner from the band Judas Priest and features World Guitar Idol Champion, Hedras Ramos.

In December 2012, he released an EP of heavy metal covers of Christmas songs called A Heavy Metal Christmas.  He released a second in December 2013, entitled A Heavy Metal Christmas Too.  With the song “Jingle Hell,” Lee entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #22, thus becoming the oldest living performer to ever enter the music charts, at 91 years and 6 months. The record was previously held by Tony Bennett, who was 85 when he recorded “Body and Soul” with Amy Winehouse in March 2011. After media attention, the song rose to #18.

Lee released a third EP of covers in May 2014, to celebrate his 92nd birthday. Called Metal Knight, in addition to a cover of “My Way” it contains “The Toreador March”, inspired by the opera Carmen, and the songs “The Impossible Dream” and “I Don Quixote” from the Don Quixote musical Man of La Mancha. Lee was inspired to record the latter songs because, “as far as I am concerned, Don Quixote is the most metal fictional character that I know.” His fourth EP and third annual Christmas release came in December 2014 as he put out “Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing”, a playful take on “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” He explained: “It’s light-hearted, joyful and fun.…At my age, the most important thing for me is to keep active by doing things that I truly enjoy. I do not know how long I am going to be around, so every day is a celebration and I want to share it with my fans.”

Rock on Mr. Lee, ROCK ON!

Tid-Bit: His one outspoken regret, or at least claimed it as his biggest mistake, was that he turned down Donald Pleasence’s role as Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween (1978). Honestly, that would have been so amazing, but he did so many other fantastic roles that that one was no big loss.

dracula-ad-1972-20051028045902866-000I’m really glad that the last thing I saw him in was The Hobbit trilogy, because even though he is known for his villain roles, including Saruman, I always want to root for him, and seeing Saruman on the side of good felt like redemption, and a nice send off.

What I want to do now is to try to watch every film he was in—especially the ones I have no idea what they are about, like The Oblong Box (1969), and re-watch some that I didn’t realize he was in, like The Wicker Man (1973)—not the really bad Nick Cage remake, but the really interesting and thrilling original!

I suppose that will take me until I, myself, am 93. And in that way, and many others, I guess Christopher Lee really will live on forever.

The Misselthwaite Archives Adapts The Secret Garden on YouTube

With mother’s day just passing, I find myself reminiscing and missing more the things I use to do with my mom rather than past ways we celebrated the holiday. One of my fondest—and also possibly the nerdiest—is when we use to go to the library to rent VHS tapes. They were free but there was a limit of how many you could take out at a time and we were each allowed to pick just two of three. You might think two or three is a relatively large number for a nine year old but when you live in a house without cable a VHS tape is worth more in its ounces than gold!

My point is that it was on one of these public library treasure hunts that I first stumbled across The Secret Garden, an enchanting mysterious tale of a young girl who befriends a sickly boy and has magical adventures in a long forgotten garden. I watched the movie, completely enchanted to the point where I ended up having my mom hunt down the book for me and it is a piece of literature that I still re-read today as a twenty-something.

It seemed like a wonderful splash of serendipity when I found The Misselthwaite Archives—a web series adaptation of that same beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s that recreates the characters in a fresh modern way—on Youtube.

I was drawn in almost immediately when I realized this inventive adaptation bumps the characters ages up from adolescents to disgruntled teens, swaps a manor for an academy and the cholera that kills the original heroine’s family for a sudden accidental car crash.

I normally shy away from modern takes on classic tales, but this looks good—really good—and I’m actually kind of giddy that I found it while it’s still airing weekly!

Watch new episodes Wednesdays and Fridays at 9am on YouTube, and find all their multimedia accounts at MisselthwaiteArchives.com.

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass to Be Made into Film Series

10507293It is official, Kiera Cass’ series The Selection are becoming movies. After the CW lobbied to make a television series out of the soon to be quartet, Warner Bros has won the rights, according to Deadline Hollywood.

The Selection follows 35 under privileged girls who are chosen to compete for the hand of the crown Prince of Ilya. It is sort of like the Bachelor, but with a set in stone ending. The winner will become the Queen of Ilya and they must marry the prince. The story is centered on America Singer, a young girl who only entered the selection for the benefit of her family and at the request of the boy she is sweet on. The books follow her role in the selection and how she goes from young girl unsure of what she wants and what she stands for, to a young woman in the buddings of real love and a passion to make the world a better place.

I was actually pretty excited when I heard the news that they were going to be adapting it into a film instead of a TV series. I personally feel that the TV medium would not have been appropriate for this series. There is not enough meat to the books for it to stay true to the story line and characters.

What are your opinions? Do you think it would be a better TV series than movie? Any casting predictions or hopes? Leave us a comment below and be sure to look for reviews of the books and movies in later posts and podcasts.

Trailer Talk: Insurgent

Here is the trailer for the second installment of the Divergent series Insurgent.

I admit, it has been a good while since I read the book. I read it before the first movie came out. This trailer does seem to stay true to the story, though I am missing the recklessness behavior that Tris displays throughout the second book. It is only the first trailer though, I am sure there will be another. I also don’t recall the dream that she seems to be having about saving her mother from a burning house.

I think what I am looking forward to seeing the most is how Tris reacts to the fear serum. I remember the scene being fairly dramatic and as well as shocking since it actually works on Tris. Though, I am not looking as forward to seeing Tris’s character devolve after her parent’s death. I find that in most YA fiction, the heroine is not always likable. For example, I cannot stand the heroine from The Mortal Instruments series, Clary. Half of the time she is being a complete idiot and the other she is whining about how hard everything is. I just want to smack her. I got a small tickle of that feeling for Tris in this book. I realize that she feels guilty for the death of her parents and doesn’t know how to cope with the pain, but she becomes so selfish at some points that I just can’t stand it.

I am also really eager to see into the world of the factionless. And we get to meet a certain leader who becomes very significant to one of the main characters. I really want to see that dynamic on screen and see how they handle it.

What about you guys? What are you looking forward to seeing? What are you hoping they leave out? Leave your comments below.

Also, don’t miss out podcasts on Divergent the Book and the Film and keep your eyes open for our casts on the book and film for Insurgent.

Spine-tingling new trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey

Well then- is really all I could think to say after seeing the newest trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey. For those of you that don’t know, that is what I say when I really can’t express what I have just seen in words adequate enough for the situation. I really need to stop watching racy trailers at work. That aside, this trailer was a little more….well, MORE.

More charged. More erotic. More everything. I literally had that weird squishy-chill inducing feeling deep in my stomach. I have to applaud the people who cut this trailer together. They gave more of a story line to this installment then the last. You see Christian actively pursuing Anastasia and her, despite her better judgment, giving herself over to it.

It is intriguing and you can physically feel the anticipation building in your body as the trailer reaches its end. The choice of “Haunted” sung by Beyoncé was more than perfect as well.

What do you all think? Spine-tingling or were you left wanting? Leave your comments below!

Mockingjay, Part 1: The trailer so amazing, it needed its own trailer!

The OFFICIAL Mockingjay: Part 1 trailer is here! I am a little baffled by the fact that they advertised for this advertisement, but because I love this series, I will disregard this blatant capitalistic ploy for now.

We get our first real glimpses of District 13 and all I can say is: holy gray. I knew about the greyness of district thirteen, but seeing it is a whole different story. You can just feel the regimented nature leaping off the screen. It is definitely going to be interesting to see Katniss in that setting.

Also, I am really excited to see that they did not just drop Effie completely out of the movies like they did the books. Show of hands, who else always wondered what the heck happened to her? I always assumed they killed her off like Cinna, but that always made me really sad. Since they down played the prep team in the films, it makes sense that they would need Effie to make a semi-prep team for Katniss in 13.

This makes me wonder if they are going to waste any time on the period that Katniss completely falls apart after they arrive in 13. It definitely was not represented in the trailer which makes me think they might leave it out. I guess it makes sense though, in order to just move the story along. I am really looking forward to seeing the scenes of Katniss out with the people in District 8. I love when she shot down a ship with an arrow in the book; it looks just as awesome in the film!

So take a look at the trailer and let me know what you guys think. What are you most looking forward to seeing? Also, please feel free to comment on the fact that we needed an advertisement for an advertisement. I really want to know everyone’s thoughts on that.

For more fun and games on the Hunger Games, check out our podcasts on Catching Fire and The Hunger Games books and movies!

Fifty Shades Trailer Might Set You Reading

fifty shades of greyBy Corey Brooks

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James seemed to pop up out of nowhere and become a cult phenomenon overnight. Within 2 years her books have topped the best sellers list, plunged millions of women into the erotic world of BDSM and gotten many a man lucky after a weekend reading binge.

Now, with the approaching release of the movie, we have received this exciting little trailer to titillate us beyond belief. The novel follows young Literature graduate student Anastasia Steele on her journey of sexual awakening after she goes to interview Christian Grey. Grey, the owner and CEO of a multinational company, has unique and specific tastes when it comes to the world of male and female interaction. His troubled past has left him with the need to control even the most intimate parts of his life with an iron grip.


The cast promises to be very interesting, if the trailer is any indication. Jamie Dornan, who will be playing Christian Grey, is probably best known for his role of Sheriff Graham from Season 1 of Once Upon a Time. Though lacking the scruffiness of the lovely sheriff he is still every bit as sexy in his clean cut, high class suits and atmosphere. Anastasia Steele will be played by Dakota Johnson, a model and actress who has been dabbled in both TV and the big screen, seems to play meek and innocent perfectly.

To be frank, I have never had the interest in reading these books. Most people I have talked to has said, while they enjoyed the book, the writing itself was less and quality writing. I don’t mean to be a literature snob, but poorly written works tend to make me physically cringe. It must be my English back ground, but I could never see myself reading these books. However, this trailer has made me decide I might pick up that first book.

What are your thoughts? I want to know what you think of the trailer.

Those of you that have read the books, does it look accurate? Feel free to convince me to read the books. I am always open to being persuaded!

Jem and the Holograms: Casting News

The search has ended!

It has only been a month since director Jon M. Chu, Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun, and Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum announced that they were in the works of creating a Jem and the Holograms live-action adaptation of the 1985 animation. As I previously posted, they were doing a search for talented, new and fresh faces to star in this film via video auditions on Tumblr.

Jon M. Chu has now announced and released a teaser poster of the girls playing the main band, Jem and the Holograms:

*Aubrey Peeples as Jem
*Stefanie Scott as Kimber
*Hayley Kiyoko as Aja
*Aurora Perrineau as Shana




I don’t know about you, but I think the poster looks amazing! I shouldn’t be surprised that Raya has not been included, as she wasn’t added to the group until season 3, but I don’t know what storyline this film will cover yet. So far, no sources have reported on possible screenwriters, studios or release dates. This isn’t completely surprising given the unique path the production team has been traveling so far.

There also hasn’t been any news on further casting, such as Raymond, Rio, The Misfits, or Synergy, or any of the Starlight girls, if in fact they keep the foster home, Starlight House in, or any of the side characters like Video or Danse.

As production gets underway and these things get nailed down, I’m sure we’ll start getting more reveals. When that happens, I will be sure to keep you all informed.

So, are you as excited as I am about this? What do you think of the cast?

Let us know in the comments, or get in touch on Twitter (@AdaptationCast) or Tumblr.

Truly Outrageous 80s News! Jem and He-Man Films in the Works

jem-holograms-movie-comingHave you heard? If you haven’t this is something I personally am very excited about. Director Jon M. Chu, Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun, and “Paranormal Activity” Producer Jason Blum are in the works to create a modern adaptation of one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, Jem and The Holograms.

Jem and the gang were the ones who inspired me to believe that not only can girls rock out loud, but they can also do anything they put their minds to. Plus she made me dream of being a rock star.

The original cartoon first aired in 1985 and was written and created by Christy Marx. The story was about Jerrica Benton, her sister Kimber and their friends Aja and Shana. After the death of Jerrica and Kimber’s father, the girls fight with his second in command, the smarmy Raymond, for control of Starlight Records. Raymond has hired the nasty girl band The Misfits lead by the spoiled rotten Pizzazz and her two colleagues Roxy and Stormer to be the new face of Starlight Records. Jerrica worries that Raymond will ruin her fathers hard work, as well as deny her the money that has kept their foster home for girls, Starlight House up and running. But her father left her a gift- Synergy, a hologram computer program that allows Jerrica to become Jem and save the day. In the later season they add Raya on drums for the Holograms and Jetta, a sassy brit, to the Misfits, as well as other competitive bands, lots of friends, allys and enemies, and love interests for all the girls.

The series is hard to find on DVD, unfortunately. It had a release of it in the early 2000s but was quickly bought up, sold out and then discontinued. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the whole series back then, but now you can see clips of the show and music on YouTube. Have a peep at the opening credits below:

The best part about this announcement is that they are auditioning people via Tumblr! They want to get everybody involved and are asking for fan pictures and video as well as people auditioning who can sing, dance and act. All you have to do is post it on their Tumblr with the #JemTheMovie tag. For more details, check out this exclusive they posted on YouTube:

It is pretty amazing to see my childhood favorites come back into style, and Jon M. Chu has been channeling the 80s vibe with his G.I. Joe movies and by the power of Grayskull, it looks like He-Man is back too, as the director was in negotiations to direct a live-action adaptation of Mattel’s classic 80s toy line.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chu is in talks to helm the first He-Man movie since Dolph Lundgren‘s 1987 flop (which had little to do with the actual characters and setting beyond their names) and it’s based on a script entitled Grayskull, written by Alex Litvak and Mike Finch. The project is presently called Masters of the Universe and will ostensibly be bringing back all of our favorite characters from Eternia.

Being a child of the 80s, I would love to see He-Man return to the big screen (I actually quite like Lungrens version as well) and Skeletor is an awesome baddie. The question is, are they going to keep it fun, or will they go the grittier, more realistic route that many films like Man of Steel are taking?

When I first heard this news it seemed the choice of director was an interesting one. Chu is best known for Step Up 2, Step Up 3D and the Justin Bieber documentary Never Say Never. However, he has worked on toy-to-movie adaptations before, most recently being G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation, so he has some experience with kick-ass 80s action figures. Clearly, he knows what he is doing and I’m enjoying the 80s comeback.

Who would you like to see take on the role of He-Man? Perhaps Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth, or maybe Jai Courtney from A Good Day to Die Hard? Someone else?

As for Jem, I hope they do pick an unknown. There are so many great characters in the show and honestly, I would love to be one of them, not going to lie. So check out the Jem the Movie tumblr to join in the fun or even audition. I know I will!

If you could play any part in this, which character do you think you would fit? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to add any other thoughts or questions as well.

Showtime Synergy!


New Castings for Sondheim Make a Party in the Woods

I was scrolling through Tumblr today when I came across this pretty little screenshot of the IMDB page for Stephen Sondheim and Rob Marshall’s upcoming adaptation of Into the Woods.


Yep, that’s right! The page has exploded with new castings! And I don’t even know where to start! First of all, we’re clearly seeing another star-studded cast as in Mamma Mia and Les Miserables. It’s the price we have to pay for seeing Broadway on the big screen as a Hollywood production. The real question on everyone’s minds, though: The acting talent is clearly here, but can they sing? Or are we in for another Russell “And I am Javert” Crowe fiasco?

Well, James Corden at least has already been tested on the musical stage, with a Tony under his belt. So his casting as the Baker is one less thing to worry about. And according to her IMDB page, newly cast Baker’s wife Emily Blunt was briefly featured in ex-boyfriend Michael Bublé’s song “Me and Mrs. Jones” from his album “Call Me Irresponsible”. And if her bio page can be believed, is known as a “strong alto singer”. Johnny Depp of course had his day as Sweeny Todd, but what about Chris Pine? Or Jake Gyllenhaal? As far as we know, they have never hit a musical note…at least not professionally. And I know that I can’t be the only one with slight concerns.

But you know what? I’m still hoping for a positive attitude. I can’t bear to do otherwise. Because if Disney messes up Sondheim, I think I’m going to cry. Or turn back to Bernadette Peters for some serious Broadway therapy.

Comments? Commiseration? Concerns? Comfort? Post below.

To read our previous article about Into the Woods, click here.

Note: The artwork/poster associated with this article is not the official image for Into the Woods the movie. Adaptation was given permission to use this fan-made piece by its artist, Nathan, whose work can be found on his Tumblr page.

‘Cloud Atlas’ Directors Release a Trailer Complete with Commentary

We reported back in June that the adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas would be released October 26th. At the time, we really only knew about the book and it’s unique structure consisting of six nested stories. Now we have a bit more information about the upcoming film and an intense trailer to hike up the excitement.

The writers and directors, Tom Twkyer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, released a five-minute long trailer for their new film, including a little intro of them explaining how they decided to make the film in the first place.

And now for the trailer.

The film certainly has an all-star cast which includes Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant and Jim Broadbent. The poster, which was also recently released, highlights the extensive cast:

With all this new content, are you getting excited for the film? Leave your thoughts on the trailer in the comments.

Adaptation will be covering the novel and film in upcoming episodes, so stay tuned!

Simon Says ‘I’m Here’ in the cast of The Mortal Instruments

In a twist that surprised even Cassandra Clare herself, the casting for Simon Lewis has been determined for the upcoming Mortal Instruments film!  Though originally this news was not supposed to be released until July, our favorite author/blogger posted the whole story just yesterday—and made no secret of the fact that she is absolutely thrilled with the casting (no sarcasm whatsoever).

For those of you who haven’t read the books (yet), Simon serves as the ever-loyal Duckie to Clary’s Andie.  He’s the endearing best friend, sidekick—and happens to hold an unrequited love for the main character.  And, per usual, Clary is completely blind to it all.  To top it all off, Simon also spends a good portion of the first book as a rat—and I’m not speaking figuratively.

Can I get a sympathetic ‘aw’?

So who’s the lucky guy playing the unlucky-in-love Simon?  None other than Robert Sheehan from Cassandra Clare’s beloved TV show, Misfits.


Isn’t he cute?  And while I haven’t really seen him act in anything, he looks like he might be able to pull off the requisite endearing qualities, but what do you think?  Are you as happy about this casting as Cassandra Clare seems to be?

Oh, and as an added bonus…check out the sneak peek movie posters for City of Bones!  They have a certain minimalist appeal, don’t you think?