Martin Landau: 1928 – 2017

Not a good day for losing icons. Legendary actor Martin Landau passed away at age 89. Landau made his film debut as a henchmen in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, and was a regular presence on both the big screen and the small screen thereafter massing a huge body of work from wide-screen epics Cleopatra and the Greatest Story Ever Told, to Mission:Impossible, Columbo and Space 1999 on the boobtube.

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He was especially beloved for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s masterpiece, Ed Wood, and went on to work with Burton a few more times (doing voice work in Frankenweenie) and uncredited in Sleepy Hollow. His wicked smile, could shift on a dime to a long intimidating face, which allowed the actor equal comfort as the villain or the hero, and later on (see his Judge character in poker drama, Rounders) a father figure. In real life, he also offered his services as an acting coach and played some part in training Jack Nicholson, Harry Dean Stanton (who is a couple years older than Landau) and Angelica Huston among others.

As a young man, he hung out with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, and as an older gentlemen, he remained working right up until his recent passing. His career had ups and downs, but he never faded away, and was one of those A-list character actors that are rare these days.

VanityFair has more.

Soderbergh’s Next is 3D Cleopatra Musical

Steven SoderberghOh dear. They say that reality is stranger than fiction and when you read stuff like this, one can’t help but agree with that sentiment.

Forget the fact that for his next film, The Girlfriend Experience, director Steven Soderbergh will be giving pornstar Sasha Grey pointers (not really weird, just unexpected) but his follow up is even more unexpected. Soderbergh will apparently be directing a 3D live-action rock ā€™nā€™ roll musical about Cleopatra titled Cleo. It’s not April Fools so this is apparently the read deal but wow, does it ever sound strange.

Soderbergh is said to be courting Catherine Zeta-Jones to play the Egyptian queen and Hugh Jackman to play Marc Antony and though neither casting choice surprises me all that much (Jackman did appear in “Oklahoma!”) the very fact that he’s looking to make a movie musical, in 3D no less!, is off the chart even for Soderbergh.

Variety goes on to report that the music has been written by indie rock band Guided by Voices (who I’m only familiar with thanks to a not-so-great cover by The Dandy Warhols of “I Am a Scientist” – which is a really great song), with a script is by author and former band member James Greer.

Weird, weird, weird.