BILLY BOB THORNTON (Hank Grotowski)
Academy Award-winning writer, actor and director, Billy Bob Thornton has an extensive and impressive career in motion pictures, television and theatre. Charismatic and uniquely talented, Thornton has established himself as one of the most sought after filmmakers of his generation.
The 1996 release of the critically acclaimed and phenomenally popular feature film "Sling Blade," which he starred in and directed from an original script he wrote, firmly secured Thornton's status as a preeminent filmmaker. For his efforts, he was honored with both an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The film, produced by The Shooting Gallery and released by Miramax, also starred Robert Duvall, JT Walsh, Dwight Yokam and John Ritter.
Prior to "Sling Blade," Thornton already had an extensive motion picture credit list. He wrote and starred in the thrilling character drama "One False Move," which brought him immediate critical praise. Thornton's powerful script (co-written with Tom Epperson) was enhanced by his intense performance as a hunted criminal. The film, directed by Carl Franklin, was an unheralded sleeper success.
In addition, Thornton has been featured in such films as "The Winner," for director Alex Cox, Paramount Pictures' "Indecent Proposal" directed by Adrian Lyne, Deadman, for director Jim Jarmusch for Miramax, and in Tombstone, directed by George Cosmatos for Buena Vista Pictures. Thornton has also appeared in the films "On Deadly Ground," "Bound By Honor," "For the Boys" and "The Stars Fell on Henrietta. "
As a writer, Thornton has worked on numerous projects for United Artists, Miramax, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. , Touchstone Pictures, Island Pictures, David Geffen Productions and HBO. He also scripted "A Family Thing," a highly regarded feature film that starred Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones, for UA.
Thornton co-starred in the blockbuster action-adventure film "Armageddon" with Bruce Willis for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and he also co-starred opposite Sean Penn in "U-Turn," directed by Oliver Stone and in "Primary Colors" opposite John Travolta and Emma Thompson for director Mike Nichols. He also starred in the dark comedy "Pushing Tin" opposite John Cusack.
Thornton received both an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his celebrated work in the tightly-woven drama "A Simple Plan" for director Sam Raimi. He also garnered a Best Supporting Actor award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Best Supporting Actor nomination from the Screen Actors Guild.
More recently, Thornton directed "All the Pretty Horses," based on the Cormac McCarthy best-selling novel. The film was shot entirely on location and stars Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz and Henry Thomas, and opened last Christmas, which also saw the opening of "The Gift," starring Cate Blanchette, Giovanni Ribisi and Hilary Swank, which Thornton co-wrote.
Thornton has also completed production on "Daddy and Them," which he directed, wrote and stars in. He also recently filmed "Wakin' Up in Reno. "
Thornton will be seen this fall starring in "The Man Who Wasn't There," a new Coen Brothers film that had its world premiere at the recent Cannes Film Festival.
Thornton is can currently be seen on screen opposite Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchette in the hit comedy "Bandits. "
HALLE BERRY (Leticia Musgrove)
Halle Berry is a beautiful and talented actress who has built a successful career on embracing demanding roles, both in television and films. Berry has been honored with such prestigious awards as an Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and NAACP Image Award for her extraordinary and critically acclaimed performance in HBO's film, "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. "
Her latest film, "Swordfish," with John Travolta and Hugh Jackman, opened in theatres at #1. Directed by Dominic Sena and executive produced by Joel Silver, Berry starred as Ginger, a sexy femme fatale who may not be what she appears.
She was recently seen in 20th Century Fox's box office hit "X-Men," the action film based on the Marvel Comics characters. She is attached to star in its sequel, which is currently being written.
Berry has also starred opposite Warren Beatty in Fox's critically acclaimed socio-political comedy, "Bulworth. " Directed and co-written by Beatty, "Bulworth" earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Beatty and co-writer, Jeremy Pikser.
Other feature film credits include "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever," "Losing Isaiah" opposite Jessica Lange, "Executive Decision" with Kurt Russell (for which she won a Blockbuster Award for Best Actress in an Action Drama), the international hit live-action version of "The Flintstones" with John Goodman, "The Rich Man's Wife," "The Last Boy Scout," "Strictly Business" and Reginald Hudlin's "Boomerang" opposite Eddie Murphy.
On television, Berry starred in the highly rated ABC mini-series, Oprah Winfrey Presents: "The Wedding. " Directed by Charles Burnett, the mini-series also starred Lynn Whitfield, Eric Thal and Carl Lumbly.
Additional television credits include the title role in Alex Haley's mini-series, "Queen. " The highest rated sequel in television history, her performance earned Berry the NAACP Image Award for Best Actress, as well as Best Newcomer Award from the Hollywood Women's Press Club. Berry also starred opposite Jimmy Smits in Showtime's original telefilm, "Solomon and Sheba. "
Last year, in recognition of her achievements as an actress, the Harvard Foundation at Harvard University honored Berry as Cultural Artist of the Year. Currently, she serves as an International Spokesperson for Revlon.
HEATH LEDGER (Sonny Grotowski)
Ledger was last seen starring in Columbia's "A Knight's Tale. " In this medieval film, he portrayed a peasant squire who takes on the identity of his master when the knight suffers an untimely demise. The film is directed by Brian Helgeland ("L. A. Confidential"), who also wrote the screenplay. Ledger is currently reteaming with Brian Helgeland for his next project "Sin Eater" for Twentieth Century Fox.
In addition to "Monster's Ball," Ledger will also soon star in the highly anticipated feature, "Four Feathers," for director Shekhar Kapur ("Elizabeth"). Based on A. E. W. Mason's novel "The Four Feathers," the story, set in 1898, follows a British officer (Ledger) who resigns his post before his nation's invasion of Sudan. His friends and fiancee send him four white feathers, symbolizing cowardice, but he redeems his honor by disguising himself as an Arab and secretly saving the lives of those who branded him a coward.
Ledger starred in the Touchstone release "10 Things I Hate About You," a modern day telling of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew. " In the film, he portrayed 'Patrick Verona' ("Shrew's" 'Patruchio'), a sullen youth with a mysterious past. He is bribed by a friend to woo and win over the heart of 'Kat Stratford' (Julia Stiles), an ill-tempered harridan, whose acerbic wit is only matched by her steadfast determination to alienate any guy who might be remotely interested in her.
It was in Ledger's home town of Perth, Australia, where his acting career took flight. At the age of ten, he enrolled in the local theatre company and, while performing on stage, began landing roles on such Australian television series' as "Clowning Around," "Bush Patrol," "Corrigan," "Ship to Shore" and "Home and Away. "
Ledger was also a member of two highly reputable Australian theatre companies, the Globe Shakespeare Company and the Midnight Youth Acting Company. While he performed on stage, he also completed co-starring roles in a number of independent films: "Black Rock," "Paws," and most recently, "Two Hands," in which he stars opposite Bryan Brown. This dark comedy screened at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
In 1997, Ledger landed a starring role in his first American television series, "Roar," for Universal and FOX television. The mid-season replacement, which also co-starred Keri Russell ("Felicity"), didn't take Heath too far from home, filming in Queensland, Australia. It was directly after this series that he landed his first American talent agent and decided to make his move to the United States.
PETER BOYLE (Buck Grotowski)
"Everybody Loves Raymond's" favorite 'Frank Barone' is one of the country's most beloved small screen characters, for which Peter Boyle has been honored this year with a third Emmy Award nomination.
The former Christian Brothers monk, who met his wife of 25 years while in full monster make up for "Young Frankenstein" is one of the premier character actors of our time, having appeared on the big screen opposite Robert Redford, Robert DeNiro, Bill Murray, Nicholas Cage and countless others.
His unique talent makes him a practitioner of a vanishing art - - an actor so versatile that he can go from playing comedic roles to dramatic parts without flinching. Boyle's breakthrough role in the film "Joe," where he played a drunken factory worker named 'Joe Curran,' who hates hippies, blacks, and anyone who is "different," is the complete antithesis of Boyle whose political views are way left.
In 1971, when offered the lead in "The French Connection, " Boyle turned it down, fearing the public would again identify him as a right wing, political cousin of "Joe. " After a stream of steady television and film work including a star turn as Senator Joseph McCarthy in a 1977 NBC mini-series for which he is very proud, Boyle went on to win an Emmy for a guest spot on a 1996 episode of "The X Files. "
This year, he celebrates his third Emmy nomination for his portrayal of 'Frank Barone' in "Everybody Loves Raymond. "
Boyle's other credits include: "The Candidate," "Taxi Driver," "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure," "The Santa Clause," "While You Were Sleeping," and "Dr. Dolittle. Among his television credits are the CBS mini-series "Echoes in the Darkness," and the television films "Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North," "The Tragedy of Flight 103: The Inside Story," and "In the Lake of the Woods. "
He was born in Northtown, Pa. , and now lives in New York.
SEAN COMBS (Lawrence Musgrove)
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has torn down the barricades that segregated music for so long. Through both his own music and music he has produced, Combs has allowed different genres of music, among them hip-hop, pop, soul, rap and underground, to integrate. In the process, he has given birth to a whole new musical form. As CEO and founder of Bad Boy Entertainment, a chart-dominating producer, a rapper and pop phenomenon, and most recently, a film actor (opposite Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau in "Made"), Combs has become one of today's most accomplished - and unforgettable - personalities.
Combs attended Howard University in Washington, D. C. , but his real education began working for Andre Harrell (current president of Bad Boy Entertainment). For his first assignment, 20-year-old Combs constructed the careers of Uptown artists Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. In the process, he helped to create a new musical genre: hip-hop soul. His collaboration with Mary
J. Blige on her second album, "My Life," produced a classic that spoke to a new generation of youth. When Combs left Uptown in 1993, he reemerged the very same year with a groundbreaking new company of his own, Bad Boy Entertainment.
Bad Boy''s break can be credited mostly to the making and launching of Notorious B. I. G. 's debut album "Ready to Die," which eventually earned double-platinum status. Bad Boy also signed and produced such platinum acts as Faith Evans (then wife of Notorious B. I. G. ), female trio Total, and male vocal group 112. Combs then also involved himself in several projects as
producer, executive producer, remixer and occasional singer in outside projects including hits by Mariah Carey, TLC, Usher, Tony Thompson, Tevin Campbell, Method Man, MC Lyte, Lil' Kim and others.
In 1997, Combs released his own solo album debut, "No Way Out. " The album generated nearly two dozen industry award nominations and won two Grammy awards, including Best Rap Album of the Year.
In 1999, Sean released his second album, "Forever," which enjoyed multi-platinum success. With hits like "Satisfy You" (which earned #1 single on both Billboard's Rap and R&B charts) and "Best Friend," "Forever" demonstrated that Combs ability to innovate and entertain has only improved with time. Most recently, Combs launched the careers of Black Rob and Carl Thomas, both of whom have already dominated charts and are being celebrated by fans across the world.
MOS DEF (Ryrus Cooper)
Mos Def is an MC whose devotion to hip-hop and passion for social consciousness combine with a synergy seldom witnessed in rap history. Mos Def is a child of hip-hop's Golden Era of superhero MCs (Rakim, Big Daddy Kane) and new school leaders (De La Soul, Jungle Brothers). A native Brooklynite, Mos Def grew in time where "most of the people who were fans (of hip hop) were also active fans in the culture in some way. Mos not only imbedded all the hip-hop influences around him, he also absorbed knowledge from across the artistic spectrum.
Encouraged by his younger brother (Medina Green's DCQ) Mos Def first graced a record with UTD's "My Kung Fu" in 1994. Mos was clearly a talent to watch and would go on to make indelible cameo appearances on songs like the Bush Babee's "Love Song" and De La Soul's "Big Brother Beat. "
It was only a matter of time that Mos would find his way to a solo at indie upstart Rawkus. There, Mos found a label willing to play by 'his' rules: "I liked being a free agent, I liked negotiating my own terms, working with my own friends," he says. The result was the instant classic "Universal Magnetic" in 1996, a single that would catapult Mos into an underground favorite.
In 1999, Mos Def release his first solo album, entitled Black On Both Sides, the album speaks to Mos' firm anchor in the lived experience of quotidian life as a black person.
With Black On Both Sides, Mos Def taps into a centuries old tradition of black expression that is both historically relevant and imaginative as well.
Perhaps one of the album's most striking songs is the simply titled "Hip Hop," a short but powerful reflection on rap music's complex culture and industry, Mos runs through a brilliant, powerful set of metaphoric distillations of hip-hop comparing music to "a backwater remedy, bitter and tender memory, a class E felony, facing the death penalty. " He ends with the ominous warning, "hip hop will simply amaze you, praise you, pay you, do whatever you say to, but black, it can't say you. "
This admonition from Mos bespeaks a deep wisdom frightening to consider…that hip-hop, for all its beauty and power, still can't redeem your humanity.
CORONJI CALHOUN (Tyrell Musgrove)
Louisiana native (need to check this) Coronji Calhoun was chosen from an open casting call to portray Halle Berry's son Tyrell in the upcoming film "Monster's Ball. " Before this break, the 10-year-old's only acting experience had been in school plays like "Rumpelstiltskin" and Christmas plays. Like many 4th graders, Coronji likes to play basketball, video games, and skate in his free time. He also loves to dance. He plans on continuing his acting career and is currently looking at scripts for his next possible project.