Larry Vaughn with Mentora Vaughn Gratrix

Archive for the ‘Actors’ Category

Snowed In? Great Movie Pick…

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I also hope that I am occasionally involved in projects that touch other people in ways that make their lives a little better, more interesting for the moment that makes them think.
—Jim Caviezel

Life certainly has its challenges. I keep hearing about different people who are hurting or are struggling with the trials of life. So, I love when a good story—especially a true story—encourages my heart. If you’re snowed in this weekend and maybe a little depressed because it’s the end of February and there’s still snow on the ground, I suggest you pop some popcorn, start a fire in the fireplace (well, I switch mine on), grab a cozy throw, and find a comfy spot to sit as I have a movie that will not only warm your heart but will inspire you to want to make a difference in the lives of others. Last fall TriStar Pictures released When the Game Stands Tall. The movie is inspired by the extraordinary true story of the De La Salle High School football team and their record-setting 151 game winning streak. When the Game Stands Tall stands much taller than most of the run of the mill sports movies as this film has a solid cast and a good director.

game stands tall

Sports’ enthusiasts won’t be disappointed as When The Game Stands Tall is laced with many exciting grid iron moments. But what really makes this movie stand out as something extra special is it’s a true-to-life drama that tells the story of a most remarkable and successful coach who would rather see his students mature in character and personal integrity than win football games. When the press asked Coach Ladouceur (played by Jim Caviezel) what his secret is for winning, he commented, “Winning a lot of football games is doable. Teaching kids there’s more to life, that’s hard.” Laura Dern does an excellent at playing the role of Bev, Coach Ladouceur’s wife, and Michael Chiklis also does a most memorable job in playing Coach Ladouceur’s assistant coach, Terry Eidson.

Would love your thoughts on the movie. Enjoy!

Trivia: Question: Jim Caviezel played the lead role in which top grossing R-rated film of all time? What did the film gross?

Answer: The Passion of the Christ; $611.9 million

Don’t Miss Oprah’s Diamond in the Rough…

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Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.

For most of my married life, I have enjoyed delicious meals around the family table that Doneata prepared with love. About ten years ago when I retired and Doneata went to work for a cardiologist’s office, I decided it was time for me to try my hand in the kitchen. I thought it was only fair that if Doneata was going to go to work, I should take care of the home and meals for her. I got online and googled recipes. At first, it was a lot of trial and error, but I came to enjoy what I once feared—cooking meals in the kitchen. What I have learned while trying different recipes is that when seasoned correctly foods that at first don’t sound appealing can actually be quite tasty.

So, why all the food talk? Because Doneata and I recently watched the 2014 fall release of the comedy drama, The Hundred-Foot Journey. This little picture opened last fall without a massive marketing blitz as many films do. According to Box Office Mojo, whose job it is to track the Hollywood movie grosses, Journey came in ranked number fifty-seven of the top one hundred grossing films of 2014, which means a lot of people missed this great little film.

In 2009 Sony Pictures released Julie & Julia, which would certainly play to the same audience as The Hundred-Foot Journey. Both films have an A actress in the lead role. Julie & Julia has the actors’ actor, Meryl Streep, in the starring role; and The Hundred-Foot Journey has Helen Mirren in the lead role. Helen Mirren is not as popular as Meryl Streep; however, she is one of Hollywood’s greatest actors. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress as Queen Elizabeth II in the movie The Queen.

What I appreciate most about Journey is how the issues that the characters struggle with are very true to life. Journey is not only a story about food: the storyline is rich—filled with love, family, hardships, disagreements, life-changing decisions, and joy. Journey celebrates the simple things in life and is a delight to the senses. From the beautiful scenic landscape of Southern France to a superb cast of characters, Journey makes for a most enjoyable movie experience.

After watching Julie & Julia I came away with a deeper appreciation for, of all things, butter! After watching The Hundred-Foot Journey I have that same appreciation for herbs and eggs. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the film.

Trivia: What two industry giants teamed up to produce The Hundred-Foot Journey along with Juliet Blake?

Answer: Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey

This Crazy Untold Story Made Sylvester Stallone Famous…

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I believe any success in life is made by going into an area with a blind, furious optimism.
—Sylvester Stallone

Rocky! How did Sylvester Stallone come to play Rocky? Here’s the crazy untold story that made Sylvester Stallone famous. Here’s a conversation I had with my former boss, Eddie Stern, the head of the film department at Wometco Theatres in Miami, Florida. Here’s an excerpt from Hollywood’s Chosen, available today on Amazon.

Well, the rest is history. Rocky, the little picture I was forced to play on its release date, turned out to be the biggest-grossing film of 1976. It grossed over two hundred and twenty-five million dollars domestically and was honored with three Academy Awards, including the coveted Best Picture of the Year.
Now as the late Paul Harvey might have said, “Here is the rest of the story.”
Eddie returned from a trip to New York several months after the successful opening of Rocky. Later, during lunch with me, Eddie started laughing as he said, “Larry, have I got a funny story to tell you. I got this scoop from an attorney friend of mine, Jonas, at United Artists. Jonas said that when Rocky went into production, no one at the office had actually seen the actor, Sylvester Stallone. But Stallone really wanted to play the lead, since he wrote the story. Management asked to see some of his work. Stallone in 1974 had a supporting role in The Lords of Flatbush, with Perry King and Henry Winkler. When the guys at UA watched a reel of Flatbush, they got the actors mixed up. They took King for Stallone and, of course, Stallone for King. After watching the film footage, they agreed to move forward with the production of Rocky with Stallone in the lead role. Now again, they thought they were signing off on King in the lead role.” Eddie had to pause to wipe the tears of laughter from his eyes.
“Larry, this is unbelievable! Are you with me?”
“Yes, I got it. It sounds too funny to be true.”
“Okay, so later the brass wanted to see some rushes during the filming of Rocky. While watching the rushes, they asked, ‘Where is Stallone?’ They were watching Stallone on the screen, but they were looking for Perry King. They ended up having to call someone into the screening to identify Stallone.” Eddie couldn’t stop laughing. He tried to continue, “Some mix-up, huh! The studio thought Perry was Stallone, and they green lighted the film with the wrong man in the lead.”
“That is one crazy story!” I replied.
“But, Larry, it is real! Jonas was a witness to it all.” Eddie jokingly added, “Now, nine months later, one might ask the question, who is Perry King? And, as for Stallone, why every moviegoer living on planet Earth knows who Stallone is and what he looks like! I’m not sure who it was who first coined the phrase, ‘There are no geniuses in the film business!’ But whoever it was sure knew what they were talking about!”

America’s Sweetheart: Sandra Bullock

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Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts. You have to remember this when you find yourself at the beginning.
—Sandra Bullock

Did you know that Sandra grew up speaking German? She spent the first twelve years of her life in Nuremburg, Germany. Her father, John, worked for the Army. John met Helga, the love of his life, and they were married while he was stationed in Nuremburg. Helga was an opera singer and voice teacher. Later, John and Helga were blessed with two daughters, Sandra and Gesine. Years later, the Bullock family moved to Arlington, Virginia (Sandra was actually born in Arlington) as her dad became a contractor for the Pentagon. During her high school years, Sandra was a cheerleader, and she also performed in high school theater productions. After high school, Sandra enrolled and graduated from East Carolina University where she received a degree in drama in 1986. Her younger sister, Gesine, is a lawyer and VP of Fortis Films, which is Sandra’s production company.

Sandra rose to fame starting in the 1990s with roles in films such as Demolition Man, Speed, and A Time to Kill. In 2000 to 2013 she made a string of successful films starting with Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice, Crash, The Proposal, and The Blind Side (which won her the Best Actress Academy Award). The 2012 Guinness World Records lists Sandra as the highest paid actress with a stunning $56 million picture deal. Sandra’s most successful film critically and commercially is the 2013 film Gravity, which grossed over $716 million at the box office.

Since Sandra’s debut as an actress/producer, she has been dubbed in the media as “America’s Sweetheart,” due to her nature which has been described as “friendly, and direct and so unpretentious.”

So, enjoy this trailer from our favorite Sandra Bullock film, The Blind Side. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-see!


1. Sandra was not the first choice to star in Gravity. Which actress passed on the lead role in Gravity?

2. What is Sandra consistently known for doing?

3. Who has been her manager since 1996?

Answers: 1. Angelina Jolie; 2. Giving—she regularly gives generously to a variety of needy organizations; 3. Her father








Overcoming Obstacles: Robert Downey, Jr.

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Hollywood has the biggest heart in the world, and if there is any place where someone would be forgiven, it’s this town.
Tom Sherak, Former President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Because of their celebrity status, it is hard for many of us to think of actors as everyday people who often have the same struggles in life that we do. And yet the Hollywood crowd is more like us than you might think. Be it health issues, finances, marital problems, drug abuse, or whatever the case might be, just because they are actors doesn’t mean their life is a whole lot better than yours or mine.

Robert Downey, Jr., like many, has experienced his share of the ups and downs in the rollercoaster of life. Being the son of an actor, Robert started his acting career at the age of five. His first great role came in 1992 when he starred as Charlie Chaplin, the title character in the film Chaplin, which earned him the nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. After Chaplin, Downey’s drug addiction became a huge problem for not only his career but his personal life as well.

After being released in 2000 from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison where he was on drug charges, Downey was cast in the television show Ally McBeal. Later, he was fired from the show and his character was written out when he was arrested in late 2000 and early 2001. The judge sentenced Robert to another stay in a court-ordered treatment program. Sounds like what we had here was a talented but out-of-control man. Thankfully, this time around, Robert got his substance abuse under control.

Now fast forward to 2014. After a string of successful films, Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, Zodiac, three Iron Man films, and let’s not forget The Avengers, Robert Downey went from being a big risk for a studios to even consider him for a role in a feature film, to being the highest paid actor two years running. His salary for 2013 and 2014 is a whopping $150 million—making him the highest paid actor in the world.

It looks like Tom Sherak got it right when he said, “Hollywood has the biggest heart in the world, and if there is any place where someone would be forgiven, it’s this town.” This story does make me pause and reflect on forgiveness and giving second, third, and even fourth chances. While everyone desires forgiveness, it’s often so hard to forgive and even harder to forgive again. However, we are supposed to forgive not just “seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Movie trivia:

Who offered Robert his first joint of marijuana and how old was Robert at the time?

Answer: 5 years old by his father

As a child who was one of Robert’s favorite comic book characters?

Answer: Ironman