Dinner for Five: The Elder Statesmen of Hollywood I'd Seat Round My Table
I don’t know if there’s a name or a diagnosis for finding graying gentlemen attractive, but whatever it is, I have it. This is the group of distinguished actors I would love to have to dinner—my own version of Jon Favreau’s “Dinner for Five.” I just want to lock myself in with them at the Oak Bar, have a drink, take a coupla good puffs off a good cigar, and listen to them for the rest of my life. Who needs food?
“The greatest British stand-up comedian of his generation” and the “funniest man in England” has never been afraid to be who he is, nor to clarify when people mistakenly label him a drag queen or think his transvestitism is only part of an act. He’s easily transitioned to acting, and stands out in everything from the recent “Mockingbird Lane(-tastrophe)” to “The Riches,” to “Bullet in the Face.” He’s an active marathon runner who carried the Olympic torch through his hometown this year, and recently challenged himself to twenty-seven marathons in twenty-seven days, in honor of Nelson Mandela (he had to stop because of medical issues, but intends to try again). Izzard recently participated in Eric Idle’s play, What About Dick, and he’ll appear in the upcoming NBC show, “Hannibal.”
Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, X-Men, “Doctor Who…” Yes, “Doctor Who;” McKellen voiced the snowmen in the upcoming Christmas Special. This glorious man has been acting for fifty-three years, doing Shakespeare plays since he was twenty, and earning accolades even at the outset of his career. He is active in Lesbian and Gay rights, having co-founded the Stonewall charity group, as well as participating in groups to aid theater and the aged. He is delightfully charming and funny, and who wouldn’t want to listen to that distinguished voice forevermore?
Number One. Jean-Luc Picard was perhaps my favorite “Star Trek” captain (sorry Shat!), and the glorious Patrick Stewart continues to delight us at in his 70s—like McKellen, he’s been acting since 1959. Another Shakespeare aficionado, Stewart says he turned to acting to escape from childhood trauma, as his father was a violent alcoholic who would often attack Stewart’s mother. The stage became his alternate home, “a refuge.” From “The Next Generation” to A Christmas Carol, to X-Men, the twinkle in Stewart’s eyes mesmerizes…and reveals his wonderful humor. He sings, plays piano and races cars, and like Izzard, carried the Olympic torch this year.
Surprise! Snuck in THE Woman.
Where to start, where to start? How about with boobs?
At 67, Mirren is still as bawdy and beautiful and sexy and brilliant as she ever was—disproving every agist stereotype ever held. Acting since she was twenty, she’s been honored for her talent all along the way. At age twenty-five, a documentary about her— Doing Her Own Thing was made; Mirren was the youngest Royal Shakespeare Company actress. She’s won awards for television, theater and film, including the Golden Globe, SAG, Emmy and Oscar—and even she admits, “Being me right now is sort of amazing.” On top of all that, she (along with her husband, director Taylor Hackford) owns a mini-castle!
At 24, Stamp made his film debut in Billy Budd, and won an Academy Award nomination. At 74, he’s still headlining movies (A Song for Marion), he writes memoirs and co-authored a cookbook, he sings, and lends his voice to video games and documentary narrations. He’s worked with Wyler and Fellini, been a Queen of the Desert and The Limey and Superman’s memorable General Zod. He’s humble (“…I can do ordinary, but it’s not my best thing.”), and funny (“Everyone’s gonna know how old I am — I can’t go back to being a romantic lead after I’ve done the OAP [Old Age Pensioner]!”), and he gives careful advice. In a recent interview, Stamp offers to Michael Shannon (who’ll be playing Zod in Man of Steel), “All I can say is he needs to be very present. When I walked onto that set I’d been in an ashram for a year, learning to separate orgasm from ejaculation. I was rechanneling the lifeforce and I hadn’t been working, and when I walked on the set, it seemed like everyone was asleep, but I was so, so ready. The only guy who was really up for it was Brando — he totally understood where I was coming from.”
Who would your five table mates be?
…yes, I can count and yes, this would really be dinner for six. But I probably won’t eat. And yes, I know they don’t technically belong to Hollywood.
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