* Joining the likes of David Bowie, Nadine Gordimer and Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis has been named a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, France’s highest cultural honour. According to reports, France’s Culture Minister said the medal was to pay tribute to his contribution to film over the past thirty years, citing his diverse body of work from Moonrise Kingdom to Pulp Fiction and, of course, Die Hard.
*Phillip Lim was among the designers who showed their Fall 2013 collections on Monday and he delighted at Mercedes Benz NY Fashion Week-goers with his neoprene jackets and biker chic style. Meanwhile, drapes and capes, sometimes fused with leather, made their appearance at Donna Karan, and disco is back for Marc Jacobs!
* Punk comes under the spotlight at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s next fashion exhibition, to be held in May. Organizers say it will trace how high fashion has appropriated the subculture for its own . No doubt among the highlights will be Alexander McQueen’s corseted ball gown from 2008, with its patch-worked bodice of the Queen’s face with a safety pin through her nose.
* Among the films screening at the Berlin Film Festival this week is banned Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s latest one, Closed Curtain. Panahi, who defied a 20-year ban on filmmaking to secretly co-direct the film, continues to be one of the country’s most important filmmakers, even without being able to travel freely to show his work.
* And while 28 million Americans were watching the Grammys (a 30 % drop from last year), over 12 million others tuned into The Walking Dead. In spite of killing off main characters and firing lead production members , the show still seems to rule the TV pack with its record-setting audience numbers.
* The Rolling Stones have confirmed they will be playing four shows as part of the band’s 50th anniversary celebrations – London’s O2 Arena on November 25 and 29 & New Jersey’s Prudential Center on December 13 and 15.
* New York Comic Con wrapped up this weekend with a sneak peek at some of the new TV shows cropping up – from 666 Park Ave to The Following, starring Kevin Bacon. The event looks set to keep going from strength to strength.
* The hotly anticipated new season of The Walking Dead kicked off on Sunday, and we finally get to start seeing more of Michonne.
* Ben Affleck’s Argo may be gaining critical acclaim but Liam Neeson’s Taken 2 has won the box office for a second weekend.
* Denzel Washington’s latest film, Flight, closed the 50th anniversary of the New York Film Festival, opening with it talk of possible awards to follow.
Actress Danai Gurira is the hottest addition to The Walking Dead cast, playing Michonne, one of the most anticipated characters of the hit series. Michonne first made her appearance at the end of the second season finale, when she saved Andrea (Lauren Holden) from a walker, by decapitating it with her katana.
Here are 8 things to know about the actress and the character she plays:
- Danai was born in the US, but grew up in Zimbabwe. “I was born in Grinnell, Iowa, but at the age of 5, we went to Zim where I went to primary school and high school. I consider myself half and half, and I spend half my time there and half of it here (in the US). Oh, and she speaks some Shona too.
- Danai didn’t know she’d been cast as Michonne when the final season played out in March 2012. The role hadn’t been cast yet by the time the last shot of season 2 – in which Michonne makes her first appearance – was filmed. Viewers only saw the back of her character so it didn’t matter anyway that it was a stand-in.
- The New York University graduate had won theatre accolades for her off-Broadway work, and also appeared in movies like Restless City, and TV shows like Law & Order and Treme, before scoring this much-coveted role.
- The show’s creator Robert Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter, Danai ticked all the right boxes. “There’s a lot to that role, and Danai, more than any other actress, showed us that she could exhibit that strength and show what an intense character she could be and, at the same time, have that emotional core and be able to show a vulnerability to a certain extent that we don’t see much of but is definitely there.”
- At San Diego Comic Con, Danai expressed how ready she had been for the role: “What you see through the writing and vision of the creator, you add to it by bringing your full humanity and by really delving into the character’s background and their motives and fears, all those things can make a multidimensional character come to life. That’s how I’ve been trained from the beginning and how I’ve created characters in the past on the stage or through my playwriting.”
- The close friendship her character shares with Andrea on screen is mirrored in real life between Danai and Lauren Holden, who frequently sing to each other on set. Lauren says: “Andrea and Michonne are a wonderful combination. They genuinely love each other as people, and they’re battling the elements together so it’s really rich story-telling. It’s unexpected, in that it’s not in the comics, but it’s this wonderful, glorious departure. It’s great when women stick together…Danai is a wonderful addition to our cast, and she fits right in.”
- Speaking of fitting right in, Danai joined the cast in the full sense – they all live in the same apartment complex in Peachtree City, Georgia, where the show is filmed.
- Danai admits she was a little nervous to take on a character that people already love: “She already has her own built-in fanbase. Usually you create a character, but like with most comic genres, she’s a full entity on her own. It’s like she’s whispering in my ear: ‘don’t get me wrong, don’t mess this up.’
- The actress is a big philanthropist. She has an organization called Almasi Collaborative Arts, aimed at “incalcating professionalism in the arts in Zim. It’s based on specific experiences I had there. I decided to really just put my foot in it and make a full time commitment.”
The Walking Dead airs on Fox International on Top TV in South Africa, and on AMC in the US, Sundays from October 14th.
[This story originally appeared on msn.co.za]
* The Grammys gave Whitney Houston a final send-off on Thursday night, where stars like Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Jennifer Hudson and Usher shared their memories and performed in tribute to the late singer.
* Barbra Streisand had her Brooklyn homecoming at the Barclay’s Center, pleasing a sold-out crowd of 19 000 fans.
* Season 3 of the hit series The Walking Dead hits the small screen this weekend – and introduces us to the Governor and Michonne, two new pivotal characters.
* Ben Affleck’s Argo, which screened at the Toronto Film Festival, opens on the US cinema circuit this weekend, as Oscar buzz around the film grows.
* Queen guitarist Brian May has confirmed the Freddie Mercury biopic with Sacha Baron Cohen is due to start filming in Spring and should be released in 2014.
Pic: Tristar Pictures
I’m in San Diego! For the first time! And for the first time, I’m going to Comic-Con, along with about 100 000 other fans, authors, actors, publicists, Wonder-Woman-lookalikes, and fellow journalists. I’ve been told to expect a whole lot of wonderful madness, crazy costumes, and long lines that test patience levels far beyond the usual film-festival fare.
While at Comic-Con I’m looking forward to finding out first-hand what’s coming in the next season of The Walking Dead. After visiting the set in Georgia last year, I, like so many others, am eagerly waiting for the next episodes of the hit show. At this year’s Comic-Con, there’ll be a Walking Dead Escape event, which is an obstacle course where players will get to be chased by zombies while trying to climb over cars and cargo nets – just like in the show.
The comic book series celebrates its 100th issue during Comic-Con, and apparently this issue is a harrowing game changer. In the meantime, writer and creator Robert Kirkman will be unveiling some never-before-seen footage from Season Three. Can’t wait!
There are so many other big film panels taking place – Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley will talk about Eylsium, their next project working together after District 9; Quentin Tarantino is due to present his thoughts on Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, and of course the Twilight cast will be taking over Day 1 as they gather for the last time, to bid farewell to the franchise, ahead of the final film releasing in November. That’s not even mentioning the names Stan Lee or Joe Quesada yet. It’s going to be a fun-filled four days!