Meryl’s girls pick a winner for their Oscar winning mother
Good choice: Mamie (left) and Grace Gummer got it right
We can thank Meryl Streep’s daughters for giving the actress her mojo back.
She thought she had no chance of winning the Best Actress Oscar – all the so-called experts said the statuette had Viola Davis’s name on it for her performance in The Help.
When Mamie and Grace Gummer saw what their mother Meryl originally planned to wear to Sunday’s Oscars, they told her to get it off – and replace it with a gown that made her look like a winner.
That’s where the gold lam Lanvin gown came in. It was made from old plastic bottles – that’s what Colin Firth’s wife Livia told me.
She organised eco-friendly dresses and suits (Kenneth Branagh wore one) for the Oscar red carpet, including the dress chosen by Streep’s daughters for the ceremony.
And she duly picked up the award for her brilliant portrait of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Streep and her representatives refused to divulge the provenance of the dress dumped by the Gummer girls (they use the name of their dad Don Gummer, who’s been wed to Meryl since 1978).
A salesman you simply can’t refuse
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman complains that his son Biff – played by Andrew Garfield – is a ‘lazy bum’.
Later on in the new production of Death Of A Salesman on Broadway, Willy’s wife Linda calls her younger son, Happy, played by Finn Wittrock, a ‘philandering bum’.
Those lines have always been in Arthur Miller’s classic play, but I just hadn’t heard them before.
Death of a Salesman: Triumphant performances from Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield and Finn Wittrock
I first saw Arthur Miller’s play in a production starring Warren Mitchell at the National Theatre when I was really too young to grasp what it was about.
Then, when I lived in New York way back when, I caught Dustin Hoffman, and years later I saw Brian Dennehy play Willy in New York and London.
Each time, it spoke to me in a different way. But I think this time I must have heard it as if it were a brand new play, not one first staged 63 years ago.
Old or new, it’s the best play on Broadway.
Director Mike Nichols’ production sizzles at the Ethel BarrymoreTheatre and demands you give it the attention it so richly deserves.
I was so thunderstruck by the play and the performances by Hoffman, Garfield, Wittrock and Linda Emond as Linda Loman, that I wanted to make sure my jet-lagged mind wasn’t playing tricks on me.
So, I saw it for a second time on Wednesday and I was thunderstruck again, not least because the performances seemed to have grown in stature to the level of greatness.
Never better: Andrew Garfield is a triumph in the play
This happens so rarely in the theatre that particular attention must be paid to this play about an ordinary man who, as Linda puts it, is like a boat looking for a harbour, and his sons who can’t find their ways in life.
It’s a triumph for the four leads. U.S. audiences will be bowled over by Garfield (making his Broadway debut before The Amazing Spiderman film starring him and Emma Stone opens) because they had no clue he came from the theatre.
I’ve been watching him his whole career and he has never been better. On Wednesday, Kim Cattrall, of Sex And The City fame, Lou Reed and I discussed why this particular production soars.
We worked out that it is the combination of brilliant acting, sublime direction and Jo Mielziner’s original scenic design, which has the four Lomans living cheek by jowl in a house with walls so thin that if you sneezed, hats next door would scatter.
Ivana Primorac’s make-up is cool, too, and so is Alex North’s original score.
I beg you not to miss it.
Tim Rice arrives in New York today to meet with Des McAnuff, the artistic director of the Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, about his excellent production of Jesus Christ Superstar which began previews last night.
I loved it when I saw it at Stratford last year and predicted it would head to Broadway.
Rice will also check in with Michael Grandage to discuss his production of Evita which stars Argentinian actress Elena Roger (she did it in London) and Ricky Martin. Evita previews begin March 12.
Ruth Wilson holds her own
British actress Ruth Wilson is more than holding her own with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer on the Lone Ranger movie set. ‘She doesn’t get to say “Hi-ho, Silver”,’ director Gore Verbinski told me.
‘Her character’s more likely to sock you one first,’ he chuckled. Verbinski has just started directing it in New Mexico.
He cast Keira Knightley in the first Pirates Of The Caribbean film and now he’s spotted Ruth.
‘I saw Ruth on TV and had my eye on her for a long time to be in The Lone Ranger,’ he told me, before winning the Oscar for best animated film for Rango (also starring Depp).
Ruth was a sensation in the TV drama Luther and in the title role of Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse. Now she will play Rebecca Reid, the sister-in-law of the Lone Ranger (Hammer).
Verbinski says her character is ‘as hard as nails’. Depp plays the Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto.
Watch out for…
Rachel McAdams, who will be joined by Paul Anderson – her co-star in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows film – in Brian De Palma’s revenge thriller Passion. It will also star another Holmes star, Noomi Rapace.
De Palma’s film will shoot in Berlin later this month. It’s a huge break for Anderson, who also has a role in forthcoming film The Sweeney.
Mark Coulier – winner of an Oscar for his prosthetic make-up on Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady – who is working on transforming another public figure.
This time, Coulier will mould Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda’s scarred face on to actor Daniel Bruhl, who will portray the Austrian driver in the film Rush. The film, directed by Ron Howard, follows the professional relationship between James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) and Lauda.
And the producers at Working Title and Revolution Films have even got hold of some Formula 1 cars from the Seventies.
Stephen Daldry, who was lamenting not being able to smoke anywhere in Los Angeles – inside or out.
We were enjoying the splendid cocktail garden party to salute the British Oscar nominees, hosted by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Consul-General Dame Barbara Hay, when a waiter told Daldry he’d have to extinguish his cigarette.
He was happy to get a couple of puffs. We laughed at the severity of it all and Daldry used the moment to tell me he’s bringing laughter to the Olympics opening ceremony, which he’s producing.
‘Tell me the last laugh you had watching an Olympic ceremony See, you can’t. But there will be when we do it,’ he declared.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose screen version of his musical Love Never Dies was shown at a cinema on 42nd Street in New York.
My Mail Online colleagues are running a competition to win tickets to an exclusive preview screening of the Love Never Dies film, which I thought was beautifully done, at the May Fair Hotel, London on Tuesday, March 6.
The DVD of Love Never Dies, which was shot in Australia, is released in the UK on March 12.