Before They Were Stars: 4-Year Old Naya Rivera on “The Royal Family”

Glee star Naya Rivera has been acting since she was a toddler, with early roles on such sitcoms as Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She got her first major role at the age of four by joining the cast of a short-lived sitcom called The Royal Family… which was short-lived for some very memorable reasons. For starters, the sitcom was abruptly cancelled after its star, Redd Foxx, died of a heart attack. The eerie part is that the original title for the show was Chest Pains. If that wasn’t strange enough, Foxx suffered his fatal heart attack on the set during rehearsal… but since he had played a famous character on Sanford and Son who was notorious for faking heart attacks, everyone thought Foxx was just kidding around!

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 44 – Shock Waves

Last night I watched a movie about Nazi zombies, so today you get a movie about Nazi zombies! Starring the awesome Peter Cushing, no less.

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 43 – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Another horror film for you fine readers! This one is director John McNaughton’s debut feature, and wouldn’t you know it, I just watched the new McNaughton film earlier this week, with the director in attendance. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer remains my favorite of his, though.

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 42 – Suspiria

Time for some classic Dario Argento! I was just talking to some producers about Suspiria yesterday, and we all agreed that there are far too few modern horror movies based around witches.

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Before They Were Stars: Yannick Bisson on “Learning the Ropes”

I don’t know if many of you non-Canuck readers are familiar with Murdoch Mysteries, but it’s a pretty popular TV series here in Canada that has been on the air for several seasons. Anyway, Yannick Bisson plays William Murdoch, the title character on the show, and it was quite a surprise to discover that during the 1980s, he had the misfortune of starring on Learning the Ropes, the world’s only attempt at a sitcom about professional wrestling. Lyle Alzado portrayed a schoolteacher who moonlighted as a masked wrestler and Bisson played his teenage son. The whole show was atrocious and represented everything that was bad about hackneyed 1980s sitcoms, but I do remember liking it as a kid since several wrestlers from the National Wrestling Alliance made guest appearances. Where else are you going to see the star of Murdoch Mysteries act alongside Hawk and Animal, the Road Warriors?!

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 41 – Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl

Here’s another Fantasia-themed movie for you to enjoy! This one is probably the best representation of the movies I’ve been watching at the festival.

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Before They Were Stars: Gary Oldman on “Dramarama”

Dramarama was a British teen drama anthology series which aired on ITV during the 1980s and some of its stories often featured supernatural elements. A young Gary Oldman had an early role in a 1984 episode, but alas, it appears to be one of the non-supernatural ones. Oldman plays a slacker living off his parents’ inheritance who gets a new outlook on life when he befriends a homeless punk rocker. Hmmmm, you could almost say it inspired him to take on his star-marking role of Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy.

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 40 – Exit Through the Gift Shop

Sorry about my absence yesterday! The festival is busy and I don’t have steady access to wifi. So to apologize, here is one of my favorite documentaries of all time.

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Before They Were Stars: Andy Serkis on “The New Statesman”

Want to catch a glimpse of a young Andy Serkis long before he was the king of motion capture performance? His first onscreen role was appearing in a 1989 episode of The New Statesman, a satirical British sitcom which starred the late Rik Mayall as an ultra-right wing Conservative MP named Alan B’Stard. You can see Serkis pop up at the 20:44 mark of this episode as a reporter. As if this episode didn’t have enough British acting legends, Stephen Fry is also in it, along with Hugh Laurie in a brief cameo as a waiter.

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Before They Were Stars: 12-Year Old Julianne Hough as an Extra in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

Given that the casts of the Harry Potter movies are pretty much exclusively British pedigree, you wouldn’t expect a Utah-born future country music star to pop up in it. However, when she was 12 years old, Julianne Hough was living in London, so she was able to get herself a gig as an extra in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. She plays a student from Gryffindor House during the Quidditch sequence and you can her standing close to Ron at the 3:20 and 4:41 marks of this clip.

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