Tag Archives: Bob Balaban

Actor Bob Balaban Discusses Acting Career at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

Director Robert Altman’s Academy Award-winning film Gosford Park is a period piece about the rich and their servants during a British weekend retreat and party in 1932. Character actor Bob Balaban produced and portrayed an American vegetarian filmmaker Morris Weissman in the movie. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won one Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

My husband Dan and I attended an evening with Bob Balaban, featuring Gosford Park during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.

My husband Dan and I attended an evening with Bob Balaban, featuring Gosford Park during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.

Gosford Park

Gosford Park

The film was screened during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival before a question-and-answer session with Balaban. Altman and Balaban came up with the idea for the film and brought it to life with an ensemble cast, including Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren (head servant Mrs. Wilson) and Maggie Smith who portrayed the wealthy Constance Trentham and is now Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey.

An Evening with Bob Balaban Photo by: Sandra Carr

An Evening with Bob Balaban
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Balaban had been reading Agatha Christie murder mysteries and came up with an idea for a movie, which became Gosford Park. He thought Altman would be the perfect director for the movie. Plus, Altman had a vast body of work but had never directed a period film during his career. Balaban said he knew it would be interesting because of Altman’s “lack of interest in formal structure.” Altman agreed to direct the film but he wanted “to do a murder mystery about poor people in England because he really didn’t like rich people.” He felt “everyone should be equal and didn’t like a division between rich and poor and the powerful and non-powerful.”

An Evening with Bob Balaban, Featuring Gosford Park. Photo by: Sandra Carr

An Evening with Bob Balaban, Featuring Gosford Park.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Balaban and Altman hired Julian Fellowes to write the script. In six weeks time, he returned to Balaban and Altman with the first 70 pages of the screenplay, which won him an Academy Award.

Last minute changes also added to the movie’s story and ending. Altman decided to have Jeremy Northam portray Welsh composer and actor Ivor Novello. Northam learned how to play the piano and sang in the film. Altman also decided to change the ending by revealing that Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Croft (head servant) were sisters.

Besides acting, directing and producing Gosford Park, Balaban has a movie theater and film-making heritage. His mom Elenore acted under the surname Barry and his dad Elmer Balaban owned movie theaters in Chicago and throughout the Midwest, and developed an early version of pay-TV. His uncle Barney Balaban was also the chairman of Paramount Pictures.

Bob Balaban participates in a Q&A during the Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Sandra Carr

Bob Balaban participates in a Q&A during the Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

He was Linus in the off-Broadway production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown but his first movie role was portraying a young student in MIdnight Cowboy.

Bob Balaban and Jon Voight in a scene in Midnight Cowboy.

Bob Balaban and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy.

At age 69, he has portrayed more than 100 characters, including the interpreter David Laughlin in Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Bob Balaban and François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Bob Balaban and François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

He has been in Christopher Guest movies, including Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Bob Balaban as Jonathan Steinbloom in A Mighty Wind.

Bob Balaban as Jonathan Steinbloom in A Mighty Wind.

The actor is also renowned as the character Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC who was obsessed with Elaine on Seinfeld.

Bob Balaban portraying Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC on Seinfeld.

Bob Balaban portraying Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC on Seinfeld.

He has also had the opportunity to appear in Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry and Fading Gigolo.

Woody Allen and Bob Balaban in Deconstructing Harry.

Woody Allen and Bob Balaban in Deconstructing Harry.

Balaban was the narrator in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and the Ritz Imperial concierge in The Grand Budapest Hotel. I had an opportunity to ask Balaban about what it was like working with this writer, director and producer and why his quirky, signature style was so unique.

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

“I have been lucky during my lengthy film career,” he said. “I have worked with some amazing people and stumbled upon some wonderful directors. I have always loved Wes’ movies. I was thrilled when he asked me to be in Moonrise Kingdom. I loved the script, my part and working with Wes. He’s a brilliant and unique director. There’s a real ballet going on with Wes’ shots and the actions in them. It’s so formal but his films are life filled to me. He has a love of children and respects the dignity of all sorts of people in is movies. He thrives in chaos but his movie making is very organized with a vision that he’s able to get on the screen.”

Learn more about Bob Balaban’s career on imdb.com.

Sandra Carr and Bob Balaban at the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Dan Carr

Sandra Carr and Bob Balaban at the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Dan Carr

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Films and Food Fuel Annual Fest By Sandra Carr

Central Florida’s nonprofit, alternative and independent cinema, the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla., displays a picturesque, old-Florida ambiance surrounded by shady, weeping oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Besides its Southern charm, the theater becomes the epicenter of movie mania during its annual Florida Film Festival. This year, the festival is celebrating its 24-year anniversary at the Enzian Theater and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 10-19, 2015.

The flick fete has been listed as one of the 20 coolest film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by The Internet Movie Database (Imdb.com). Past celebrity guests have included Oliver Stone, Drew Barrymore, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, John Waters, Glenn Close, Jon Voight, Susan Sarandon and Emma Stone.

I'm interviewing actor Dennis Hopper for WCPX Channel 6 during the Florida Film Festival in June 1994. Photo by: Jim Leatherman

A blast from the past! I’m interviewing actor Dennis Hopper for WCPX Channel 6 during the Florida Film Festival in June 1994.
Photo by: Jim Leatherman

This year’s film festival features more than 170 movies, including animated shorts, documentaries, spotlights, narrative features and shorts and special screenings.

24th Annual Florida Film Festival

24th Annual Florida Film Festival

The opening-night film is Welcome to Me, a movie featuring funny lady Kristen Wiig portraying a woman with a borderline personality disorder that wins $86 million in the lottery and decides to buy her own talk show. The movie premieres at the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

Welcome to Me Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Welcome to Me
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

After the movie, indulge in a foodie feast during the opening-night party at the Enzian Theater. Participating bars and restaurants include BRIO Tuscan Grille, K Restaurant, Swine & Sons, Soco and Rogue Pub.

Opening-night film and party is $110, film only is $25 and party only is $95. The opening-night film is on standby.

The opening-night party features a foodie feast.

The opening-night party features food, glorious food! Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Learn about local, farm-fresh eats during the FFF at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 11 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The homegrown event will feature Lake Meadow Natural Farms, Palmetto Creek Farms, Olde Hearth Bread Co. and the East End Market. Sampling and cooking demonstrations are included in the $12 admission.

Local farms are keeping it fresh.  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Local farms are keeping it fresh.
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Take farm to table further with the free Locally Fresh! Farmers Market on Eden Bar’s lawn on Saturday, April 11 from noon-2:30 p.m. Folks can purchase produce from area farmers and vendors.

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Celebrity appearances include actor Bob Balaban during a screening of Gosford Park on Sunday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. The actor is renowned as the character Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC who was obsessed with Elaine on Seinfeld. Tickets are $25.

"Gosford Park"  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Gosford Park
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Actor Sam Rockwell takes us to the Moon during his question-and-answer session on Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Actor Sam Rockwell portrays Sam Bell in "Moon."  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Actor Sam Rockwell portrays Sam Bell in Moon.
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Other fabulous flicks include Homeless, a movie directed by Florida State University graduate Clay Hassler, about a teenage boy, portrayed by newcomer Michael McDowell, who lives in a shelter and is trying to get his life back on track after his grandmother passes away.

Homeless Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Homeless
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Embark on an adventure while looking for the person behind a popular Chinese delicacy in The Search for General Tso.

The Search of General Tso's Chicken Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Search for General Tso
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Pump yourself up with this documentary about bodybuilder, actor and rocker Jon Mikl Thor during his comeback in I Am Thor.

I Am Thor Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

I Am Thor
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Watch 500 Days of Summer, a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel about a dysfunctional relationship that’s a sure failure for free on the Enzian Theater’s lawn on Monday, April 13 at 8 p.m.

500 Days of Summer Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

500 Days of Summer
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

3 1/2 Minutes explores the shooting and death of Jordan Davis at a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla. and the State of Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense laws.

3 1/2 Minutes Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

3 1/2 Minutes
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Freebie alert! Watch the dark Donnie Darko on Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m. and the sweet Amelie on Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. on the Enzian Theater’s lawn.

Donnie Darko Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Donnie Darko
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Amelie Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Amelie
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Music makes it mark during the FFF this year. Experience the D.C. punk-rock scene and mosh pits in Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90). Honky-tonk and country musician Billy Mize created the Bakersfield sound and chose family over music during the peak of his career. Learn more about this legendary musician in Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound.

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90). Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90)
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Get your movie on by watching comedies, dramas, panel discussions, parties and more during this year’s Florida Film Festival. Individual film tickets are $9 for a matinee before 5 p.m. and $11 for a regular ticket after 5 p.m. and passes and packages are $99-$1,500 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit http://www.floridafilmfestival.com.

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