Matthew Modine, who plays the rich young American Christopher Newman, recently appeared in Any Given Sunday and Notting Hill. Of his successes on the small screen, Modine earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role in What the Deaf Man Heard in 1991 and received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his performance in HBO's And the Band Played On. As a director, his three short films -- When I Was a Boy, Smoking, and Ecce Pirate -- all debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. Modine recently released his first feature, If... Dog... Rabbit, a film he wrote, directed, executive produced, and starred in. Modine has also been active on the stage, directing Twelve Angry Men at the New Mercury Theater. An acclaimed actor and veteran of 30 films, he has also appeared in Married to the Mob, and has starred in the award-winning Birdy, Short Cuts, and Full Metal Jacket.
The gentleman on the divan was a powerful specimen of an American. But he was not only a fine American; he was in the first place, physically, a fine man. He appeared to possess that kind of health and strength which, when found in perfection, are the most impressive -- the physical capital which the owner does nothing to "keep up." If he was a muscular Christian, it was quite without knowing it. If it was necessary to walk to a remote spot, he walked, but he had never known himself to "exercise." He had no theory with regard to cold bathing or the use of Indian clubs; he was neither an oarsman, a rifleman, nor a fencer -- he had never had time for these amusements -- and he was quite unaware that the saddle is recommended for certain forms of indigestion. He was by inclination a temperate man; but he had supped the night before his visit to the Louvre at the Cafe Anglais -- some one had told him it was an experience not to be omitted -- and he had slept none the less the sleep of the just. His usual attitude and carriage were of a rather relaxed and lounging kind, but when under a special inspiration, he straightened himself, he looked like a grenadier on parade. He never smoked. He had been assured -- such things are said -- that cigars were excellent for the health, and he was quite capable of believing it; but he knew as little about tobacco as about homeopathy. He had a very well-formed head, with a shapely, symmetrical balance of the frontal and the occipital development, and a good deal of straight, rather dry brown hair. His complexion was brown, and his nose had a bold well-marked arch. His eye was of a clear, cold gray, and save for a rather abundant mustache he was clean-shaved. He had the flat jaw and sinewy neck which are frequent in the American type; but the traces of national origin are a matter of expression even more than of feature, and it was in this respect that our friend's countenance was supremely eloquent. The discriminating observer we have been supposing might, however, perfectly have measured its expressiveness, and yet have been at a loss to describe it. It had that typical vagueness which is not vacuity, that blankness which is not simplicity, that look of being committed to nothing in particular, of standing in an attitude of general hospitality to the chances of life, of being very much at one's own disposal so characteristic of many American faces. It was our friend's eye that chiefly told his story; an eye in which innocence and experience were singularly blended. It was full of contradictory suggestions, and though it was by no means the glowing orb of a hero of romance, you could find in it almost anything you looked for. Frigid and yet friendly, frank yet cautious, shrewd yet credulous, positive yet skeptical, confident yet shy, extremely intelligent and extremely good-humored, there was something vaguely defiant in its concessions, and something profoundly reassuring in its reserve. The cut of this gentleman's mustache, with the two premature wrinkles in the cheek above it, and the fashion of his garments, in which an exposed shirt-front and a cerulean cravat played perhaps an obtrusive part, completed the conditions of his identity. We have approached him, perhaps, at a not especially favorable moment; he is by no means sitting for his portrait. But listless as he lounges there, rather baffled on the aesthetic question, and guilty of the damning fault (as we have lately discovered it to be) of confounding the merit of the artist with that of his work (for he admires the squinting Madonna of the young lady with the boyish coiffure, because he thinks the young lady herself uncommonly taking), he is a sufficiently promising acquaintance. Decision, salubrity, jocosity, prosperity, seem to hover within his call; he is evidently a practical man, but the idea in his case, has undefined and mysterious boundaries, which invite the imagination to bestir itself on his behalf.
Claire de Cintré
Aisling O'Sullivan is one of Ireland's most exciting new talents. Trained at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, she has appeared at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and on the London stage. She has enjoyed critical acclaim in The Cripple of Inishman, Hysteria, The Seagull, Slavs, and The Playboy of the Western World, as well as for her roles in The Cavalcades, The Famine, The Honeyspike, and Silverhands. She has recently made the leap to film with featured roles in The Butcher Boy and Michael Collins, both directed by Neil Jordan. Her television credits include Medical Ethics (BBC).
"I happen to number among my friends the loveliest woman in the world. Neither more nor less. I don't say a very charming person or a very estimable woman or a very great beauty; I say simply the loveliest woman in the world."
Madame de Bellegarde
Diana Rigg was born in Yorkshire and trained for the Stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After appearing in repertory in Chesterfield and York, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-Upon-Avon, in 1959 and made her first appearance in London at the Aldwych in January 1961where in repertory she played Philipe Trincante in The Devils, Gwendolen in Becket, Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew, and Madame de Tournel in The Art of Seduction. Returning to Stratford-Upon-Avon in April 1962, she played Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lady Macbeth, Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, and Regan in King Lear.
After a year of appearing as Emma Peel in The Avengers, she rejoined the RSC in 1966 to play Viola in Twelfth Night. She followed that with Heloise in Abelard and Heloise and joined the National Theatre in 1971 to play Dottie in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, Lady Macbeth, and Celimene in The Misanthrope. She played Eliza Dolittle in Pygmailion, returned to the National Theatre in 1976 to play Phaedra in Phaedra Britannica, appeared in Tom Stoppard's Night and Day, Heartbreak House, Little Eyolf, Anthony and Cleopatra, Follies, All for Love, Medea (for which she received The Evening Standard Best Actress Award and won the Tony Award for Best Actress). She played the title role of Mother Courage at the Royal National Theatre. Her most recent role in theatre was in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Her films include The Hospital, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Little Night Music, Evil Under the Sun, and A Good Man in Africa. In 1988, Rigg was decorated as a Commander of the British Empire and, in 1994, was named Dame Commander of the British Empire.
Dame Diana Rigg has been host of PBS's MYSTERY! since 1989 and counts among her many television credits Hedda Gabler, Witness for the Prosecution, Bleak House, and Mother Love, a WGBH Boston-BBC co-production which was broadcast on MYSTERY! in 1990. She also starred as Mrs. Danvers in Masterpiece Theatre's Rebecca, a performance for which she earned the 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries. Rigg recently wrapped filming on two new installments of The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries.
... Newman walked up to the old lady by the fire and shook hands with her. He received a rapid impression of a white, delicate, aged face, with a high forehead, a small mouth, and a pair of cold blue eyes which had kept much of the freshness of youth. Madame de Bellegarde looked hard at him, and returned his hand-shake with a sort of British positiveness which reminded him that she was the daughter of the Earl of St. Dunstan's....
Marquis de Bellegarde
The Irish actor T.P. McKenna is well versed in film and TV adaptations of classic novels. Prior to his current role in The American, he was in adaptations of Charles Dickens's Bleak House, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, and James Joyce's Ulysses.
Henri de Bellegarde (Urbain)
Primarily a stage actor, Paul Hickey has most recently appeared in Deep Blue Sea at the Manchester Royal Exchange, and Halloween Nights and Pentecost at Dublin/Donmar (London). His film credits include Moll Flanders, Michael Collins, and Saving Private Ryan.
"Your brother," said Newman reflectively, "must be a very nice young man."
Valentin de Bellegarde (M. de Bellegarde)
Andrew Scott got his start in Dublin theaters, most recently appearing in A Long Day's Journey Into Night. He had a role in Saving Private Ryan and was featured in the made-for-TV movie Longitude.
Decidedly, there was something in his visitor that he liked. M. de Bellegarde was a foreigner to his finger-tips, and if Newman had met him on a Western prairie he would have felt it proper to address him with a "How-d'ye-do, Mosseer?" But there was something in his physiognomy which seemed to cast a sort of aerial bridge over the impassable gulf produced by difference of race. He was below the middle height, and robust and agile in figure. Valentin de Bellegarde, Newman afterwards learned, had a mortal dread of the robustness overtaking the agility; he was afraid of growing stout; he was too short, as he said, to afford a belly. He rode and fenced and practiced gymnastics with unremitting zeal, and if you greeted him with a "How well you are looking" he started and turned pale. In your well he read a grosser monosyllable. He had a round head, high above the ears, a crop of hair at once dense and silky, a broad, low forehead, a short nose, of the ironical and inquiring rather than of the dogmatic or sensitive cast, and a mustache as delicate as that of a page in a romance. He resembled his sister not in feature, but in the expression of his clear, bright eye, completely void of introspection, and in the way he smiled. The great point in his face was that it was intensely alive -- frankly, ardently, gallantly alive. The look of it was like a bell, of which the handle might have been in the young man's soul: at a touch of the handle it rang with a loud, silver sound. There was something in his quick, light brown eye which assured you that he was not economizing his consciousness. He was not living in a corner of it to spare the furniture of the rest. He was squarely encamped in the centre and he was keeping open house. When he smiled, it was like the movement of a person who in emptying a cup turns it upside down: he gave you the last drop of his jollity. He inspired Newman with something of the same kindness that our hero used to feel in his earlier years for those of his companions who could perform strange and clever tricks -- make their joints crack in queer places or whistle at the back of their mouths....
Although born in Dublin, Brenda Fricker is no stranger to American film and television. Her performance in My Left Foot won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1990. More recently, she has appeared in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, A Time to Kill, Swann, Painted Angels, and Resurrection Man.
One afternoon, on his calling on Madame de Cintré, Newman was requested by the servant to wait a few moments, as his hostess was not at liberty. He walked about the room a while, taking up her books, smelling her flowers, and looking at her prints and photographs (which he thought prodigiously pretty), and at last he heard the opening of a door to which his back was turned. On the threshold stood an old woman whom he remembered to have met several times in entering and leaving the house. She was tall and straight and dressed in black, and she wore a cap which, if Newman had been initiated into such mysteries, would have been a sufficient assurance that she was not a Frenchwoman; a cap of pure British composition. She had a pale, decent, depressed-looking face, and a clear, dull, English eye. She looked at Newman a moment, both intently and timidly, and then she dropped a short, straight English curtsey.
Eva Birthistle has recently appeared in several Irish film productions, including Making Ends Meet, Borstal Boy, and Saltwater. She is currently in production for Red Rum.
As the little copyist proceeded with her work, she sent every now and then a responsive glance toward her admirer. The cultivation of the fine arts appeared to necessitate, to her mind, a great deal of by-play, a great standing off with folded arms and head drooping from side to side, stroking of a dimpled chin with a dimpled hand, sighing and frowning and patting of the foot, fumbling in disordered tresses for wandering hair-pins. These performances were accompanied by a restless glance, which lingered longer than elsewhere upon the gentleman we have described....
An actor and painter, the late Joe Pilkington appeared in several theater, film, and television productions, but he was best known for his role as the traveler, Eamon Maher, in the RTÉ television series, The Riordans. Among his paintings was a controversial portrait of the former Bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey.
"And precisely, here is my father, who has come to escort me home," said Mademoiselle Noémie. "He speaks English. He will arrange with you." And she turned to welcome a little old gentleman who came shuffling up, peering over his spectacles at Newman.
Ian Fitzgibbon is a British actor who has appeared both on television (Prime Suspect) and in feature films (Best).
At this moment, however, [Newman's] attention was attracted by a gentleman who had come from another part of the room and whose manner was that of a stranger to the gallery, although he was equipped with neither guide-book nor opera-glass. He carried a white sun-umbrella, lined with blue silk, and he strolled in front of the Paul Veronese, vaguely looking at it, but much too near to see anything but the grain of the canvas. Opposite to Christopher Newman he paused and turned, and then our friend, who had been observing him, had a chance to verify a suspicion aroused by an imperfect view of his face. The result of this larger scrutiny was that he presently sprang to his feet, strode across the room, and, with an outstretched hand, arrested the gentleman with the blue-lined umbrella. The latter stared, but put out his hand at a venture. He was corpulent and rosy, and though his countenance, which was ornamented with a beautiful flaxen beard, carefully divided in the middle and brushed outward at the sides, was not remarkable for intensity of expression, he looked like a person who would willingly shake hands with any one....
Alison McKenna is a British television actress who has appeared in The Ambassador and Pie in the Sky.
The truth is that circumstances had done much to cultivate in Mrs. Tristram a marked tendency to irony. Her taste on many points differed from that of her husband, and though she made frequent concessions it must be confessed that her concessions were not always graceful. They were founded upon a vague project she had of some day doing something very positive, something a trifle passionate. What she meant to do she could by no means have told you; but meanwhile, nevertheless, she was buying a good conscience, by installments.
Marquis de Cintré
Philip O'Sullivan has recently appeared on stage in A Tale of Two Cities. His film credits include The Ambassadors, Glenroe, and A Quiet Day in Belfast.
Le Chevalier (Lord Deepmere)
Alan Stanford is primarily a stage actor who has enjoyed a 15-year run as Pozzo in Dublin's Gate Theatre's much-heralded production of Waiting for Godot. He has also appeared both on television (A Secret Affair, Animal Farm) and in feature films (Educating Rita, Michael Collins).
Observation, however, as regards Lord Deepmere's person, had no great range. He was a small, meagre man, of some three and thirty years of age, with a bald head, a short nose and no front teeth in the upper jaw; he had round, candid blue eyes, and several pimples on his chin. He was evidently very shy, and he laughed a great deal, catching his breath with an odd, startling sound, as the most convenient imitation of repose. His physiognomy denoted great simplicity, a certain amount of brutality, and probable failure in the past to profit by rare educational advantages.
Essays + Interviews | Who's Who | A James Timeline
Teacher's Guide | Genius in the Family | Henry Wants a Hit!
The Forum | Links and Bibliography
Home | About The Series | The American Collection | The Archive
Schedule & Season | Feature Library | eNewsletter | Book Club
Learning Resources | Forum | Search | Shop | Feedback
Masterpiece is sponsored by: