Investigating Redheads Making a Splash in Showbiz
by Laura Pledger – RadioTimes – January 17, 2012
With Benedict Cumberbatch and Karen Gillan riding high, Laura Pledger investigates the redheads making a splash in showbiz. It’s like London buses: you wait ages for one to come along and then a stream of them arrive at once. And, just like London buses, these stars are big (names), red (haired) – and they’re going places…
The London-born actor’s new US drama series, Homeland, picked up a Golden Globe on Sunday night for best television series – drama. He was pipped to the post by Kelsey Grammer in the best performance by an actor in a television series – drama category, but British viewers will soon be in a position to judge whether or not he wuz robbed – the mystery thriller series is coming soon to Channel 4. In it he plays an American soldier missing in action in Iraq who, years later, returns home a hero – but is he? With a fine body of work behind him – including leading roles in Band of Brothers and The Forsyte Saga, as well as numerous theatrical productions – Lewis’s upcoming projects include The Sweeney alongside Ray Winstone.
The red-blond star stole every scene he was in as Geoffrey Chaucer in Brian Helgeland’s A Knight’s Tale, and scared the living daylights out of audiences as murderous albino monk Silas in The Da Vinci Code. Clearly a man who doesn’t frighten easily himself, Bettany also starred twice alongside Russell Crowe, in critically acclaimed biographical drama A Beautiful Mind and sea-faring adventure Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. In Margin Call (see trailer below), currently showing in UK cinemas, he joins an all-star cast including Kevin Spacey and Zachary Quinto in a drama about the financial crisis that has garnered praise from the critics. You won’t see him in Joss Whedon’s forthcoming The Avengers – but you will hear him as he returns to voice Jarvis, Tony Stark’s robot assistant in Iron Man – and he’s then slated to star in crime thriller Blood.
Admittedly, Cumberbatch is most recognisable when he’s sporting the dark locks of Conan Doyle’s consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, playing the title role in BBC1 drama Sherlock. But given the success of that series and the attention (adulation?) it has brought him, the actor is probably grateful for any camouflage his natural hair colour might bring him. Fans mourning his absence from their TV screens after Sunday night’s shocker The Reichenbach Fall can currently see him in cinemas as the blustering and competitive Major Jamie Stewart in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. Reunited with Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman to film Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, Cumberbatch not only voices but, thanks to the magic of motion capture, plays the dragon, Smaug. Not content with playing the baddie in one major sci-fi franchise, he’ll reportedly then challenge Chris Pine’s Kirk as the arch villain in JJ Abrams’s Star Trek sequel. In this clip he matches wits with Paul Merton and Ian Hislop:
She shot to fame in Doctor Who as Amy Pond, the flame-haired companion with an even hotter temper. The next run of the perennially popular sci-fi series will be her last – showrunner Steven Moffat promises fans a “heartbreaking” exit for Amy; the actress herself says, “I’d like to see her go out in flames of glory”. She starred in critically acclaimed play Inadmissible Evidence late last year at London’s Donmar Warehouse, and has spoken of her desire to do more work on stage, but her latest project took her into the rather more glamorous world of modelling. She plays 60s cover girl Jean Shrimpton in We’ll Take Manhattan, which charts her adventures in New York with photographer David Bailey.
The Doctor famously hopes for one regeneration to be ginger. Maybe that’s why he’s invited two redheads aboard the Tardis in recent years? Catherine Tate was yet another red-haired time traveller who broke fans’ hearts when she left Doctor Who. The Doctor was forced to wipe Donna Noble’s memory and return her to Earth following an epic run-in with the Daleks. Best known up till then for comedy performances in series such as Wild West and The Catherine Tate Show, Tate is currently enjoying success in the US, where she has joined the cast of the long-running American version of The Office in the role of Nellie Bertram.
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