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Melissa Leo

Oprah Winfrey Returns to the Silver Screen in The Butler

Originally posted 05/09/2013 02:35PM

Oprah's back – on the big screen, that is – in The Butler.

Based on the life of Eugene Allen, the White House head butler who served eight presidents during a 34-year career, the film stars Forest Whitaker playing a character called Cecil Gaines. Oprah plays his wife, Gloria Gaines.

As shown in the intriguing two-minute, thirty-second trailer, the OWN network mogul, 59, shows off the acting chops that once earned her an Oscar nomination, for 1985's The Color Purple.

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Credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage
Melissa Leo: Animals Are 'Such Good Actors' | Melissa Leo

Melissa Leo: Animals Are 'Such Good Actors'

Originally posted 09/12/2012 04:10PM

Melissa Leo has never been what she'd call an animal lover, though dogs and cats have made their way into her life over the years. "It always seemed like they happened upon me," she says. In her new movie, Francine, however, she plays a woman obsessed with them.

She was able to pull it off because, above all, Leo is an actress, and she relished the experience of "walking inside the soul of another human being" for the independent film about a woman just released from prison.

That namesake human being reveals very little of herself through language – there is hardly any dialogue – but she demonstrates an extreme connection to animals and behaves almost animal-like as she takes jobs at a pet store, horse stables and an animal hospital, all while taking in pets of her own.

"To be an animal myself" was the goal, Leo tells PEOPLE. "For Francine, she doesn't know how to [interact] with people very well and so [interacts] with animals ... In the end, she doesn't really know how to nurture the beasts."

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Credit: Pacific Coast News; Inset: Getty
Do You Recognize Robin Williams as a President? | Robin Williams

Robin Williams Plays President Eisenhower (No Joke)

Originally posted 08/27/2012 11:15AM

Heroic World War II general and president of Columbia University – and one of the best-liked American presidents – Dwight D. Eisenhower wasn't particularly known for his sense of humor, but that may change now that he is being played by Robin Williams.

As seen in this photo, Williams, 61, is made up to play Eisenhower during his White House years. Ike was 62 when first sworn in, and 71 when he handed over the reins to the 43-year-old JFK in 1961.

And the role is for The Butler, an adaptation of a Washington Post article about the real-life Eugene Allen, a White House domestic-staff member who served under eight First Families. Forest Whitaker plays Allen and Oprah Winfrey will play his wife.

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Credit: Julia Malakie/The Lowell Sun/AP
Alice Ward, Real-Life Mother in The Fighter, Dies

Alice Ward, Real-Life Mother in The Fighter, Dies

Originally posted 04/28/2011 07:55AM

Alice Ward, the no-nonsense, real-life mom of boxing champ Micky Ward and one of the riveting main characters in this year's Oscar-winning The Fighter, died Tuesday at Boston's Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

She was 79 and was taken off life support after having lapsed into a coma, reports the Lowell Sun in Massachusetts.

In January, Ward suffered a heart attack, a stroke and was pronounced dead for 45 minutes – only to regain consciousness and start breathing again on her own, her other son, Dicky Eklund, told the family’s local newspaper.

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Credit: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty (2)
Natalie Portman, Colin Firth Are Top Oscar Winners

Natalie Portman, Colin Firth Are Top Oscar Winners

Originally posted 02/27/2011 11:40PM

The Oscars paid royal tribute to The King's Speech, honoring the drama about King George VI as Best Picture and shining gold upon its Best Actor Colin Firth, Director Tom Hooper and Screenplay writer David Seidler.

"I have a feeling my career's just peaked," Firth said on the stage of Hollywood's Kodak Theatre Sunday night, at the 83rd annual Academy Awards.

The British actor was so excited he admitted to "experiencing stirrings … in the abdominal region that are threatening to turn themselves into dance moves."

Natalie Portman, as the troubled dancer in Black Swan, was named Best Actress. "This is insane," she said in her speech. "I truly, sincerely wish the prize tonight was to work with my fellow nominees. I am in such awe of you."

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Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP (2)
Natalie Portman, Colin Firth Take Top SAG Awards | Colin Firth, Natalie Portman

Screen Actors Guild Awards 2011

Natalie Portman, Colin Firth Take Top SAG Awards

Originally posted 01/30/2011 10:15PM

Black Swan's Natalie Portman and The King's Speech's Colin Firth, along with The Fighter's Melissa Leo and Christian Bale, might just as well clear their mantels.

They all took home Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, a reliable prognosticator of the Feb. 27 Oscars.

Among those she thanked, Portman singled out her parents, "who taught me to work the hardest and never to be an a--hole, that wasn't acceptable."

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