"THE ONLY way to enjoy one's life is to work; work is so much more fun than fun," said Noel Coward.
WHEN sitting with Jared Leto a couple of months ago, at a Peggy Siegal luncheon to celebrate the success of "The Dallas Buyers Club," I was, of course, struck by his beauty (there's no other word) and his laid-back good humor.
But I was surprised, when asking if he intended to make hay out of his critically acclaimed portrayal of Rayon, the transgender character in "Dallas..." He answered that he had absolutely no plans to do another movie. He would be going back on the road with his band "30 Seconds to Mars." (It had already been five years since his last film, "Mr. Nobody.")
Well, Jared was as good as his word -- he hasn't signed on for another movie. He did recently make a surprise appearance at the Los Angeles Marathon. The actor/musician was actually running in the race with a pal. (You may recall that Jared played the famous runner Steve Prefontaine in the 1997 film, "Prefontaine.")
At the marathon, after a rousing rendition of "Jumping Jack Flash" -- with the performing band, The Aviators" -- Jared leapt off the stage and resumed his run.
The Aviators were excited to have the Oscar winner as a guest singer. Leto has also recorded some music with Kanye West. (Kanye's lady, Kim Kardashian, recently took in a performance of The Aviators at the fabled Whisky a Go Go. Does this mean Kim is mulling a music career? The Apocalypse can't happen soon enough!)
ONE more Jared Leto observation. I caught Oliver Stone's "Alexander" on one of the cable stations the other night. It was just as loony in some parts and just as magnificent in others as I recalled. (The battle between Alexander's men and the elephants in India is simply mind-blowing!) Of course, Colin Farrell as a blond Alexander just didn't work and Angelina Jolie, though gorgeous as his snake-mad mother Olympias, seemed to be using an accent oddly similar to Natasha in the old "Rocky and Bullwinkle" cartoons. I kept expecting Jolie to say, "Quick, Boris, make snake eat moose and squirrel!"
But there also was Jared Leto as Alexander's super-best bud, Hephaistion. He wore his hair just as he does now, down to his shoulders. And, 10 years since that film's release, Jared Leto has not aged a day. He looks exactly the same. Probably just good genes. But if he has an upkeep regimen, he should share it. Acting is already not a main priority, even after his Best Supporting win.
If music ever palls there is a fortune to be made marketing whatever Jared Leto is doing to keep those boyish good looks!
One thing I failed to expound on in my recent positive reaction to Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Baines Johnson in the play "All the Way" is this:
I noticed early on that the veteran actor John McMartin was playing an important role. He appears as the elder statesman of the South, a devout segregationist, a Democrat from Georgia who is against passage of the Civil Rights Bill that LBJ is trying to push through to became law.
For 38 years, the real Sen. Richard Russell, a staunch segregationist, opposed civil rights laws.
Lyndon had spent his life in Congress worshipping Sen. Russell and seeking his counsel. But here, in 1964, they differ and as president, Lyndon sets out to win through compromise.
So it was a thrill and shock for me to find actor McMartin playing a "civilized," soft-spoken Southern gent whose convictions about blacks was so antediluvian and firm that they give the play part of its kick.
I well remembered Mr. McMartin from his performance in 1971 in the original musical "Follies," as the handsome leading man to the late and glamorous Alexis Smith. Now he is considerably older and he is "playing" older, so that Sen. Russell's shaking palsy endures throughout the play.
Thinking on John's "Follies" role, I recalled Alexis, bitter and outraged singing Stephen Sondheim's savage song: "Leave you? Leave you? How could I leave you? How could I go it alone? ... Not to fetch your pills again every day at five. Not to give those dinners for 10 elderly men from the UN. How I could I survive?" ... well, I guess you could leave me the house, leave me the flat, leave me the Braques and Chagalls and all that ... etc."
(There have been numerous revivals, but nobody ever put that song across like Alexis -- and she wasn't even a singer!)
Anyway, it was a thrill to see John McMartin again, even as a Dixiecrat!
ENDTHOUGHT: Somebody emailed me yesterday saying that they love Chelsea Handler and love what she said to Piers Morgan on CNN the other night -- basically telling him he was a pompous twit who deserved to lose his show.
And they added that maybe it was just a gag? It looked pretty real to me, but who knows? Chelsea is a comic and Piers doesn't mind being a news item, especially as he is losing his spot on CNN. Maybe they colluded. But I think not.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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