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Vanity Fair’s Hollywood Issue Cover 2020: Eddie Murphy, Renée Zellweger, Jennifer Lopez & More

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By the time actors are ready to give the performance of a lifetime, they usually understand a great deal about lifetimes. It’s impossible to watch Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name, or Renée Zellweger in Judy without realizing that you’re in the presence of both mastery and ease. That combination is the result of a journey, sometimes a long one, into an actor’s prime.

Very often, there are bumps along the way—the rises, the disappointments, the comebacks, the odd detours, the triumphs, the mistakes, the loops that can trap you before you realize they’re loops, the odd whims or phone calls or spur-of-the-moment decisions that can change your trajectory forever. All entertainers eventually understand the vicissitudes of a career, but few understand it as vividly as the three people on our cover.

If you doubt it, let’s jump back 25 years and check in with them. In 1994, Murphy was a superstar who had already had his breakthrough on Saturday Night Live, turned it into blazing success in a dozen movies, most of them hits, and was making Beverly Hills Cop III and getting his first peek into the abyss of diminishing returns. Lopez had taken her first big upward leap—all the way from Fly Girl (for millennials, that means backup dancer) on the Fox sketch-comedy series In Living Color to costar of Hotel Malibu, a CBS summer replacement series that lasted all of six episodes but was, at least, an acting gig. And Zellweger, a recent college graduate, had finally gotten her big break—a role alongside another Texas newcomer,Matthew McConaughey, in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which meant that if her luck held, maybe she wouldn’t have to go back to cocktail waitressing.

The Transformer

Renée Zellweger

Hometown: Katy, Texas

Film: Judy

Your brother first got you into a school play. He’s always been protective of you, hasn’t he? Very—but he also helps me keep perspective, like with my first big, public breakup. He picked up all the tabloids, and we were riding in the car home, and his shoulders were shaking, and I thought, Oh gosh, he’s crying, too! And I look over. He’s laughing! He thought it was the best thing in the world—all the things that the tabloids say that you said and did. He started reading them out loud in a ridiculous voice. And we were both laughing till we were crying. I’ve looked at it that way ever since.

As any of them will tell you, it hasn’t been a straight line to 2020.

Lopez became an international music star but also endured the Gigli years; Murphy won an Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls but also got to a point where the prospect of going before the cameras one more time made him so unhappy that he walked away from it, and Zellweger won an Academy Award for Cold Mountain but later reached a point where she felt she could only regain her life by taking five years off from making films. None of them are asking for sympathy, but all of them can explain that being looked at for a living is a complicated and challenging business. So it’s particularly satisfying to see each of them experience a glorious midcareer resurgence that also seems to be an embrace of who they are rather than an attempt to hide or alter it. They’re not playing themselves—as Murphy says, “No actor is who you think that person is”—but they’re using themselves, and doing it more effectively than ever. The hard shell of glamour, and the ambition, drive, sexuality, savvy, and churning emotion just underneath it, are traits that other actors might try to alter, but in Hustlers, Lopez embraces them and then pours them into her character. Murphy roars through Dolemite Is My Name like a man who has rediscovered the joy of playing someone larger than life, and of making people laugh. And although people have been justifiably wowed by Zellweger’s precise and physically detailed transformation into Judy Garland in Judy, at heart, her performance embodies the tremulousness and compassion and empathy that have always been integral to her most memorable work.

The Renaissance Man

Eddie Murphy

Hometown: Brooklyn

Film: Dolemite Is My Name

What’s a side of you we’ve never seen? I’ve played everything from an old lady to a donkey and everything in between. Middle-aged women and old Asian people and an old Jewish guy. I even played a spaceship—it was in that
movie Meet Dave. The movie wasn’t shit, but I did play a spaceship. I’ve been the professor, I’ve been the cops and I’ve been a robber, and I’ve been a doctor talking to the animals. To be an actor and to get to play so many different types of things…but when I’m on television, when I’m in a movie, that’s a persona. No actor is who you think that person is.

It doesn’t seem coincidental that in 2019, all three actors gave benchmark performances not only playing real people, but playing real people who themselves are performers, who understand the liberation of transforming oneself into someone else and of inhabiting an invented persona, but who also get what hard work it is. They’ve been there. They’ve sweated it. They have more than earned this moment.

Perhaps there’s something to be said for coming at acting in a roundabout way, as Lopez, Murphy, and Zellweger all did. Nobody who sees the work done by Little Women’s Florence Pugh, 24, or Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein, 26, or Queen & Slim’s Daniel Kaluuya, 30, would deny that they all seem born to be doing exactly what they’re doing. But starting out your life wanting to do something else can make the turn to acting a decision that’s enriched by your other passions and experiences—it’s what Jennifer Hudson has been discovering in the 15 years since she broke through on American Idol, and Awkwafina in the last couple of years, as she’s turned from rap and comedy to acting. It’s okay not to grow up hell-bent on being a movie star. Maybe it’s even a good thing!

The Force of Nature

Jennifer Lopez

Hometown: the Bronx

Film: Hustlers

Who are the entertainers that you’ve looked to for inspiration? Growing up, I was really taken by the Barbra Streisands of the world, the Tina Turners. And I would say Diana Ross, I would say James Brown, I would say Janet Jackson. I loved my mom, who introduced me to musicals and movies and fairy tales and the stories of all these different lives. People who are multifaceted or have an explosive energy onstage or on the screen…. I think that’s what I’ve always emulated as a performer.

Lopez started as a dancer and singer and says her influences were James Brown, Diana Ross, and “the explosive kind of performance energy of Tina Turner.” Long before she knew the word hyphenate, she was enthralled by “the versatility of singing and dancing and acting, of Barbra Streisand having a recording career and a movie career.” Singing and dancing takes strength, confidence, showmanship, and control over one’s body and posture and breathing—which was good training for her thrillingly assured work as Hustlers’ Ramona. As Lopez puts it, the role was “the first time I got to play a character who was unapologetically out for herself and kind of bad, actually taken over by greed…. She was so many different things. That was really new for me.”

Murphy’s influences have always been comic performers. Rudy Ray Moore, the man he plays in Dolemite, is one of them. “I’m part of the same chain as him, and Richard Pryor, and Dick Gregory, and Bill Cosby, and Dave Chappelle, and Chris Rock, and Martin [Lawrence],” he says. “We’re all linked together.” Murphy sees his place in that time line as a kind of responsibility, one that he has paid forward and backward. “I buried so many people over the years,” he says. “For some strange reason, a lot of people in show business, when they die, don’t have their stuff in order. For Redd Foxx, I had to physically pay for his funeral and his headstone and all that stuff.” For Moore, who died in 2008, Murphy’s performance offers a different kind of tribute—as huge and rich and funny and unafraid to court preposterousness as it is, it’s also an act of real empathy for someone who didn’t get the lucky moment, the fateful audition, the magic phone call, and had to create his own big break.

The Chameleon

Willem Dafoe

Hometown: Appleton, Wisconsin

Film: The Lighthouse

What’s been a perfect moment in your career? The Last Temptation of Christ was a wonderful project. You try not to have favorites,
but that experience demanded a lot of me and I work best when a lot is demanded
of me. I got a call that Martin Scorsese wanted to talk to me. I was shocked initially. I said, “What role?” And my agent said, “You idiot—Jesus.”

And for Zellweger, “acting,” she says, only half joking, “was the fork. I didn’t mean this at all. This was a big mistake!” Ask her to name her childhood heroes and she cites “any athlete, especially the gymnasts, oh my gosh, Olga Korbut, and Nadia Comăneci, and then Mary Lou Retton…I did the sport when I was small. I know the degree of difficulty and commitment, the level of focus it requires, and alchemy, how many things have to come together perfectly in a moment in order for it to work.” Zellweger calls herself “a failed journalist” (“I went to school to write, and here we are!”), and you can see strains of both of those passions in her performance in Judy—the absolute physical precision and the reporter’s desire to understand and convey the reality of another person and her circumstances.

None of them, clearly, have ever been afraid to pivot. For Lopez, her career as a music performer has always been a parallel passion, not something to fall back on but rather another side of herself to turn and return to. But that didn’t make the hard moments or wrong calls easier. More than 15 years later, she still kicks herself for passing on the leading role in the movie Unfaithful. “I should have known that Adrian Lyne was going to kill it, but I didn’t,” she says. “Diane Lane was so perfect for it, and it was obviously meant to be her, but when I think about that, I was offered it, and I had the opportunity…. I want to literally, like, shoot my toe off. I do.”

El Viajero

Antonio Banderas

Hometown: Málaga, Spain

Film: Pain and Glory

What was a decision that changed your life? It was the day that I decided to leave Málaga and go to Madrid to be a professional. I hopped into a train called Dos Corazón. I would say I was 19. My mother, she sewed inner pockets in my pants so if somebody assaults me, they wouldn’t find the money. I remember my friends there in the station—they brought me cigarettes. And I remember the train did a clunk and very slowly I saw my friends going away. I remember thinking, This is the last day of me as I was. When I come back here, I have to be another me—someone who comes not with empty hands, somebody who brings something.

Murphy and Zellweger faced darker periods—moments when the exuberance with which they entered their profession all but vanished. Neither was afraid to do the unthinkable and save themselves by walking away. “About eight years ago,” Murphy recalls, “I said it’s time to take a break and not really be pushing at movies. Getting it right with the director and the writers and having everything work together…that takes a lot of effort, and it’s strenuous. I had gotten to the point where I was just so burned out on the process of making a movie that if I was a little boy, I would have started crying.” After a couple of years of saying, “It’s time to back off and sit on the couch and just be Dad”—he’s got 10 kids, ranging in age from 1 to 30—he felt ready to go back to work. “I just want to do stuff where there’s an emotional hook, and not just because, you know, somebody flashed big dollar signs in front of you,” he says.

At almost exactly the same time, Zellweger was going through her own journey, and doing it far from film sets. “When you repeat yourself in your profession, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for discovery and growth,” she says. “That’s not to say it’s not possible to branch out and be challenged by new things. But [I realized that] there was not time for the things I wanted to experience if I was to keep doing what I had been doing. I just hadn’t found a way to allow for those things that are important and nurturing.” So she stopped; she made no movies for six years, and she tuned out noise from an industry that wondered why she had walked away. She didn’t step back on a set until “I recognized myself again, when I had a life instead of just a profession. When I had friends who I saw on a regular basis.”

The Queen

Laura Dern

Hometown: Los Angeles

Film: Little Women, Marriage Story

What was a decision that changed your life? I think it was early on—choosing to work for filmmakers and be taught by filmmakers
as my education. And that meant taking very little money, taking three scenes in the movie for Peter Bogdanovich versus the lead in a Brat Pack movie. In the ’80s, other people became famous very quickly. But I look back on my career—and I look back on what I learned from my parents, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd—and it was such a sublime moment of saying, “I’m here to learn. I’m here to grow. I’m here to work with auteurs and be of service to the story, whatever part I am.”

Lopez and Zellweger, born just three months apart, are both 50 now, and neither seems remotely afraid of that number. Zellweger says, “I like to challenge myself physically every day with something—I’m a runner, so yeah, if you throw a hill at me, I’ll take it.” And last fall, Lopez called attention to the passage of time by wearing the “jungle dress”—the famous (and famously revealing) Donatella Versace gown that excited so much interest when she wore it to the 2000 Grammys that it resulted in the creation of Google Images. Many performers might avoid then-and-now photos; Lopez loved it. “The second time I wore it and walked out there, it was such an empowering thing,” she says. “Twenty years had gone by, and I think for women, knowing you can put on a dress 20 years later—it resonated. It was like, ‘Yes, you know, life is not over at 20!’” (Wait a few decades and you might even get to headline a Super Bowl halftime show.) As for Murphy, the effusively proud and sentimental (brace yourselves) grandfather is now planning a stand-up comedy tour, his first in decades. At 58, he considers himself “at the tail end of the middle.” That self-assessment doesn’t seem at all unreasonable when contemporaries like Laura Dern, Antonio Banderas, and Willem Dafoe (52, 59, and 64, respectively) are all reaching pinnacles with work that feels deep and informed by experience and perspective.

What’s especially inspiring is the degree to which these three stars all seem to have developed distance without detachment. They care about their work passionately, but that’s only because they’ve made passion a precondition for doing the work in the first place. If they don’t feel it, they’re happy to go home, where they’ve got lives they care about at least as much. Murphy, who lost his older brother Charlie to leukemia three years ago (Dolemite Is My Name is dedicated to him), says nothing is more important than his family and offers some sobering words of caution to anyone who might let an eyes-on-the-prize mentality define them. “The people I knew around my age who had impact in their areas—Michael and Prince and Whitney—they’re gone,” he says. “And without getting into what they did and why they’re not here, what they had in common was that their career, their life as artists, was all-consuming. The center of their whole shit revolved around them as artists, and everything else suffered as a result. Your personal relationships, your finances, substance abuse problems. All that stuff is because show business can’t be the center. That’s the recipe for an early exit.”

The Original

Awkwafina

Hometown: Queens

Film: The Farewell

You’ve been getting more comfortable with people knowing you by your given name, Nora, rather than by Awkwafina. When I first started as Awkwafina, there was a more distinct duality, where this
is the one that’s performing and this is the one that’s at home having a panic attack.
But as I get older, I think they’re the same person.

Perhaps that’s why when Lopez is asked about goals she still wants to fulfill, she looks in an unexpected direction: “It’s always a career thing that they ask about, and I think, Oh, yeah. Direct. But if you’re saying bucket list, I would say I would love to live somewhere other than the United States, in a small town in Italy, or on the other side of the world, in Bali. Find another life where it’s a little bit more simple and organic and where I get to ride a bike, and buy bread, and put it in my basket, and then go home and put jelly on it, and just eat and paint, or sit in a rocking chair where there was a beautiful view of an olive tree or an oak tree and I could just smell. I have fantasies like that.”

That may have to wait. It’s easier to imagine Lopez—and her colleagues—diving back into work, not because they have something to prove but because they don’t: They just want to do their own thing, on their own terms. “No one’s going to invite you to do it,” says Zellweger. “You shouldn’t wait. If it’s something that’s your passion, then do it. That really is the truth. No one’s ever going to anoint you and say, ‘No, no, no, you do have the skills to do this, you really do,’ even before you’ve checked off all the things on your list that you think will validate you or substantiate you or your desire to participate. There’s always going to be someone who tells you not to do it. Be around a bunch of people who tell you you can.”



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Rick Ross – Summer Reign (Official Music Video) ft. Summer Walker

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‘Port of Miami 2’ Album Available Now:

Rick Ross online:

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‘Dog with sign’ tells it like it is… Canine style (24 Photos)

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Bachelorette’s Tyler Gwozdz Dead at 29 After Apparent Overdose

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Former Bachelorette contestant Tyler Gwozdz has passed away at the age of 29.

E! News has confirmed that the reality star, who competed on Hannah Brown‘s season of the dating series, has died. Tyler was hospitalized last week after a suspected overdose. The Boca Raton Police Services Department previously confirmed to E! News that officers responded to a call for a suspected medical overdose at around 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 13. Tyler was then transported to the hospital.

TMZ previously reported that Tyler was admitted to the intensive care unit in a Florida hospital and remained there for about a week. Bachelor Nation will remember Tyler G as an early stand-out on Hannah’s Bachelorette season in 2019, where he received the first one-on-one date. However, shortly after becoming a fan favorite, Tyler suddenly left the show without much of a warning to Hannah or his fellow contestants, other than he “had to leave.”

Hannah has yet to comment on the passing of Tyler, a psychology grad student from Boca Raton, Fla.

Tyler’s last Instagram post was shared in September. In the photos, Tyler can be seen with fellow Bachelor Nation stars, including Matt Donald, Dylan Barbour and Clay Harbor.

Our thoughts are with Tyler’s family during this heartbreaking time.





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