Brendan Coyle

Shakespeare in Love

Ah, the circle of stardom and the wonder of That Guy. Is there any greater thrill in pop culture than noticing someone you’d never noticed before? Probably not. Which says a lot about pop culture. Downton Abbey – peradventure because it’s an ensemble from a different country — has a host of familiar faces you can’t quite place. The woman carry a kind of instant fame with them (Elizabeth McGovern is an Oscar nominee and Maggie Smith is Maggie Smith), but the main men have a head-scratchier past. So here’s a brief primer on where you’ve seen these guys before. Prepare by aiming your hand at your forehead.

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Robert Downey Jr

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that’s trying to talk about casting news on a day when Oscar nominations are king. Pity it. Paul Thomas Anderson is the sort of filmmaker who casts amazing actors in his movies and then directs them to the best performances of their careers. From Philip Baker Hall in Hard Eight, to Tom Cruise in Magnolia, to Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, to Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, this has always been true. According to Showbiz 411, Robert Downey Jr. may be adding his name to that list soon. They say that he and possibly Charlize Theron are looking like they’re going to be the stars of Anderson’s upcoming adaptation of reclusive author Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Inherent Vice. If this ends up being true it would, of course, be completely awesome for film fans, and probably be the biggest thing that’s happened to Downey’s career since he got cast as Iron Man. That’s a win-win for everybody.

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