Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Linda Hunt

When I was in college, I lived in a dorm that was practically right next door to a movie theater. Every Saturday was a chance to see a double feature at a bargain price. One of the most memorable films I saw there was "The Year of Living Dangerously" (1982), about a journalist (played by Mel Gibson) covering the Indonesian civil war of 1965 during the reign of President Sukarno. The film also stars Sigourney Weaver as a diplomat and Linda Hunt as Australian-Chinese photographer Billy Kwan. The role of the latter was extraordinary. It wasn't difficult to portray a dwarf, since she is only 4'9", but Hunt was completely convincing in a male role - so much so that she beat out Cher and Glenn Close to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1984. She became the 1st person to win an Academy Award for cross-gender acting (in which the character is not merely in drag). Hunt has also applied her resonant voice to narration of documentaries and a video game, voice-overs for cartoons and commercials, and hosting of a radio show. The latest of her dozens of film and TV roles is Hettie Lange on "NCIS: Los Angeles," which I watched for the 1st time last night. She is as mesmerizing as ever.

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