• Helen Mirren lowers her voice to a whisper and her eyes take on a devious twinkle as she makes a confession: When she has a really good time making a movie, as she did on The Hundred-Foot Journey, she fears: "Oh my God, is it going to suck?" Never mind that the 69-year-old Dame of the British Empire who won an Oscar for playing the queen just said a four-letter word. Mirren also said that when she takes time off work, she worries that she has forgotten how to act altogether. In The Hundred-Foot Journey, Mirren plays Madame Mallory, a prickly and particular restaurateur who takes overcooked asparagus as a personal affront. Her Michelin-starred restaurant, set in a quaint village that looks like a postcard, is among the most celebrated in France, and Mallory presides unforgivingly over its staff and cuisine. Her chilly demeanor turns icy when an Indian family opens their own restaurant, the colorful Maison Mumbai, right across the street. Though Mirren was ready for a break after reprising her royal role on the London stage in Peter Morgan's The Audience, she couldn't say no to The Hundred-Foot Journey. The project allowed Mirren to make good on a lifelong dream. "I've always secretly wanted to be a French actress and never actually managed it," she said.
• A group of young people at a New York jail complex got some words of encouragement on Thursday from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and actor LL Cool J. The two visited Rikers Island to mark the launch of a national anti-violence program from Simmons' RushCard, a prepaid debit card. RushCard's Keep the Peace initiative is giving grants to neighborhood organizations. One of those is LIFE Camp, a Queens organization that works with young people, including those at Rikers, to reduce violence. Cool J told the audience that his rough upbringing could have had him where they are if things had worked out differently, and he encouraged them to believe in themselves. "You can absolutely without a doubt do anything you put your mind to," he said. Simmons told them to focus on what's inside them. "It's your spirit you've got to work on," he said. Deputy Warden Clement Glenn said partnering with programs like LIFE Camp is among the ways the Department of Correction tries to get young people to change their behavior.
A Section on 08/02/2014
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