James Earl Jones, one of the few living legends of American cinema, will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in a special ceremony during the Awards Gala of the 3rd annual The Method Fest independent film Festival, Friday, June 22, at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena.
Jones co-stars in the psychological thriller Finder’s Fee, the Method Fest’s Final Closing Night film directed by Survivor host Jeff Probst and produced by Katy Wallin, Brad Van Arragon and Shawn Williamson. Finder’s Fee screens Thursday, June 21, at 8:30 pm at Pasadena’s Laemmle Playhouse 7 Cinemas. The closing night party gala will follow at McCormick & Schmick’s seafood restaurant, Pasadena.
Jones is only the second actor to receive The Method Fest Lifetime Achievement Award. Maximillian Schell, the Austrian-born Oscar winning actor (Judgment at Nuremberg) received the award in 1999. The Method Fest, dedicated to discovering breakout acting performances in independent film, is the only U.S. film festival focusing on the actor. The festival is named after “The Method,” a school of acting that influenced many generations of actors.
“As a festival celebrating the actor, we’re both honored and thrilled to recognize James Earl Jones, one of the greatest living American actors, with the Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Don Franken, Method Fest executive director.
Jones is one of the most celebrated actors of his generation, a true icon of American screen and stage. His prolific career encompasses a broad spectrum of projects in film, television and theatre, which have become memorable performances. His range is amazing, and his unique, resonant, bassy voice is one of the most recognizable in the country. It’s ironic that Jones, who stuttered as a child, has given his now famous voice to such classic characters as King Musafa (The Lion King) or Darth Vader (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi), not to mention so many documentaries, CNN and Bell Atlantic.
Behind that great voice there’s a great actor who has created memorable roles, whatever the stage – from box-office smash hits to small independent film projects, from Broadway to TV series. Jones,who was born in Mississippi and grew up in Michigan, made his professional debut in 1957, off-Broadway, and soon came to prominence as a classical actor in New York Shakespeare festival productions of Macbeth, King Lear and Othello. He made his screen debut in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964), but remained focused on theatre. His portrayal of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Jefferson in The Great White Hope was rewarded with a Tony Award in 1969. The film version of the play the following year brought Jones a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination.
Beginning in the mid-1970’s Jones concentrated on film, appearing in 27 films in a 14-year span, including the Star Wars trilogy, A Piece of the Action, City Limits, Soul Man, Gardens of Stone, Coming to America, and Field of Dreams. On stage, his work was rewarded with another Tony award in 1987 for his performance as a baseball player in Fences.
A flurry of films in the early ’90’s included The Hunt for Red October, Grim Prairie Tales, Convicts, Scorchers, Excessive Force, Patriot Games, Sneakers, and Clear and Present Danger. On TV, Jones received an Emmy Award for Gabriel’s Fire in 1991 and another Emmy (along with two ACE awards) for Best Supporting Actor in a Mini Series or Special for the TNT movie Heat Wave. Jones’ appearance in the critically-acclaimed CBS Series “Under One Roof” and in NBC’s Emmy award winning sitcom “Frasier” brought him Emmy nominations. His portrayal of the South African minister in the Alan Paton Classic Cry, The Beloved Country (1995) remains in the annals of acting studies that will be researched by students of the art throughout the years. The strong human drama A Family Thing, (1996), which paired him with Robert Duvall, has also been praised by the critics.
Looking back at his career, Jones can say this isn’t quite bad for a child stutterer, whose talent for poetry made his high school teacher force the kid to recite a poem to the class each day.
For festival information call 310-535-9230 or check the official Method Fest web site.
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