Honored for her environmental efforts on behalf of Oceana last August, Glenn Close advocates for all Earth’s creatures but has a special affinity for dogs. Besides having two of her own, she’s involved with Puppies Behind Bars, in which the incarcerated train canines to help returning veterans deal with brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. “Dogs have a tremendous capacity to help with these particular kinds of injuries,” says Close, who returns for the third season of the award-winning FX drama Damages on Jan. 25.
This time, it’s her character Patti Hughes vs. a Bernie Madoff-like swindler (Len Cariou), his son (Campbell Scott) and, in genius against-type casting, Lily Tomlin and Martin Short as his wife and lawyer, respectively. “I think she’s back on her game,” says Close. “Last season she was very off balance, having gone through some pretty traumatic experiences. She will always be a manipulator.” She’ll also tangle with the returning Ellen (Rose Byrne), now in the D.A.’s office, her ex (Michael Nouri), a past nemesis (Ted Danson) and a new mystery man (Keith Carradine).
Actor Eric Stoltz has been a vegetarian for 25 years, “which I think is the greenest way to live,” a lifestyle he adopted initially “because I loved animals, and it pi**ed off my parents, which I loved.” Eating meat-free with his vegetarian girlfriend, his health improved, and he became aware of the global, planet-impacting issues surrounding omnivorous diets. “It was a myriad of reasons that kept snowballing over the years.”
Stoltz (pictured right) stars in the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica as a computer magnate whose grief over the loss of his daughter leads to the development of artificial intelligence and the rise of the Cylons. “He’s really a morally ambiguous, difficult man. He puts his entire soul into his work, so his personal relationships suffer.”
Directing more than acting these days on TV series like Nip/Tuck, Grey’s Anatomy, and upcoming episodes of Private Practice, Stoltz wasn’t seeking a series, “but the script was very rich and complex, better than most I read.” He directed Caprica’s 10th episode, and confirms the difficulty of wearing two hats. “I had reams of dialogue to learn. And I was a pain in the a** as an actor,” he quips. “I wouldn’t come out of my trailer. I kept demanding things.”
Caprica debuts on Syfy on Jan. 22 at 10 p.m., and Stoltz will be seen later this year in the movie Fort McCoy, a fact-based drama about a Wisconsin family living next to a POW camp during World War II.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (pictured left) gave himself a conservation makeover when he realized he was wasting a lot of water by letting his shower run before getting into it, leaving the faucet on while brushing his teeth, and neglecting to close the refrigerator door. “I did a complete 180,” says the now-conscious star. “Little things make a difference in the long run.” Johnson gets a different kind of makeover — an attitude adjustment — in the family comedy Tooth Fairy, out Jan. 22. He plays a cynical hockey player dubbed the Tooth Fairy for his penchant for bicuspid knockouts who finds himself on actual tooth fairy duty — complete with wings — as penance.
The family comedy features beanpole British comic actor-writer Stephen Merchant as Johnson’s ‘handler,’ and he enjoyed improvising and ad-libbing with his co-star. “Coming up with insults was really fun. We had quite a good rapport,” reports Merchant, who does his green part by recycling, shutting off lights, and giving his time to organizations like Friends of the Earth. The executive producer of comedy partner Ricky Gervais’ new animated HBO series, premiering Feb.19, Merchant is also the director/writer/producer/co-star of Gervais’ next movie, Cemetery Junction.
“I believe there is a catastrophic change coming if we don’t do something now,” declares eco-advocate Lucy Lawless (pictured right) an ambassador for New Zealand Greenpeace who has an organic garden, recycles, and switched to CFL light bulbs at home. The former Xena: Warrior Princess is now playing Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, debuting on Starz Jan. 22. Reminiscent of both 300 for its stylized look, freeze-frame violence and flying blood and HBO’s Rome for its explicit sex and nudity, the 13-part series, already renewed for a second season, is co-produced by Lawless’ husband Rob Tapert in New Zealand, where the production endeavored to be as green as possible. “No paper cups, no Styrofoam, virtually no heat on the stages,” he says.
In the title role of the slave turned gladiator and rebellion leader is Andy Whitfield, a Welsh-born, Australia-trained actor discovered in a worldwide casting search. Having formerly climbed buildings by rope, inspecting buildings for a structural engineering firm, he’s no stranger to physical labor but nevertheless found playing Spartacus and performing most of his own stunts a grueling endeavor. “Some things I couldn’t do, for insurance reasons, but I pretty much hit the deck, every time, and threw the punches and swung the swords. It was hard.”
A married father of two kids ages 5 and 2, Whitfield is a dedicated recycler and is acutely aware of “the whole connection between food and the Earth, and the way animals are bred and fed. “I think processed things have caused so many problems with everyone, and that’s going to affect the environment,” he believes.
Whitfield will also be seen in The Clinic, an Australian-made 1970s-set thriller about unborn babies stolen from pregnant women. “I play the husband of a woman who it happens to,” he says.
More than merely interested in environmental issues, Mehcad Brooks (pictured left) is a member of the Environmental Media Association and Greenpeace L.A., and also chooses train travel over flying whenever feasible, if he’s going home to his native Austin or to northern California from his home in L.A. Energy-burning advantages aside, “you can read, meet people and have a real conversation while traveling in a very sort of romantic way,” says Brooks, who segues from True Blood to ABC’s new legal drama The Deep End — and gratefully, from the steamy Louisiana swamp to a law office. Having silently prayed, “Next job I have, all air conditioning, all suits,” he got his wish when he was cast as Malcolm Bennett. “He might be too smart for his own good,” muses Brooks. “He’s a bit of a know-it-all.”
In addition to The Deep End, which premieres Jan. 21, Brooks co-stars with Queen Latifah in the upcoming romantic comedy Just Wright as a basketball player. Getting on the court with hoop pros, “I lived out my NBA fantasies for three months,” says the actor, who has a more serious role as the lead in the dark indie drama Fencewalker, which “deals with the racial dynamic of America. I would describe it as American Beauty meets American History X.” Both hit theaters later this year.
Living in New York City, actress and TV host Paula Garces finds it easy to be green. “I ride the subway and walk a lot, I take my own shopping bags, do baths or quick showers. I unplug stuff, and I don’t buy bottled water anymore,” she tells MNN. Garces (The Shield, Defying Gravity) is the co-host (with Jorge Ramon) of Latin-targeted mun2’s new style magazine show The mun2 Look, premiering on Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. Featuring celebrity interviews, makeovers and looks for less, “It’s accessible, practical fashion, tips that you are able to use in your everyday life,” says Garces.
Additional photo credits: Eric Stoltz by Jamel Toppin/SyFy; Dwayne Johnson by ZUMA Press; Lucy Lawless courtesy Starz; Mehcad Brooks by Rick Rowell/ABC; Paula Garces by Gerri Miller; MNN homepage photo of Glenn Close by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.