The Oscar Project
When I first picked up the preview copy of this book, I honestly thought it was a historical narrative of the making of Frankenstein. Much to my surprise, the book was a fictionalized imagining of the days leading up to the beginning of shooting on one of the most famous Universal monster films of the 1930s and that was just as good if not better than what I had originally anticipated.
The opening pages of the book feature snippets from actual news outlets of the time, tracking down the latest rumors during pre-production when Bela Lugosi was initially cast in the film following his success with Dracula earlier in 1931. It then becomes clear that Lugosi is no longer the choice, and the story picks up the Friday before filming is to begin with Carl Laemmle, Jr., aka Junior, fretting about his lack of a star for the role of the monster in Frankenstein.
The story is fast paced, bouncing between Hollywood royalty like Lugosi and eventual Frankenstein star Boris Karloff, with Junior providing the focal point around which the entire plot revolves. While not a factual record of events, there is certainly plenty of research that went into making a book like this and for fans of the movies, especially classic Hollywood, it’s fun to get in the heads of these names we know so well and imagine that these are the things they might have been thinking and saying at the time.
Perhaps best known for his roles as Chuck Bartowski in the television series Chuck, Flynn Rider in Disney’s Tangled, and the lead role in the superhero film Shazam!, Zachary Levi has been a rising star in Hollywood over the past decade. That success is only part of the story, a story that Levi discusses in his new book Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others (affiliate links).
This book surprised me in many ways. There is often a feeling about Hollywood actors that they have it all and oftentimes, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, they are people just like us and have some of the same problems we have. Levi presents the struggles he has experienced throughout his life including strained relationships with both of his parents, dealing with depression, and even thoughts of suicide. The book is really an exploration of why he struggles the way he does, but also a bit of a guide as to how he is working to overcome those struggles.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?